Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Reflections in acrylic medium by Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

I started the Reflection series in Indian ink medium. Unfortunately I found ink fading slightly on the canvas. May be as I was using pointillism technique , the upper layer of dots was with very little ink on the brush. After a little research and also after I contacted the company who manufactured the ink , I now have decided to shift to acrylic instead of ink on canvas. I will still continue using ink on paper.
Here are the two towers I created with acrylic medium only. In future I may try to combine ink with acrylic.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Lockdown works by Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

Its been quite long that I did not post anything here. Not that I haven't been painting , I did a few artworks. Now that I am into curating  with Artlane team , I was busy with call for artists. This year our theme is "Migration". I have also been writing a blog on artists works in lockdown. 
You can read the blog here:

A new one from Reflection series.
This time I am using acrylic .

Monday, May 18, 2020

Studio visit of Ghanaian contemporary artist Anane Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

My first ever exhibition was in Accra, Ghana in collaboration with artist Anane Asare. He was my mentor for that very exhibition. He taught me how to approach the gallery, how to come up with the title of the exhibition, which works to display and how to display and all the aspects of the exhibition which I wasn’t aware of since that was my first time. Unfortunately after that exhibition we were not in much contact so when I was planning the studio visits during my visit to Ghana, I decided to contact him unsure whether I will be able to as I had no contact with him. But thanks to my friends Ato and Adwoah who made it possible.
His studio was very much in the city. It is actually the premises of Ghanatta college of arts which is now closed. Asare visited this college quite often when it was running . The principal of the college was a good friend of him who generously allowed him to use a few classrooms as a studio after the college was shut down.
 Being a closed down area there was wildly grown grass in the premises which gave a deserted look. Anane has a student (whom he mentors) who guided us to the studio which was on the 1st floor. The paintings placed all around made the corridor a lively place. Surrounded with lots of canvases still in process and some wooden benches and tables around, that corridor gave a positive feeling. I remembered the domination of earthen colours in his paintings. The use of lines , the architectural values and also some Ghanaian symbols used had peaked my interest in his paintings.
 It was a great pleasure to meet Anane Asare after such a long time. Initial few minutes were passed talking about our lives after the exhibition. He was happy to hear my progress in art. After snapping a few pics we started informally, him saying ,”Time doesn’t wait for you”.

Thank you for giving us time to visit your studio. It is my great pleasure to meet you after such a long time.
We would first like to know a little about the initial days of your artistic journey. How and when did you came to know that you will be an artist?
I started very early when I was about 6 years old. I tried to copy the portrait of Elizabeth, the British Monarch which hung on wall in my house . I did that with chalk on ground and then had a big fight with my elder sister since she poured water on it. But one of my teachers saw it after it was dry and was shocked that I could do such good drawing. Thus I started drawing right from school daysbut all I use to draw was boxers. I did my schooling in Asim boys School in Kumasi and went to graduate from University of Science and technology , Kumasi but left unfinished. I did take some formal tutoring from some good artists like Mr Atoo Delaquis.
I had always been a drifter so kept quitting. I traveled from Ghana to Ivory Coast but it didn’t work so went to Mali, didn’t work there too . Settled in Senegal where with acquaintance of Minister of art and culture entered school of fine arts.Had really god friends in the college.Especially a friend called Appolinaire Senghor helped when I was homeless. Learned a lot from these friends.

When and where was your first exhibition?
First exhibition was in Senegal which was a group exhibition. Senegal was to hold an exhibition which hosted 72 nationalists. There was an opportunity for me to rise and shine. In those days I read a lot of books. I was getting spiritual. So when I got this opportunity I had already decided the title for my artwork which was  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. The artwork was praised highly. Senegal was where I was at peak as an artist. I also worked at United Nations where I illustrated a manual on population growth. After this I had a lot of exhibitions in Senegal out of which was an exhibition on Human rights  on Gorec Island. I returned to Ghana in 1996. I had my first solo at Alliance Fransaise and also exhibited at Artist Alliance Gallery several times.

How do you market your art and what are the ways you navigate into the art world?
Marketing the art is not easy. Only hopes have kept me going. I navigate only through exhibitions and contacts. I am not a tech savvy guy , hence do not have ant social presence but my friends and well wishers are helping to create social media contact.

Which artists have influenced you in your artistic journey?
Artists like Kofi Dowson, Wisdom Kuduwor and Prof Ablade Glover have inspired me a lot in my journey as an artist.

