16 September – 12 December 2023
Gallery 1957, Ghana is proud to announce its group exhibition In and Out of Time, curated by British writer and curator Ekow Eshun, opening on 16 September 2023 in Accra. The exhibition runs parallel to a solo show of Ghanaian artist-in-residence Yaw Owusu, curated by Nigerian curator Azu Nwagbogu, as well as a presentation of artist Priscilla Kennedy, winner of the Gallery’s Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize 2022. Drawing from the Ghanaian concept of Sankofa– to return to the past in order to move forward – the exhibition explores African cultural notions of non-linear time and brings together both established and emerging contemporary artists from across Africa and the diaspora. The exhibition gathers new artworks from a range of mediums, including painting, collage and moving image. The show introduces artists who are new to Gallery 1957’s roster, such as Alexandria Smith, Emma Prempeh, Julian Knxx, Kenturah Davis, Lyle Ashton Harris, Todd Gray, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, and Zanele Muholi as well as returning artists Amoako Boafo, Arthur Timothy, Godfried Donkor, Kwesi Botchway and Tiffanie Delune.
Interrogating concepts of time, African diasporic identities and collective memory, the works on show question linear narratives of progress and modernity which have historically categorised people of African origin as less developed than citizens of the West. Instead, the works on show draw on African cultural notions of non-linear time as well as the concept of circular time presented by American scholar Michelle Wright, who takes inspiration from quantum physics to re-envision time as a circle, offering it as a place of ‘black possibility,1 where past, present, collective memory and speculative future merge into one.
Gallery 1957 presents the exhibition in a large-scale, industrial space of 1,400-square metres that amplifies the exhibition’s narrative and invites the artists to create unique works in strong dialogue with the scale of the space.
A leading figure in the international arts scene and a long-term collaborator of Gallery 1957, Eshun comments: “I am excited to return to Gallery 1957 and to work with its continuously expanding roster of established and emerging artists. In Western thought people of African origin have long been imagined as the antithesis of ideas of modernity, progress, and futurity. This exhibition explores the work of artists whose work confounds those binaries and instead draws inspiration from African cultural notions of time, space and being. It continues my interrogations into black identity, which include ‘The Black Fantastic’ at London’s Hayward Gallery in 2022, as well as the upcoming show ‘The Time is Always Now’ at London’s National Portrait Gallery in 2024.”
Alongside Eshun’s show, Gallery 1957 presents a show of artist-in-residence Yaw Owusu, curated by Azu Nwagbogu, curator of the 2024 Benin Pavilion at The Venice Biennale and Founder and Director of African Artists’ Foundation, based in Lagos, Nigeria. One of the first artists to work with Gallery 1957, the exhibition comes six years after his solo debut, and sees the artist return to Ghana from New York. The new body of works focuses on the economics, independence, and value of socioeconomic culture in Ghana today. Known for his use of Ghanaian pesewas (pennies), the new works take inspiration from the geometric abstraction on traditional Ghanaian Kente fabrics, looking at how the introduction of gentrification and immigration in the country plays into the current Ghanaian motives. Opening simultaneously, Gallery 1957 also presents the solo exhibition of Priscilla Kennedy, winner of the second edition of The Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize in 2022. Kennedy’s new body of work inserts embroidered female forms into patriarchal hegemonic cultural symbols such as Keffiyeh garments and masculine Kente fabrics, challenging established notions of gender. The Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize is an accolade launched by Gallery 1957 in 2021, dedicated to women artists living and working in Ghana and its diaspora, and plays an important role in fostering their careers, both locally and internationally.
The exhibitions form the core of Gallery 1957’s annual Cultural Week, which launched in 2016. Going into its eighth edition, it brings together both celebrated and new artists from West-Africa and the African diaspora across the Gallery’s exhibition programme, residencies, and the Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize.