This month in New York, Mitchell-Innes & Nash present Worldmaking, a group exhibition of ten emerging artists living and working in Ghana, with many showing their work in New York for the first time. Exploring relationships of content and politics, perception and reflection across the works on view, the show, co-curated by Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah and curator and Gallery Director Ylinka Barotto, Worldmaking frames Ghana against a backdrop of Western consumption, architectural influences that derive from years-long domination, colonial impact on ecosystems and economies, and the use of traditions as conduits to preserving the past and understanding the present.
Worldmaking mirrors the richly varied artistic ecosystem in Ghana today featuring artists who by pushing the boundaries of their respective mediums formally and conceptually, contribute compelling perspectives to the discourse of contemporaneity. The presentation here makes for a striking series of interactions with Ghana’s landscape and politics. Artist Eric Gyamfi, for instance, envelops viewers in a colorful maze at the entrance of the gallery, using immense cotton panels with treated dyes and photo emulsions to create a dense visual network through which the viewer traverses. Rita Mawuena Benissan, by contrast, presents a re-creation, and immensely scaled ceremonial umbrella. Made with the help of local professional chief’s umbrella makers, The Damson of Succession (2023) features embroidered figures sourced from archival image and repeated at different scales on the deep purple velvet surface adorned with bright yellow stars. By reclaiming history, Benissan celebrates past and future tradition-making.
Ghana receives millions of tons of global waste, from second-hand clothing to electronics which, in the city of Accra, becomes an unsettling part of the urban landscape. Sculptor Dela Anyah collects discarded bicycle, truck, and motorcycle tires to make intricately woven tapestries that hover between sculpture, avant-garde fashion, and traditional Ewe-kente cloths. Continuing his practice of “Afrobutylism,” named for his signature medium of butyl inner tubes, Anyah has created two large-scale commissioned works ABIOLA and ALAKE (both 2023) that expand upon his preoccupation with upcycling, rebirth, and identity while foregrounding the importance of sustainability through art making.
The show continues through these series of iterative concepts and explorations of the contemporary art and social landscape of Ghana, framing both the nation’s current artistic community and the questions of modernity to which they respond in turn. The show closes August 25th.
– D. Creahan
Worldmaking [Mitchell-Innes & Nash]