AMOAKO BOAFO (B. 1984)
AMOAKO BOAFO (B. 1984)
AMOAKO BOAFO (B. 1984)
AMOAKO BOAFO (B. 1984)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF AN ESTEEMED PRIVATE COLLECTOR
AMOAKO BOAFO (B. 1984)

Joy Adenike

Details
AMOAKO BOAFO (B. 1984)
Joy Adenike
signed and dated ‘Amoako M Boafo 2017’ (lower right)
oil on six joined sheets of paper
65 3/4 x 44 3/4in. (167 x 113.7cm.)
Executed in 2017
Provenance
Private Collection, Vienna (acquired directly from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in 2017, on the brink of Amoako Boafo’s rise to international acclaim, Joy Adenike belongs to his early series of portraits depicting young Black creatives based in Vienna. A magnificent example of his celebrated finger-painting technique, it is closely related to his 2019 portrait of the same sitter, which was acquired by the Guggenheim Museum shortly after its creation. In both works, Adenike—a young artist and community activist—is depicted in three-quarter profile, clad in striped trousers. Infused with the elegance and poise of a Renaissance portrait, she casts a dramatic shadow upon the wall. Light dances behind her eyes and across her skin; a faint smile flickers around her lips. Boafo himself had moved to Vienna three years prior. There, he forged a practice that drew together the influence of the Western canon with a deep personal commitment to honouring Black subjects. In the present work, Adenike’s head is framed by a seemingly blank canvas upon the wall: Boafo, almost quite literally, seems to write her into the pages of art history.

In 2017, Boafo was beginning to make waves in the art world. That year he mounted his first solo institutional exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Vienna and the Volkskunde Museum, as well as receiving the Walter Koschatzky Art Prize. Over the following years, he would quickly take his place on the international stage. While Vienna’s rich artistic heritage would have an important impact upon his language—the influence of Egon Schiele and Gustave Klimt is evident in the present work—Boafo was first and foremost committed to ‘documenting, celebrating and showing new ways to approach Blackness’ (A. Boafo, quoted in V. L. Valentine, ‘Amoako Boafo is Latest Young Black Artist to Make Major Auction Debut’, Culture Type, 11 February 2020). Boafo was born in Ghana, and studied at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design. In Vienna and beyond, he immersed himself in a network of Black artists, musicians, writers and curators whom he strove to honour through his work. More recently, Boafo has also sought to give back to his home town, recently opening a pioneering artists’ residence and gallery in Accra.

While works such as the present are powerful instances of Black representation, they are also testament to the sheer virtuosity of Boafo’s technique. Working with his fingers, the artist creates marbled, variegated surfaces that are as tactile and complex as skin itself. ‘Nuances of dark brown, ochre, purple, cobalt blue, moss green and saffron yellow are mixed in an organic movement made with the fingers’, he explains. ‘Years of experimenting produced this technique, which makes my subjects more beautiful. The absence of a tool—and therefore of an obstacle—frees me and allows me to achieve a very expressive skin colour that I could never get with a brush. A simple movement can create an incredibly intense energy and reveal highly sculptural figures, which I adore, with a certain lack of control. It’s fairly paradoxical really: you’re taught to use a brush, and instead you end up going back to the origins, finger painting’ (A. Boafo, quoted in N. Trembley, ‘Interview with Amoako Boafo, rising star in the art world’, Numéro, 1 March 2021). In Joy Adenike, the figure comes alive at the artist’s touch, every inch of her form a celebration of painting’s visceral power.

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