Let us know a little about your creative process . How did you develop your style?
While in Senegal , I had a lot of books from my friends . Thus I read a lot. I painted whatever came to my mind. It was something spiritual that was waiting for me. My mother was old , I always use to think of my mother and the rest of the family. I went on painting whatever came to my mind. I didn’t bother about my eating , I didn’t care how many canvases I was using , didn’t care how much time I was working. I was determined to get my style . Thus in this process I created KNOWLEDGE IS POWER which was praised at my first exhibition. And that's how I got my style I believe.
I always do the background first . The images that came to mind are then infused on the canvas.

I have noticed In your paintings a lot of earthen colour. What does it specify?
It represents the mood, the environment, the meloncholyness. Surrounded by good people opens my heart easily and then there is the flow in the painting.

Which medium do you work with? Do you paint in series?
I have tried all mediums. After coming to Ghana I have used more of acrylic colours.
I don’t force myself to paint in series. Sometimes I like to work that pleases me while sometimes people may not like the work already painted and then they commission the work they desire.

How much time you spend in the studio? When do you know that the work is finished?
The whole day. When bored I go out to get rid of my boredom.
My works are never finished . I can always come back and add something .

What are the things that you get inspired from? Do you read or listen to music?
I watch TV, love to watch love to watch Aljazeera documentaries. I admire Indian architecture, valleys. I read a lot of books and listen to Jazz.

How do you see art in Ghana? How is the artist community in Ghana?
Ghana is culturally very active but talking about the contemporary art , it has a long way to go.

How is the artist community in Ghana?
It is ok. We do meet at Artist Alliance but we don’t really discuss art. Prof Ablade Glover united artists. In my view he is the Godfather of Ghanaian contemporary art.

What do you think of art funding?
At the moment the Ghana government is not funding art. Ministry of art and culture are into the process of helping the artists.

What does having a physical space to make art in, mean for your process and how do you make use of it?
Its always good to have a physical space for painting. I can even live here if I want to. When this College was running , I volunteered to teach here. The Principal , who is the owner of the school loved me. They do visit here to see me painting.

Have you ever have to deal with rejection?Have you ever given up?
I did initially, but I have never given up. No, never. I go on very confidently , even after lots of ups and downs.

What are your upcoming projects?
I will be having an exhibition on Architecture design. When the series is half done, will start approaching the galleries.

What is your opinion about the art fairs?
I do not have any interest in Art fairs and so cannot comment on this.

Can we have a piece of advice for the emerging artists?
Well, I would just like to say that keep working and one day your work will define you.

Artist Anane Asare lives and works in Accra, Ghana. Though he doesn’t have any social presence he mentors a student who assists him with the social media. His works can be found in local galleries in Accra,Ghana.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

An old standby "Untitled" Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

Titling my artworks is a significant process in my artworks. It's a daunting task for me as I am not a word nerd but I don't give up and avoid to resort on an old standby "Untitled". And moreover I believe that viewers experience more from the artworks when it is tied with an awesome title.

Titles come to my mind sometimes during the process , sometimes when it is completed and I sit back and look at the artwork. And then I take thesaurus  and try to find a good synonym for the word in my mind. Many artists don't like the idea of naming as they feel that we should leave it to the individual interpretation of the viewer. In my opinion names give an initial direction for the viewers to look at the artwork and it does give room for the viewer to his/her own meaning to the artwork.

Moreover good title help sell the artwork. It helps you easily organize and sort through and find a piece easily when you want it. I can easily find my works on my blog since they are titled. When we are posting works on internet, the works untitled will not get far away when it comes to search engine optimization(SEO).

"Korálové moře"...a Czech name for Coral sea.

 Though a daunting task I definitely enjoy it. Sometimes I involve my friends and my blog readers . Then it's very interesting when people come up with different names out of their own perspective looking at the artwork. I remember how a friend who encouraged my art, helped me to get a name for one of my artworks after my Exhibition at Czech Republic.
Considering this subject I decided to invite some of the fellow artists to give their opinion and here is what they say...

