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Amoako Boafo: what could possibly go wrong, if we tell it like it is

Gagosian 980 Madison Avenue, New York

Artist: Amoako Boafo

When I’m making paintings, I want the characters to be strong, I want them to be free, I want them to be independent, I want them to be unapologetic.

—Amoako Boafo

Gagosian presents Amoako Boafo: what could possibly go wrong, if we tell it like it is, the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery, and his first in New York. A selection of the exhibited works will travel to Accra, Ghana, and be presented at dot.ateliers in May 2023.

Installation Views

Boafo’s large-scale portraits portray his friends and those he admires with candor, joy, and individuality. Focused on Black identity, his monumental paintings have already become key works in the representation of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora.

Boafo paints the faces and bodies of his subjects with his fingertips rather than a brush, the directness of his touch enhancing their expressive qualities. The works’ surfaces feature a gestural facture which the artist uses to model the figures’ anatomy. Making eye contact, Boafo’s subjects return the gaze of the viewer in an assertion of presence and identity, reflecting the artist’s interest in conveying charisma and individuality. The characters occupy domestic interiors, their casual grace reinforced by the familiarity of these settings.

Gold Daytona (2023) is a self-portrait of the artist in a pensive pose of absorbed thoughts, wearing a fitted mesh shirt and the Rolex watch indicated by the work’s title.

Boafo has collaborated with New York–based poet and lyricist aja monet on the occasion of what could possibly go wrong, if we tell it like it is. A catalogue documenting the exhibition is forthcoming.

Boafo’s commitment to the celebration of Black existence translates to his work in support of the democratization of art. The paintings’ travel to Accra presents an opportunity to include his peers affected by US visa restrictions who would not otherwise be able to experience the exhibition.

dot.ateliers is a space intended to strengthen and advance Ghana’s cultural ecosystem. Boafo commissioned architect David Adjaye to design and build the three-story building, which features a gallery, studios, an art library, and a café. The space offers exhibitions and residencies that encourage creative experimentation and support bold expression.

Installation view, Amoako Boafo: what could possibly go wrong, if we tell it like it is at Gagosian 980 Madison Avenue, New York, March 16 - April 22, 2023. Artwork © Amoako Boafo. Courtesy Gagosian. Photo: Rob McKeever

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