Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

I can not remember where I first was introduced to the work of Amoako Boafo which is the blessing and the curse of social media (it could also be art magazines or emails too). Nevertheless, the minute that I saw he had an exhibit at CAMH, I immediately knew in my spirit that it was a very big deal. Yet, it was not until Larry Ossei-Mensah confirmed in the artist talk that tonight was a historic moment that my intuition was validated.

Amoako Boafo is a Ghanian painter and visual artist that started his professional career around 2018 but as it was stated in his talk back, he has been perfecting his practice over two decades. Amoako was primarily focus on tennis with art being a hobby. He took a break in tennis to study at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra in 2007. Later, he went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria. Amoako has been able to transform a natural passion into a flourishing career.

Amoako’s career feels like an overnight success. It is not often that an artist has a collaboration with Dior, is on first name basis with Kehinde Wiley and sells at $3M at auction in such a short amount of time. However, we learned during his talk back that he experienced rejection in Vienna before he was accepted as a global art rising star. What I loved most about Amoako’s story is the fact that he continued to persevere despite obstacles. He actually took the rejection of not selling pieces in Vienna to confirm that he was on the right track. What an amazing perspective to provide hope to never give up.

Artwork by Amoako Boafo

The standing room only artist talk back was only a small indication of how much his art is admired and appreciated. There were visitors from Houston and beyond who wanted to be the first to grab a sneak peak of his latest works before opening on Thursday, May 26th. There were many people in the room that ranged from artists, collectors, curators and friends all with one unified goal: support.

Artwork by Amoako Boafo

When I observed the paintings, I was not aware that Amoako made most of his paintings with his finger instead of a brush. It took a second look for me to distinguish the strokes and recognize that it was not created with a brush. Every painting captured your attention and accomplished Amoako’s goal of him experiencing the piece with you (taking a bit of him with you in your head).

Larry Ossei-Mensah and Amoako Boafo

The interview was led by Larry Ossei-Mensah who also curated the show. I was so happy to finally meet him and excited that their connection brought this work to Houston. We are honored to witness and support another unexpected star. Houston is the land of opportunity and we specialize in the success of the “underdog.” We have so many stories of people who were not expected to succeed and beat all odds to reach their dreams. It would be very fitting that the exhibit opened here for many reasons.

To add a special flair to the exhibit, one piece was painted on a wall and will be gone after the exhibit leaves Houston in October. We had an amazing opportunity to view a piece that had a definitive end date which was unique in itself. I kept thinking of all of the unique ways the wall could be salvaged. Could it just stay there and future exhibits blended it in forever? I made sure to take a picture with the piece just in case it is indeed taken away.

Mercedes Harris pictured with piece that will only be up during the Houston exhibit

There was a question in the audience that really struck me where it was asked where can Amoako grow from here since he has reached the “top” so quickly. His response kept me thinking for a while as he said he really hopes he can keep growing, especially in Ghana. I thought about his vision of creating an art district and residency for future artists and realized he is really on to something. Ironically, today is Africa Day which symbolizes the beginning of something very historic, indeed. I am imagining where more African artists continue to build in Africa and establish more resources for those that don’t have access to help further solidify our place in the art world which has been deemed out of the ordinary for far too long. Indeed, our work is extraordinary and I am blessed to witness art from artists that will make sure we preserve the soul of black folks in a positive light.

Artwork by Amoako Boafo

Soul of Black Folks will be at the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston until October 2, 2022. Admission to the museum is free.

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