Award winning cartoonist and illustrator, Uttam Ghosh:

 I think a title is very much needed. It guides and helps the viewer. Art is viewed by the masses and we have very few art appreciation initiatives. The title itself can be creative it can lure, educate, tease, arouse curiosity. And also creates biases in the visual experiences.
Sometimes i feel we should not have a title. But then i think, if we don't, it creates a wall between art and the viewer. And not a bridge. I also am very uncomfortable signing my artworks. I feel it breaks the illusion created between the viewer and the work. The signature reminds the viewer of the creator. And disturbs the experience.

Fabric artist Vaishali Oak who creates beautiful fabric assemblages says
I always find it difficult to title my art works, Although our art reflects our thought process and also state of mind . Still it is difficult to bind it and produce a title for it.
The situation Is always .... I think so ...or may be...that kind of words we use. Being sure for something is very difficult. Titling your art work is also art...!
But I think as artist matures and have a very clear vision and be very aware of his or her thoughts , if he is dipped in to the process so much that, title occurs naturally.

Artist Vaishali Rajapurkar who does abstract paintings and has immense pleasure in creating her new series From my Garden, says:
80% of my paintings happen in my head, so the idea ,the title , the colour palette are very clear even before I start  on my canvas.
A painting is like a story , and the title helps in conveying that visual story to the viewer.

Artist Smita Raje Deshpande who is also an art therapist:
I loved the point of not signing the art work as it disturbs the experience for the viewer.
I too believed that the title is the bridge between the art and the viewer but on the other hand I also feel the title also gives a very definite direction of thoughts, not leaving  the viewer discretion to be explored.
I think title is much needed in any form of art expression . It gives better understanding of what the artist wanted to viewers see , feel & enjoy .
Descriptive title creates a story line that causes the viewer to consciously process the art.

Artist Anand Paropakari views in a different way and asks, "Why even bother so much to put a title?
If it’s a realistic work viewers will understand the story anyways.
If it’s an abstract let them create their ‘own story’ out of it, why bias them with yours? Why would one want to insist that viewers must understand painting and that too painters point of view?".

On this I in fact think that viewers understanding art is nothing but art appreciation and the title starts the conversation. Of course the viewers are free to go in any direction to connect with the artwork .

To answer his questions , Artist Uttam Ghosh says, "We as artists should also try to break this notion about 'understanding art' art is not a quiz, it isn't challenging the viewer or confronting it, it isnt a battle where somebody wins and loses.  It should be democratic and equal.
That's why art appreciation is very important. It helps the artist as well as the viewer. Like academics art appreciation comes with a lot of history which should be shared with all.  We also need to deconstruct academics to be creative. Picasso's primitiveness is all about deconstruction.
Artists need to struggle within, learn and learn to deconstruct and also educate the people and take them along".
He further says,"We don't ask our children which school they would like to go to. We get them admitted in the ones which we think is 'best'. That's the bias. What we don't tell our children is that they represent a bias. We expect the school to give good education.
Instead they are put into a template.
Artists always help deconstructing that bias.

When asked that isn't appreciation necessary, artist Anand answered, " It is. Appreciation, criticism, constructive feedback are essential. But - again in the context of ‘title’- title doesn’t enhance either of these.In my opinion , title surely serves a purpose of providing a way to uniquely identify an artwork  from hundreds of his/her artworks".
Artist Swapna Joshi says," I feel , with the  title , viewer can get idea of artist thoughts! But even when it is  titled "untitled" ,viewers tend to think in their own way".

Thanks to my artist friends for their contributions. My blog readers , who are artists or those who simply love to view art , feel free to comment on this topic.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Studio visit of Ghanaian contemporary artist Betty Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

Betty Acquah is one of the foremost female painters in Ghana who celebrates the achievements of women in her country. She says that women are the unsung heroes of our time and she depicts the same in her energetic paintings. With the use of dots and lines Betty has effectively captured movement in her artworks.

I first met Betty during my exhibition at Alliance Francaise in Accra but unfortunately there was no occasion when we met at leisure to exchange ideas. So when the Co-founder of Foundation of Contemporary Art ,Ghana Adwoa Amoah, generously fixed an appointment for me to visit Betty Acquah, I was very happy that she was very kind to immediately respond.
Her studio is located on the outskirts of Accra near Nsawam on Kumasi road which is usually a busy road. Betty has a separate room as a studio in the premises of her house. It was delight to meet her. An elongated room with a big work table in the center with the walls full of finished and unfinished paintings was her studio. The movement in her paintings have always caught my attention. Bursting with colours, movement and brushstrokes , her paintings so beautiful and vibrant give a feeling of life force pulsating. Especially in her paintings depicting dancers, she has successfully achieved a visual rhythm much like the rhythm in music. Instead of notes and  sounds, the use of dots, lines, colours and shapes creates a strong rhythm. 
 Betty uses pointillism technique and for my recent series on Reflection I have also used pointillism and hence was very eager to know her process and gain more knowledge of the technique.
Betty was a comfortable person to talk to and we began our conversation in a very informal way.

