Amoako Boafo - 20th c. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Essay


    Painted with vibrant color and textured pigments, Amoako Boafo’s After the nail color, 2018, is a stunning example of the artist’s distinctive style of portraiture. Boafo describes his oeuvre as being dedicated to the celebration and documentation of the Black Experience; a topic which the arist feels has otherwise been brashly misrepresented throughout art history. The artist’s championed inaugural series, Black Diaspora, to which the present work belongs, draws from Boafo’s personal experiences as a Ghana native living in Vienna and provides a variegated representation of his friends and acquaintances.



    Barkley L. Hendricks, Icon for Fifi, 1982. Artwork © Barkley L. Hendricks



    “My role as an artist is to show alternate perspectives. I want to speak for the people who are unable to speak for themselves.”

    Amoako Boafo


    In After the nail color, a lone female figure bursts out from monochromatic swathes of yellow, Boafo’s signature hue, to display her red-painted fingernails. Her unabashed outward gaze and cheeky pose vivaciously converys the subject’s confidence. Applied with Boafo’s idiosyncratic gestural method, the subject’s luminous skin consists of swirled masses of brown and blue oil paint, creating a texture that elevates her from the uniform backdrop and imbues her with a liveliness radiating from the canvas. Inspired by Austrian painter Egon Schiele, whose technique was similarly gestural, Boafo says “you could really see all the brushstrokes and colors he mixed to make a painting … I just want my paintings to be as free as possible, and Schiele gave me that vibe — the strokes, characters, and composition.”[i]


    While bearing stylistic similarities, Boafo’s subjects eschew the psychological torment present in those of his forbearer. Brimming with liveliness through color and texture, the present work is intentionally concise in depiction, focusing exclusively on the individual — her experience as a black woman and the familiar joy of getting a fresh manicure. In works like these, Boafo invites the viewer into the everyday lives of his fellow members of the Diaspora, valiantly reclaiming the representation of black subjects, those whom were largely underrepresented in traditional portraiture of the past. 

     The present lot installed at STRABAG Artlounge. Photographed by Eva Kelety. Artwork © Amoako Boafo


     [i] (Amoako Boafo, quoted in Charles Manning, “Meet Amoako Boafo, the rising artist making his Art Basel Debut”, Daily Front Row, December 9, 2019, online).

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Vienna, STRABAG Kunstforum, Amoako Boafo: Bold, October 11 - November 8, 2019

    • 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.

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Property from an Important East Coast Collection


After the nail color

signed, inscribed and dated "AMOAKO BOAFO 2018 KING" center right
oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 62 3/4 in. (200 x 159.4 cm)
Painted in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $225,000

Contact Specialist

Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York

1 212 940 1250

20th c. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 2 July 2020