Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art
April 15 — 20, 2023
Auction begins to close at 2:00 pm ET
Kofi Antubam (1922-1964)
Lot 30 Details
Kofi Antubam (1922-1964), Ghanaian
pastel on paper
signed; graphite sketches verso
sheet 22.3 x 15 in — 56.7 x 38.2 cm
Private Collection, Toronto, ON
Kofi Antubam’s work helped define a newly independent Ghana, influencing subsequent generations of artists. Antubam studied art at Achimota School, in Accra, and Goldsmiths College, in London. He would blend those two distinct cultural viewpoints throughout his career. Antubam believed that contemporary African artists should use European-style training and techniques to depict traditional African culture. African artists, he argued, must incorporate artistic elements from abroad, so as to enrich local styles and create a unique and elevated Afrocentric artistic identity. Antubam was proud of his country, believing that art should be an integral part of Ghana’s future, as it was an important part of the nation’s past.
Antubam also designed state regalia for the nation of Ghana, including the parliamentary mace and presidential seat commissioned by Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana. Antubam also designed wooden reliefs for the facade of the parliament building in Accra, as well as murals for the United Nations building in Geneva. In 1957, after Ghana declared independence, Antubam was appointed as an official state artist by Nkrumah, and laboured to present Ghana as a fully-fledged nation. Antubam was also known for his pioneering use of adinkra in fine art: adrinkra are Ghanaian symbols which represent concepts or aphorisms and are used extensively in design, on pottery, textile, architectural features and carvings. Antubam’s work was exhibited in Ghana as well as internationally, including London, Paris, Rome, Düsseldorf, and New York.