Thank you Betty for having me here. To start with can you tell us about your initial artistic journey?
 I was born in Capecoast and was a 10th born in 12 children.I did schooling in Capecoast and Graduation in Kumasi. I had been drawing since childhood. And my drawings used to impress my teachers, family and friends. I knew instinctively that I was going to be an artist. While studying in Kwame Nkrumah University, being good at drawing and painting my lecturers persuaded me to take up Painting as major instead of Textile and Design. I completed B.A(Hons)Art and later on went to the same college to complete MFA. I also had a professional training course in Tokyo school of Arts while in Japan. After coming to Ghana, worked with Berj Gallery in Accra as a Manager. I also worked with the art gallery of Center for National Culture , Ghana. After 4 years of work I stopped to pursue as a full time artist.

How have you evolved as an artist?
I was the artist of the family. I got a lot of encouragement from family and friends. I was also a dancer and I knew that I wanted to do art right from the beginning.

How do you seek out opportunities? Tell us about your first exhibition.

My first exhibition was at PAFAM 90( Pan African Festival of Arts and Music) which was held at Trade Fair grounds in Accra. My cousin paid for the space . It was a satisfying exhibition as people were amazed that a lady could paint in such a way though I didn’t sell a single piece. There I met two gallery owners who liked my paintings and that is how I started exhibiting at other places as well.

Which artists have influenced you and have you collaborated with other artists?

Locally I was influenced by Wiz Kuduwor, Prof Abalade Glover and a few others whereas Internationally mostly the impressionists. My first exhibition was quickly followed by another one at then Amahema Art Gallery. I collaborated with already famous Ghanaian painters like Amon Kotei( who was the designer of Coat of Arms of Ghana), Prof Ablade Glover (now the owner of the Artist Alliance Gallery) and Tafa Fiadzigbe( who now lives and paints in US). I have also exhibited  in India, Japan, Nigeria, Spain,UK , USA etc. All these exhibitions have helped me grow as an artist.


 Let us know a little bit about your work.  What is the creative process of your work? Do you make any preparatory drawings?

Yes, I always have preparatory sketches. I first do the under-painting by adding different colours at random to my primed canvas and then decide on the colour scheme. I then transfer my concept from the sketchpad by making tiny dots ,almost invisible , with darkish colour. Dots are then used to make the outlines. Mid tones for the figures and the background is done simultaneously. With the shadows done, figures are finished with highlights. Every painting is ended with the dots in white. I always try to follow a rhythm in my paintings.

You use pointillism technique about which I am very eager to know  as my recent series of artworks are in the same style. How did you develop your style?
It came through experimentation. In the 3rd year of College of Arts, students were expected to come up with their unique styles. I experimented with many techniques but finally settled down on impressionism. I loved the works of French Impressionists. Especially Monet, Pierre Renoir, Van Gogh impressed me a lot. I was hooked at them. That’s when I decided to try pointillism. My lecturers liked it and advised me to continue with it which I did. But after a while I realized that I was stuck there , I found my paintings too still which I didn’t like. Me being a dancer ,I needed movement , some rhythm and that’s how I was successful to achieve the aesthetic arrest which people find in my paintings.

What are the mediums you work in?
I have used oil and water colours but now have settled on Acrylic as it dries fast.

How would you describe the subject matter or the contents of your works? We have seen women taking foremost place in your works.
Yes, most of my works depicts the ordinary women working courageously. The trials , celebrations, successes of these women form the central theme of my works. I love dancing so I also like to portray dancers, musicians. I also like painting nature. And in all these works my main focus is motion.

When do you think that your work is finished? How much time do you spend working in your studio?
My work is finished by an instinct. Since my studio is in the premises of my house its easy for me to enter studio anytime. I spend at least 8 hours in the studio.

