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    "I see color as the presence of everything and the absence of nothing. Without color there is no life."
    —Kwesi Botchway

     

    Marking Kwesi Botchway’s auction debut, Green Sofa is an outstanding example of the rising artist’s critically acclaimed practice. Showcasing Botchway’s signature employment of color, Green Sofa captures his unique painterly vocabulary that places him amongst the vital contemporary figurative painters who seek to reframe Black narratives within the art historical canon. In 2020, the present work featured in the artist’s celebrated solo show, Dark Purple is Everything Black, at Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana.

     

     

    Francisco Goya, The Clothed Maja, 1807-1808. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Image: © Museo Nacional del Prado / Art Resource, NY

    Francisco Goya, The Clothed Maja, 1807-1808. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Image: © Museo Nacional del Prado / Art Resource, NY

     

     

    "Botchway forms a new visual language whereby a layering of brushstrokes represents a multiplicity of characters, lifestyles, and perspectives. His new spin on the impressionist movement meditates upon light that is dark, revealing a spectrum of color, energy, and character."
    —Katherine Finerty

     

     

    Born in Nima, a suburb of Accra, Botchway studied at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design with contemporaries and close friends Amoako Boafo and Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe. Currently continuing his studies at the Academy of Visual Arts in Frankfurt, Botchway has virtuosically refined his style in the last decade. Departing from the more photo-realistic character of his earlier figurative works, his more recent work combines his longstanding love for 19th century French Impressionism with African contemporary realism through his self-coined style of “Afro-Impressionism”—further described by the artist as “impressionism from the Black perspective.”i

     

     

    Édouard Manet, The Reading, 1868. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Image: © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY

    Édouard Manet, The Reading, 1868. Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Image: © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY

     

     

    The visual force of Botchway’s figurations lies in the power of color, evoking the influence of Kerry James Marshall on his work as well as conjuring Amy Sherald’s practice of grayscaling the complexion of her figures. In Botchway’s visual language, the hallmark use of purple to render skin and orange for the eyes is anything but arbitrary. Recalling a rich African cultural history of precious murex purple production, “purple means power,” as Katherine Finerty explained.ii “Purple is an ancient color, a color mostly associated with royals and rulers. That was the kind of space in which I wanted to elevate blackness—a place of spirituality, beauty and royalty,” Botchway elucidates.iii “Their hot eyes...come with a force of intensity and untold stories, witnessed and experienced, which I want my viewers to have a feel of and get connected to.”iv

     

     

    "I always want my figures to be vibrant, full of confidence and happiness because that’s how I want to see Black people."
    —Kwesi Botchway

     

     

    A critical element in Botchway’s oeuvre, the fashion of his figures is an important complement to their dispositions. On canvas, he visually fuses his subjects’ actual clothing with those sourced from his imagination or from Instagram. “Fashion is like a language, and at the end of the day, when we dress ourselves, we want to feel good,” he explained.  The matching colors of the figure’s clothes and furniture is a device similarly seen in his groundbreaking triple self-portrait Metamorphose in July, on which he explains, “I am signifying the instinctive way we change with time, whether we are ready or not. One’s ability to remain true to their core no matter their changing nature.”vi
        

     

     


    i Kwesi Botchway, quoted in Stephanie Sporn, “For Ghanaian Portraitist Kwesi Botchway, Fashion and Power Go Hand in Hand,” Galerie, November 13, 2020.
    ii Kwesi Botchway, quoted in Katherine Finerty, Kwesi Botchway: Dark Purple is Everything Black, Gallery 1957, 2020, press release.
    iii Kwesi Botchway, quoted in “Artist Talk—Dark Purple is Everything Black: Kwesi & Katherine in Conversation,” Gallery 1957, June 25, 2021, IGTV.
    iv Kwesi Botchway, quoted in Katherine Finerty, Kwesi Botchway: Dark Purple is Everything Black, Gallery 1957, 2020, press release.
    v Kwesi Botchway, quoted in Stephanie Sporn, “For Ghanaian Portraitist Kwesi Botchway, Fashion and Power Go Hand in Hand,” Galerie, November 13, 2020.
    vi Kwesi Botchway, quoted in Holly Black, “Kwesi Botchway: “I Wanted Viewers to Appreciate All Different Parts of Me,” Elephant, no. 45, May 7, 2021, online.

    • Provenance

      Gallery 1957, Accra
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Accra, Gallery 1957, Kwesi Botchway, Dark Purple Is Everything Black, May 19 – June 9, 2020

4

Green Sofa

signed and dated "K. Botchway 20" lower left; further signed and dated "K. Botchway" on the figure's right proper ankle; signed, titled and dated "Kwesi Botchway Green Sofa (2020)" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
60 1/4 x 55 in. (153 x 139.7 cm)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $214,200

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021