AKWAABA – Ghislain Brown-Kossi
April 27th – May 14th, 2023
Opening Receptions: Thursday, April 27th and Saturday, April 29th
In Brown-Kossi’s latest exhibition titled AKWAABA, the artist pushes the boundary of his earlier exploration of a juxtaposing concept: the Archaeological Pop Artist.
In Ghana and Ivory Coast, Akwaaba is “Welcome” in the African language Twi spoken by the Akan people. The artist welcomes us to his universe rich in visual symbols. During a recent trip to numerous countries of his roots, including France and the Ivory Coast, Brown-Kossi explored museums and archeological sites of Afro-descendant frescoes, carvings, and other historical and contemporary art pieces. Using this inspiration, Brown-Kossi is hoping to connect society to our ancestral beginnings. One important reference is the contribution of ancient Egypt to the evolution of the written word as we know it, seen in the symbols present on each of his art pieces. They invite the viewer to imagine a new language and question its origin.
Four series are present in this holistic exhibition, including the recent Artifact, the new Umoja series, as well as new creations from his popular, colorful pop-style: Believe and Symbols.
The uniquely textured surface in Artifact is made of built-up plaster and sand, which point towards the past. The contrasting vivid pop colors act as signal to the present and future. The inviting surface begs for the viewer’s hand to experience “finding” the symbols on an ancient wall. In this way, the artist is simultaneously portraying multiple timelines and exploring their connectedness. The recollection of what has been lost and what is yet to be discovered in the future is another underlying theme in this new work.
In Umoja, Brown-Kossi is creating what appear to be maps, but on closer inspection, viewers will note the shapes are not specific geographical locations. Instead, the abstract map images are symbolic to his own experience of melding cultures in his life. As the artist works towards his Canadian citizenship, he is increasingly fascinated with the many questions of identity, immigration and ancestry. “The human being tends to want to dissociate, to separate colours, origins, religions, etc. In my new series, I want to show that one can be different while being part of an interconnected whole.”
The term Umoja is from the Kiswahili language spoken in 14 different African countries. In this context, the term directly refers to the imagines maps and translates to “unity”.