What are you inspired by? Are you reading , listening or looking at a particular thing to fuel your work? Are you a philosophical person? How do you navigate through the art world?
I like to listen to music while painting. I also listen to the spiritual messages on You Tube, though I am not a philosophical person. I simply follow where my heart leads me.
I have an account on Facebook . There are some galleries in Ghana who represent me like Artist Alliance gallery and Tiga-African Art gallery.

What is the art scene like in Ghana?
The art scene in Ghana is promising. There are a lot of talented artists in Ghana. But there are not many galleries , museums or art magazines. There is a challenge to start this art industry and keep it running.

Born in Capecoast, Central region of Ghana in 1965, Betty Acquah lives and works in Accra, Ghana.
Her works are exhibited and collected worldwide. Her works can be viewed here:

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Studio Visit of Ghanaian contemporary artist, Kofi Nduro Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

I left Ghana(West Africa) in Dec, 2014. Never thought that I will ever visit Ghana again in my life. But since 2017 my husband kept visiting Ghana for his consultancy and here in 2020 I got a chance to open the pages of my life I spent in Ghana. I was excited to visit all those places I had been while in Ghana and recollect my memories. I stayed in Ghana for 14 years so Ghana was my second home and has a very special place in my heart. It has given me an identity of an artist. My first exhibition was held in Accra,Ghana. Ghanaian art and culture has a great influence on my art.
There are many people who write about their visit to Ghana but as an artist I wanted something else.  I wanted this visit to be memorable in an artistic way . I have always been intrigued by artists and their work-spaces so decided to visit Ghanaian artists in their studios and celebrate the creativity of Ghana. I was glad to have been able to visit some of the studios and chat with the artists with the help of some of my artist friends, Directors of Foundation of Contemporary Art, Ghana,  Ato Annan and Adwoa Amoah . Through this blog I intend to bring forth a few Ghanaian artists and then will continue to do studio visits of the artists from my hometown, Pune. I will look forward to meet some more Ghanaian artists in my next visit to Ghana .

Artist Kofi Nduro Donkor, one of my mentors in art from Ghana and a very gentle and lively personality. It was such a pleasure to meet Kofi again after 5 years. He adviced me on everything related to art,right from brush techniques to stretching to small tips of Art business. I had always felt his positivity very inspiring. After years of sheer dedication today he is one of the top selling artists from Ghana.I feel privileged to meet such a soul.
Kofi had his studio in cantonment area when I was in Ghana .The studio was located behind my daughter’s school so was easily accessible. I visited his studio not only when I had difficulty in art but also when I just wanted to see his painting process. Now he has shifted it to his newly built house. I was really happy to see him so proud of his house. Co-director of Foundation of Contemporary Art , Ato Anan accompanied me to his house. His house is on the outskirts of Accra just before Casawa, still under construction. It’s located at a higher altitude with clean air and gives a beautiful view of the surrounding area. As soon as we entered his house I was caught with large body of works with vibrant colours which evolved around the theme of everyday life scenes among which was my favourite market scene. His works show how deep he is in the African lore.
It was a friendly talk with Kofi. He took us around in the house before we settled down with a bottle of water for our informal chat.

Thank you for having us here. To start with, we would like to know more about you and your background.
I knew that art would have a special place in my life at a very young age . When we were in Accra one of our family member came to stay with us who use to draw and paint. I was greatly inspired from him to become an artist.. After my elementary school, I wanted to do something in Art but like many other parents , my father was against my decision. So to join the Ghanatta college of Art and Design in 1982 , I had to work to support the college and I did that by selling newspaper on roadside. My father didn’t know about this. Once we students had to exhibit our works and ithad a coverageon  television news channel. My father heard when my name flashed as a participant and he was filled with proud feeling for his son and never stopped me from doing Art after that. Though I didn’t complete the school due to financial constraint and thus have no certificate in Art.
I had my first successful exhibition in 1992 at Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra. From that time on my life as an artist changed. Before this exhibition I was already selling my smaller works at Arts Center, Accra.
How do you navigate through the art world?
I have an active account on Facebook and Linkedin as well. I have successfully sold my works through Facebook. I regularly post my new paintings and people appreciate it. Interested people  contact me directly. Though there are ups and downs sometimes. Sometimes people commission the work they see on Facebook in their desired dimensions.

