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Kwesi Botchway: Becoming as well as Being

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1 Hyde Park Gate

1 Hyde Park Gate

London

SW7 5EW

United Kingdom

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Taking its title from an essay by the cultural theorist Stuart Hall, this exhibition considers the mercurial nature of identity.

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Taking its title from an essay by the cultural theorist Stuart Hall, the exhibition considers the mercurial nature of identity, particularly as it relates to colour-consciousness, representation, and perceptions of beauty. Co-curated by writer Ekow Eshun, the show presents new larger-scale figurative works, including personal portraits of the artist’s friends and peers, as well as imagery sourced from social media.

Through his work, Botchway contributes to an evolving genre of portraiture painting seeking to document contemporary Black – and distinctly African – identity, where local meets global, indigenous meets diaspora and traditional meets contemporary. Considering the impossibility of representing a singular Black experience, Botchway combines 19th century French Impressionism with contemporary African social realism, to form a new visual language representing a multiplicity of characters, lifestyles, and perspectives; monochromatic backgrounds frame figures created with textural brushstrokes – offering glimmers of light, and pops of jewel-like colour.

Created whilst in-residence at the gallery’s Accra space, many under lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the works reflect on an unprecedented moment of both sensitivity and survival; at times a space for creation, though often fiercely punctuated by stressors of global racial and political unrest. In the work blacklivesmatter (Divine Protest), Botchway depicts protesters, carrying a banner and placards; set against a block background of bright yellow, the individuals appear triumphant, not defeated. In Blue Stool Gaze, Botchway presents a female perched in an almost Classical pose - her eyes gazing into the distant whilst the ruffles of a pink net dress hang around her shoulders – playing with tropes of the European arts canon. Through this process of refiguring, Botchway re-imagines existing narratives beyond the works, be they art historical or body political.

Curator Ekow Eshun comments:

“Kwesi Botchway is an artist of compelling vision whose paintings speak of the richness and complexity of black lives. These are bold, conceptual works that suggest black identity as fluid not fixed and multiple not singular. They are portraits that capture blackness, in the words of Stuart Hall, as a state of ‘becoming as well as being’.”

About Kwesi Botchway

Born in Accra, Ghana in 1994 Botchway’s figurative paintings consider colour-consciousness, identity representation, and perceptions of beauty.

Botchway studied Art at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design, before enrolling at the Academy of Visual Arts, Frankfurt. He held his first international solo exhibition Dark Purple is Everything Black at Gallery 1957, Ghana in early 2020.

His works form part of important private collections internationally.

Kwesi Botchway is also the Founder of WorldFaze, Accra, an artist studio and residency space focussing on supporting young artists locally.

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1 Hyde Park Gate

1 Hyde Park Gate

London

SW7 5EW

United Kingdom

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