A little support goes a long way with emerging artists

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Ghanian painter gets noticed by the arts community after having won a prize from BE OPEN Art online gallery, which empowers emerging artists from all around the world.

Theophilus Tetteh, also known by his brush name Nii Odai, is an African contemporary artist from Ghana. He studied graphic design and painting at Marimus art school all while experimenting with different media themes. In essence, his style belongs to the unique combination of cubism, contemporary, and abstract expressionism schools of art. Although, more and more often these days we hear about African painters stepping into the spotlight, it might be challenging for artists in Ghana to grow their careers to commercial success and critical recognition. The art market as such is not yet established in Ghana, the country does not even have a national gallery to preserve and promote Ghanaian art. It can be problematic for young painters who cannot afford to move to Europe or US to promote and market their art. Other than this, many young artists can even have trouble with acquiring painting materials.

Things changed for Nii Odai when he got featured on BE OPEN Art, an online gallery of contemporary art aiming to support emerging artists, in late 2020 and was very well accepted by the audience. BE OPEN Art, as its website reads, was founded by international entrepreneur and philanthropist Elena Baturina with an ambition to provide emerging artists around the globe with an opportunity to showcase their work to the world of art professionals. The platform especially welcomes authors who do not have their own resources, patronage and promotional opportunities: graduates, self-taught artists, artists with a deprived background.

In December 2020, the artist was voted the Artist of the Month by the visitors of the BE OPEN Art website and shortly after he was chosen the gallery’s first ever Artist of the Year. The award earned him much favourable publicity, so the artist was noticed by the arts community, media, collectors and curators alike. In 2021, he was interviewed by an array of art media and featured on the Saatchi holidays magazine. All this already lets the prices for the artist’s works slowly inch upward.

According to Tetteh, this world can be a better place if young artists are guided on their quest without any form of intimidation and disregard, but with support of the senior. Now, as his name has hit headlines of the arts world media, the artist hopes to help promote emerging talents in his native Ghana, where he is a member of the Ghana Association of Visual Artists (GAVA). “The art makes the man and the man makes the art,” says Nii Odai.

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