During your journey as an artist, were you influenced by other artists?
In my college days Mr Apekoh mentored me. In my initial days as a young artist I was studying and observing all the great artists who visited Arts Center in Accra. Wiz (Wisdom Kuduwor) has influenced me and given a lot of encouragement. I love the energy of Prof Abelede Glover. I learned from him how to keep working as you don’t know when a buyer will come for some of your artwork. We are not only working for ourselves but for the future generation. What are we leaving behind? I want my grandchildren to see my works and feel proud .I do have some works which I am not selling as they are my family property.

Coming out of an art college you are required to create art in a specific way, some create the works that sell. Is that a determining factor in your art creativity?
As an artist you have to survive by selling your art. But in my opinion don’t sell all your works. Keep some to yourself which will in future define you.I sometimes gift a work to some clients and in return they bring more clients. Sometimes you have to make some works that will sell but as you are doing that you have to measure your work, it has to stand test of time.

How did you develop your style? What are the subject matters that you handle?
I would like to leave that to art writers. I just paint whatever comes to my mind and not think of painting in a particular way. Over a period of time people do recognize me from my art. For me it comes naturally. Most of the time ,I paint through my imagination. People are painting big scenes, market scenes but I paint through my perspective, my imagination. Sometimes I paint from a photograph, people will not be able to actually recognize the place but they will surely like it.

What is your creative process?
Sometimes it’s a headache what I am going to paint. Sometimes I work and destroy it. Sometimes I don’t know the destination. Sometimes I start in the middle of the night when some idea strikes me.

What media do you work in? What tools do you work with?
I have mostly worked in acrylics. I use brushes and knives.

Do you work in series?
Not always. But if a painting is a big scene then I work on a number of canvases at one time.

We have seen very vibrant paintings of yours and there is so much movement and happening in your scenes like the market scenes and beach scenes. The themes include mostly African’s love for music , dance and social gatherings. Do you always paint what you see or observe ?
Definitely I am fascinated with these scenes. It comes from the observation of everyday life. When I am not painting I go around the city and some scenes fit in my mind and when I get back to the canvas I work from my recollection and imagination. As an artist some of the old symbols do appear in my paintings. I feel whatever comes to your mind, just do it.

When do you think that the work is finished?
According to me , artist has to know when the work is finished. I know which of my works are still not finished which you may find complete. But in such times I keep these works aside and come to it later on.
How much time do you spend in studio?
I am in my studio from morning 7am to 3pm but sometimes I get bored and don’t even pick a brush. Then I go round in the town , meet friends , do family chores. But when there is an urge I work like a horse and it doesn’t even pain.

How is the artist community in Ghana?
There is no place for artists to come together and discuss art. Everybody is busy minting money. In my opinion young generation has to work on this issue.

Where is your collective base?
My collective base is in Europe, Africa and mostly in U.S.  

How did you break in to the international art?
There is an art collector from U.S who came to Ghana for some personal work. I got introduced to him and through his contacts I was introduced to the galleries in Brooklyn and Maryland. That is how my artworks reached U.S.

What are your upcoming projects?
There is nothing like a project but my works will be showcased in a group exhibition in March 2020.

What are your thoughts on Art fairs and Art Residencies?
Every artist wants to meet new opportunities to show their work. Some are fortunate to grab these as they can afford but others don’t get sponsorships to enter these Art fairs. Getting funds is difficult in this side of the world.

How is the Art scene in Ghana?
It has a bright future. I believe that art is for common people and should be shared with them but unfortunately art is a luxury here.And still I think it has bright future.

What would like to convey to the younger generation of artists?
Paint your heart out. If you are serious and a patient artist , your art will be appreciated. It is like a football. You aren’t playing for yourself, you are playing for people to appreciate. Become a master of what you are doing.

Kofi Nduro, born in 1964 in Tarkwa, the Western region of Ghana, has had numerous art exhibitions hosted for him in his own country as well as in Europe and America.His works are widely collected. He stays and works in Accra.
His works can be viewed here: .

