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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more


signed and dated 'Amoako M Boafo 16' (lower right)
oil on canvas laid down on board
37 ¼ x 43 7/8in. (94.5 x 111.5cm.)
Painted in 2016
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2017.
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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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Alive with vivid colour and feeling, Self-Portrait (2016) is a bold, large-scale painting by Amoako Boafo. The artist regards us with poised intelligence. He tilts his head and body at a slight angle; a delicate, pink-leaved plant grows near his left shoulder, unfolding like a firework against the crisp black backdrop. Boafo’s white top stands out in sharp silhouette. In contrast to these stark, almost abstract colour-fields, the artist has modelled his dark complexion with sensitive, nuanced strokes of his own paint-dipped fingertips: marbled touches of inky blue, violet, ochre and teal create a tactile impasto that glows with light and life. Born of the contact of skin and pigment, Self-Portrait is an intimate emotional and physical encounter.

Boafo’s incandescent, graphic touch has earned him frequent comparisons to Egon Schiele—born in Ghana, Boafo has lived and worked in the Expressionist’s hometown of Vienna, Austria since 2014. The present work riffs directly on Schiele’s Self-Portrait With Chinese Lantern and Fruits (1912), flipping its palette and composition. Putting himself in Schiele’s place, Boafo asserts a vibrant black presence in the canon of Western art. Appropriately, his works have recently joined paintings by Schiele in the collection of Vienna’s Albertina Museum; they have also been acquired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Rubell Museum, Miami, among others.

With fluid strokes and vital colours, Boafo’s technique conveys the dynamism of authentic, individual life. His black subjects, depicted with a subtlety scarce in the historically white world of painting, are intensely present and richly human. Boafo counts Kerry James Marshall, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jordan Casteel and Kehinde Wiley among his influences. As he has put it, ‘the primary idea of my practice is representation, 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). In Self-Portrait, he places his own countenance in the picture: he is luminous, composed, and right at home.

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