Amoako Boafo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, June 23, 2021 | Phillips

  • "My work is always about representation—documenting, celebrating, and finding new ways to approach blackness. This is what draws me to a particular painting—including its composition, colors, arrangement, facial expression. I am always looking for new ways to celebrate and tell the story of the characters I paint."
    —Amoako Boafo

    A mesmerizing portrait showcasing Amoako Boafo’s striking command of figurative painting his abstract painterly handling, Amoako Boafo’s Untitled exemplifies the artist’s investigations of representing the Black experience. Catching the viewer’s gaze, the present work depicts a figure enveloped in an abstracted expanse of bright yellow. As in Untitled, Boafo’s expressionistic portraits of single figures exude a bold self-confidence which belies the deep intimacy they engender with the viewer through their direct gaze. Recalling the work of Egon Schiele, as well as the mesmerizing portraits of Amy Sherald and Beauford Delaney, Untitled is a visual testament to Boafo’s visionary portrayal of the multiplicities of the human experience.

    Beauford Delaney, Portrait of a Young Musician, 1970. The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, Artwork: © 2021 Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

    "The faces and hands of my subjects are formed in wells of paint with my fingers. The lack of control I have with using my fingers is organic and that shows through in the abstract forms that creates the beautiful faces of my subjects. I use painting as an instrument both literally and to navigate the human experience."
    —Amoako Boafo

    Using his fingers in place of a brush to render his figure’s skin, Boafo developed a unique technique that allows him to both manipulate the paint more directly and let the painting itself guide him through the spontaneous textures that arise from the pressure of the pigment under his fingers. Contouring the face through swirls of oil paint, Boafo presents luminous complexions that serve as the focal point of the composition. In Untitled, the swathe of chromatic yellow and the bold accessories adorning the figure offer a striking contrast to the flat, monochromatic background. Despite their rich color and handling, the accessories are just that—a framing device for the figure, highlighting the sitter’s undeniable presence. The abstracted handling of the visage lends an emphasis to the striking realism of the figure’s eyes, endowing the work with its psychological complexity. Through its rich surface, Untitled embodies Boafo’s employment of painting to achieve the conceptual motive that drives his oeuvre. In the artist’s words, “By making the black faces I paint as strong and lively as they really are.”i


    Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I  (Detail), 1907. Neue Galerie, New York

    i Amoako Boafo, quoted in Gabriel Roland, “In the Studio: Amoako Boafo,” Collectors Agenda, 2019, online.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Los Angeles, Kohn Gallery, myselves, September 11 – November 4, 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



signed, inscribed and dated “AMOAKO M BOAFO 2018 KING” center left; signed, inscribed and dated “AMOAKO M BOAFO 2018 KING” on the reverse
oil on canvas
51 x 44 1/2 in. (129.5 x 113 cm)
Painted in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $655,200

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Auctions
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 23 June 2021