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Studio visit of contemporary Ghanaian artist Wisdom Indian artist Manisha Vedpathak

I left Ghana(West Africa) in Dec, 2014. Never thought that I will ever visit Ghana again in my life. But since 2017 my husband kept visiting Ghana for his consultancy and here in 2020 I got a chance to open the pages of my life I spent in Ghana. I was excited to visit all those places I had been while in Ghana and recollect my memories. I stayed in Ghana for 14 years so Ghana was my second home and has a very special place in my heart. It has given me an identity of an artist. My first exhibition was held in Accra,Ghana. Ghanaian art and culture has a great influence on my art.
There are many people who write about their visit to Ghana but as an artist I wanted something else.  I wanted this visit to be memorable in an artistic way . I have always been intrigued by artists and their work-spaces so decided to visit Ghanaian artists in their studios and celebrate the creativity of Ghana. I was glad to have been able to visit some of the studios and chat with the artists with the help of some of my artist friends, Directors of Foundation of Contemporary Art, Ghana,  Ato Annan and Adwoa Amoah . Through this blog I intend to bring forth a few Ghanaian artists and then will continue to do studio visits of the artists from my hometown, Pune. I will look forward to meet some more Ghanaian artists in my next visit to Ghana .

                                                                 Wiz Kudowor with Ato Anan

During my 14years of  stay in Ghana I didn't get a chance to meet Ghana's most respected contemporary artist, Wisdom Kudowor, popularly known as Wiz in the artist community.  I was always very fascinated with his bold canvases and the Adinkra symbols and figures and faces used in his paintings. Wiz Kudowor has been exhibited in solo and group shows for almost 30 years with exhibitions in Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S. His works are held in prominent public and private collections like the Ghana National Museum, the Ministry of Culture in the China, the Osaka Prefecture Contemporary Art Collection in Japan and the Africa-America Museum in Dellas, Texas, U.S. One of his widely known artworks is the public Relief Mural at the Kwame Nkrumah Museum in Accra, Ghana.
So when Co-Director of Foundation of Contemporary Art,Ghana and artist Ato Annan helped me to get an appointment to visit his studio I was very excited. His studio is in Dzorwulu, a part of Accra, capital of Ghana.
The informal chat with Mr Wiz Kuduwor was very interesting and inspiring for me as an artist. His approachability made it easy to ask him about his early days, his career as an artist and everything about art.

Thank you for giving us time to visit your studio.To start with we would like to know about you and your background.

I have been an artist all my life.From very early age I was drawing and painting. I grew up knowing that I would be an artist anyway. When in high school art was my main thing. I applied to College of Art, Kwame Nkumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi but my father wanted me to pursue something else. So when I got admission I packed my bag and left the house without informing my parents. Of course later on I informed them through letter. After college I came back to Accra to set up my work place but then realized that money was needed for that.So I entered into teaching. I After 6 years I decided that it was enough of teaching and need to practice art. I started with textiles , screen printing and designing for textiles.This was how I was self sufficient.

What type of designs were you making and do you still find those in your paintings?
Yes. They have not gone anywhere. i was printing large volumes of textiles and then I started making clothes . That's how I found line to generate income to establish myself as an artist.

Was there a point where you started seeing yourself as a fashion designer?
I was actually in the line. But then when I took commissions I was difficult to meet deadlines as I was only designing and had no control on those making the clothes so I decided to get back to my canvases.

Your journey was quite artistic. So when and where was your first exhibition?
My first solo show was in 1990 at Art Center, Accra. With no sponsorship and all the promotion work handled by me , it was a huge success. I also got commissions from it and that is how my journey actually started .

You are called trans-cultural visionary . Can you tell us about that?
That is the term people use to describe me. Everywhere I travel to, I try to see what is there which relates to the place where I come from. That's how I connect different cultures into my painting. I feel like I am a global person. But at the same time I don't want people to forget that I am an African. I am a human being first and humans are same all over the world.

Your works are modern but at the same time traditional. Symbols relate to tradition of Ghana.
It's where I come from. I can't loose my identity as Ghanaian but at the same time I try to look beyond that. The instance of using symbols was when Professor Glover came up with collection of Adinkra symbols. It makes a whole lot of sense with meanings they carry.Everywhere I go I try to see what all those symbols mean and how it relates to the ones we have here.

How did you develop your style of painting?
I don't really try to make it a style. It is me. Whatever comes out of me is this and people relate that to me.Sometimes I get a lot of criticism that I am not consistent. But there is a lot to explore in this world and as long as I explore genuinely I am true to my work. Whatever I do is for me, to express my self . I was defining myself along the lines after my first solo in 1990, but then I started travelling. That was the time when I was looking around seeing the world and thought what I was doing was restrictive. It started choking me out and I needed to free myself from it. I just went and expressed whatever came out of me and it started flowing. I have never looked back again.
There are lots of rollers and knives seen in your studio. Are these the only tools you use for painting?
I am a free spirit and freely explore any ideas that come to me. So when I wanted to achieve textures in my works , I decided to find different tools not restricting myself to brushes. Thats how I started using knives and rollers . I don't use brush at all.

