GRACE

An exhibition of paintings by ATTA KWAMI and PAMELA CLARKSON

11 October 2012 –  15 March 2013

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Atta Kwami Statement of Work
My work explores the dynamism, rhythmic structures and the power of improvisation in African visual practice as I have experienced it. It evokes the resilience and personal struggles to rise to a level of hope and order in which excellence may be attained. By ‘good work’, I mean the energy is rightly placed in terms of wholeness and process. I value the kind of work in which the interaction between innovation and tradition is a subtle matter. These are likened to conversations with art from Africa and beyond.
When I paint, I am sometimes in a trance; other times it feels like a conversation between myself and the materials; or with other artists, alive and dead, African and non-African. The artist in the studio is alone. The usual ruses to make conversation with others are not possible but dialogue with materials sets in motion a vehicle for argument and counter-argument. To me the act of painting may be likened to walking a tightrope, much like performing an operation to save a life. Besides invoking the tempered palette of Ewe kente cloth, it hints at the frailty of human life especially in Africa.  A common compositional scheme for my art forms appears to be the repetition of a single motif within a horizontal or sometimes vertical register. These features appertaining to my work may be found in art forms from northern and southern Ghana: the wall paintings, pottery and textiles and the work from the sign painting workshops in urban centres that I have studied over the years. The painting becomes an object. Yellow ochre, raw sienna, red ochre, indigo, mars black, brilliant yellow: genuine yellow light; permanent yellow light and greys convey different shades of light and line. Colour has magic but it’s not the colour alone: the two dimensional space of the canvas is marked with shapes of numerous square and rectangular coloured sections of different sizes. When I look at the work again objectively it seems to be larger than its parts; I have pursued the use of an imaginary grid as a matrix for emotion. This structure is a smokescreen within which to create something new.

Biography
Atta Kwami  was born in 1956 in Accra, Ghana. He completed his Ph.D. in Art History at The Open University, Milton Keynes in 2007 for which he won a Ghana Cultural Fund Award in 2008 for the publication of his thesis: Kumasi Realism, 1951-2007: An African Modernism, (HURST & Co Publishers Ltd., London, 2012). A Senior Lecturer, he taught painting and printmaking from 1986 to 2006 at the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. His paintings are held in major public collections including the National Museums of Ghana and Kenya, the V&A Museum, London, the National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, The Open University, Milton Keynes, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The British Museum, The Newark Museum, the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison among many others. He is a Research Fellow with the Cambridge/Africa Collaborative Research Programme, Art and Museums in Africa (2012/2013) and a Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College. Atta Kwami’s works play with the colour and form improvisations that are distinctive of Ghanaian architecture and African strip-woven textiles, especially those (kente) made famous by his culture, the Ewe and Asante of Ghana.

Kwami’s other awards include:
Howard Kestenbaum/Vijay Paramsothy International Fellowship, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, USA (14th – 26th Aug 2011)
Janet L. Stanley ACASA Travel Award to attend the Fifteenth Triennial Symposium on African Art: Africa and its Diasporas in the Market Place: Cultural Resources and the Global Economy, Univerity of California, Los Angeles. (23rd – 26th March 2011)
Artist in Residence, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA; Roman J. Witt Visitor, Graduate School of Art & Design. (16th – 28th January 2011)
Philip L. Ravenhill Fellowship, (UCLA); Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC. (1st March – 31st May 2010)
1st Thoyer Distinguished Visiting Scholar, New York University, New York.(30th September – 8th October 2008)
Howard Kestenbaum/Vijay Paramsothy International Fellowship, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, USA (14th – 26th Aug 2011)
Janet L. Stanley ACASA Travel Award to attend the Fifteenth Triennial Symposium on African Art: Africa and its Diasporas in the Market Place: Cultural Resources and the Global Economy, Univerity of California, Los Angeles. (23rd – 26th March 2011)
Artist in Residence, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA; Roman J. Witt Visitor, Graduate School of Art & Design. (16th – 28th January 2011)
Philip L. Ravenhill Fellowship, (UCLA); Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC. (1st March – 31st May 2010)
1st Thoyer Distinguished Visiting Scholar, New York University, New York.(30th September – 8th October 2008)

www.attakwami.com

Pamela Clarkson Statement of Work
Grace has many meanings, elegant proportions, charm, easy and refined motions, divine influence, thanksgiving, delay granted. It was the first name of my mother-in-law, Grace Salome Kwami to whom this exhibition is dedicated.

Biography
Pamela Clarkson trained as a painter at the Central School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, from 1964-70. She later studied printmaking at the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, 1973-74.
From 1975-78 she was a Research Assistant in Printmaking at what is now the University of Wolverhampton. Since then she has practiced in Britain and Ghana, taught extensively in British art schools and travelled in North and South America, Europe, West Africa, and visited the Far East. In 1991 Clarkson went to Ghana to set up a printmaking studio in the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where she met her future husband, Atta Kwami.

Clarkson and Kwami set up a printmaking studio in their home in Kumasi which is now known as “Take Time Press”. For the last three years they have divided their time between studios in Britain and Ghana.

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