Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo is one of the biggest art sensations of the last few years. Now, fresh from having his art literally flown into space last year by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket, he has his first museum exhibition, which is currently on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, “Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks.”
Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, the show takes its name from the famous book by W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963). The U.S. philosopher and civil rights pioneer is buried in Accra, near where Boafo grew up. For this show, even more relevant is Du Bois’s idea of “double consciousness,” the idea of exploring Black consciousness split between different communities.
The concept is relevant because Boafo developed his signature stylish, finger-painted portraiture after having first learned to paint at the Ghanatta College of Art in Design in Ghana, and then going to the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria. As Boako explains in an interview with Larry Ossei-Mensah for the show:
[B]ack when I was part of the Black majority, I didn’t have to explain anything, but when I arrived in Vienna, their notions about Black people were different, and so I felt the urgency to do something to change that narrative. I remember doing works where I was mostly complaining about why they saw us the way they saw us, then somehow, I was like, “Maybe I should just show them how I want to be seen.”
“Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks” features some 30 works created between 2016 and 2022. It previously traveled to the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco.
Below, get a sense of the show and some of its highlights at the Houston show.