Amoako Boafo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Celebrated for his portraits of individuals from the African diaspora, Amoako Boafo skyrocketed from total anonymity to a red-hot market star in just little over a year. Aiming to ‘represent, document, celebrate, and show new ways to approach Blackness’, Boafo uses a finger-painting technique echoing the textured works of Egon Schiele, abstracting skin into a swirling mass luminous with hues of blue, beiges, reds, and browns.i



    Egon Schiele, Self Portrait with Lowered Head, 1912 

    Leopold Museum Collection


    Boafo was born in Ghana in 1984 and taught himself how to paint as his mother worked as a cook, having lost his father at a young age. Prior to being discovered by chance on Instagram by Kehinde Wiley, who had just created a portrait of Barack Obama for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Boafo was selling artworks on the streets of Accra for just £70 apiece. Now with his works fetching up to US$ 900,000 at auction (The Lemon Bathing Suit), Boafo’s rise is a welcome sign of a shift to diversify overwhelmingly ahistorical and white-centric collections.


    The works of Boafo grapple with notions of identity, whilst remaining loyal still to 19th Century values of aesthetic prowess as well as 20th Century conceptual complexity. Boafo’s portraits of black figures, depicting both friends and famous people, have created a new vernacular uniting the communal and the personal, tradition and novelty. As his fingerprints are embedded into the very flesh of his painted subjects, Boafo reclaims agency and control over representations of Blackness, challenging dehumanising notions ingrained in cultures around the world.

    With his subjects donning garments defined by solid bright blocks or filled with intricate floral patterns, Boafo challenges both racist stereotypes of black primitivism and the culture of hyper-masculinity, embracing both the preservation and expansion of the self. Boafo intermingles abstraction with the physicality of gestural painting and the soulfulness of documentative portraiture, reflecting his own sense of openness and multiplicity.



    Detail of the present lot 


    The current work, Golden Frames, is a prime example of Boafo’s ability to capture figures with undeniable command and ownership. Flat planes of mustard yellow contrast thickly textured hands framing the woman’s face, slightly askew, lips parted. Her head seems to blossom from her cupped hands, with black glasses gazing readily at and through the viewer in an open act of confrontation. The power to look and to scrutinise is held not by the viewer, but by the painted subject, as the abstraction of her face along the overpowering spectacles grants her distance. Thus, it is the viewers themselves who are placed under intense examination.


    Boafo’s works are collected by private and public collectors and institutions, such as the Leopold Museum, Vienna; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles; Rubell Museum, Miami, among others. He was awarded the Walter Koschatzky Art award in 2017 and the Best Portrait Painter of the Year Award after graduating from Ghanatta College of Art and Design in 2008, and is represented by Mariane Ibrahim Gallery and currently works in Vienna, Austria.


    Boafo also recently collaborated with Kim Jones, artistic director of Dior Men, to create a highly personal collection marrying sharp tailoring with Boafo’s own sensibilities of elegant masculinity. Details extracted from Boafo’s paintings, such as an ivy print shirt or an entire face, are reproduced in exquisitely embroidered detail. As Kim Jones said, ‘You have a Breton stripe underneath an Amoako print so it’s French, Ghanaian, Dior, Amoako vibe, all existing together. It’s an exchange.'iiAt a time when the art and fashion world are re-examining their Eurocentricity and whitewashed aesthetics, such a dialogue is particularly resonant and valuable.


    iRyan Waddoups, ‘The Story Behind Amoako Boafo’s Deepy Personal Collection with Dior’, Surface Magazine, 16 July 2020, online

    iiOlivia Singer, ‘”It’s An Exchange”: Kim Jones on His Mesmerising Collaboration with Amoako Boafo for Dior Men SS21’, Vogue, 13 July 2020, online


    • Provenance

      Roberts Project, Los Angeles
      Private Collection, Los Angeles (acquired from the above in 2019)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2020

    • Artist Biography

      Amoako Boafo

      Amoako Boafo’s work questions contemporary misunderstandings of blackness by contrasting personal and structural perceptions and portrayals of black people. His heavily expressionistic and sensitive portraits of friends and acquaintances highlight their self-perception and beauty while challenging the misconceptions of blackness that objectify and dehumanize black people. Often depicting his sitters with animated lucidity against vibrant, monochromatic backgrounds, Boafo asks for understanding of the diversity and complexity of blackness in spite of the frequently negative representations of black people in media and culture. Though born in Accra, Ghana, he now lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

      View More Works


Golden Frames

signed, inscribed and dated 'AMOAKO M BOAFO 2018 KING' centre right
oil on paper
100 x 70 cm. (39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$3,024,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021