How do you navigate the art world?
I am redesigning my website . I am active on Facebook and Instagram.

Are you influenced by other artists?
I have been inspired by works of some artist but yes never tried to work like them. Among'st my lecturers Ato Delaqui had a great impact on me. I use to work for him. I use to help him stretch canvases . I liked going to his workplace just to be with him and see how he works. Ibrahim El Salahi is one artist whose works I admire. But surely they have not defined me.

When you are in a certain form the references are looked for. Did you look for the influences outside of visual art? you have mentioned about textile. Did you bring your textile influences in your painting?
I love Ashanti region. While in college I frequently visited Ashanti region. Most of my inspiration came from there. Especially Adinkra fabric that are used there.

  Are you reading, listening to music or looking at particular thing to fuel your work?
Yes, music has always been a part of my journey. If I had not been an artist, I would have been a musician. But surely now I am in a comfortable place. I also read a lot.

Cultural ConfluenceHow will you describe the subject matter of your paintings?
It changes with time. Depends on where I am and a lot of other things. Lately it has to be about spirituality.Sometimes life pushes you to look closely to find yourself at different levels. I am now looking at closely. Presently that's where I am when we talk about the subject matter.

Can you share with us the process of your painting.
I don't like blank canvases. That is the most difficult fight I have with the canvas. Sometimes ideas come sketches and then I explore it. Most of the time I go to canvas directly. Though I do have the thing in my subconscious mind. So I will say that even if the work is a spontaneous work it still comes from your subconscious mind.I find it more exciting to work in that angle.

Folklore, Tree of Wisdom

Do you work on multiple canvases at the same time?
I use to but lately I don't as not much space in the studio now. ( His studio is full of such colorful and bold paintings as you can see in the images above) 

I would like to ask you a question which many artist face and that is when do you know when the painting is finished?
It's really never finished for me and its the same I believe with all the artists not just the beginners. When you are not sure it is good to put it aside for some time. Even a small brushstroke can change the whole painting.

You are a studio based artist , how much time you spend in the studio?
I used to get to the studio at 6 am and leave by 7 pm but now I come a little late. Sometimes I just come to sit here and reflect.

People of your generation work very hard and with dedication unlike some young artists. What will you say about that?
Yes, I work regularly and not only towards an exhibition. You ask me for my works anytime and I will be able to give collection of work that will reflect me.

What is the art scene in Ghana?
There is no industry in Ghana unfortunately though some young ones are trying very hard. We have very creative people here , we just need support to put ourselves on that pedestal. Some people are trying to put the structures together to do that and I am very happy to support anyone in that line.

How is the artist community here in Ghana?
The young ones are doing very well  by coming together.  I am too traditionalist to relate to what is happening now. I think every era has determined how the art form should be and I agree to that. I am happily ready to help out if needed as its the community.
I am a studio based artist. I am involved in founding of some institutions though I am not very active.I rather like to stay away and be more committed to create art. 

What are your upcoming projects?
I don't focus on projects. I just paint.

Where your collective base is?
Not in town. Actually rest of Africa and Asia. I wish I could get a lot more people from Ghana collecting my works but somehow its still not working.

Have you ever thought of doing art practice out of Ghana?
No. when I graduated from the College of Arts, I applied to do Masters and got admitted to Temple University in US. But after 1st semester I left as that was not for me.

What do you think of art fairs? Have your participated in any art fair?
No. In US lot of people travel to art fairs. Its a way to advertise yourself. Though I feel that self promotion is good and I did that in the beginning to get to certain stage, somebody else doing your promotion does work and Art fairs are helpful  towards it.

Is art funding necessary?
It is but I believe we just support the artists to find their value .

What will be a piece of advice for the upcoming artists?
You just work from your heart. If work needs you to represent you, your heart needs to be there. Most of them work towards the sale and I don't blame them but again I would try to get them to add a little bit of heart. Then and then your work will appeal the people.

Born in 1957 in Takoradi, Ghana Mr Wiz Kudowor live and works in Accra, Ghana.
You can view more of his works on his website: