Rufai Zakari - New Now London Thursday, December 9, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Executed in 2020, the vibrant colour palette and graphic figurative style of Zakaiya II encapsulates Ghanian artist Rufai Zakari’s approach to contemporary portraiture. Typically depicting individuals he knows well, Zakari dresses his subjects in distinctive clothing realised in their favourite colours. In the present work, a collared dress in dazzling yellow zings against the fresh green background and patterned shirt tied at the waist. The dynamic posture of the figure exudes personality, exemplifying Zakari’s charismatic approach to depicting the human subject.


    Despite the personal nature of the artist’s work, he seeks to address global issues including consumerism, environmental pollution, and the dangers of industrialisation through his artmaking. These concerns are inextricably entwined with his studio practice. Zakari employs a team drawn from his local community in Bawku, Ghana to collect, wash, and heat-press single-use plastic found on the streets. These materials are then trimmed and arranged on top of the artist’s preliminary sketches before being stitched together by hand to create a collaged portrait. The stitches are purposefully left visible and, as in Zakaiya II, are executed in contrasting colours to highlight the different elements that have been brought together from across the city. Convinced in the power of art as ‘a tool to change and also transform society’, Zakari has founded the Rukab Eco-Art Foundation in Bawku which facilitates the upcycling of waste materials through artmaking.i

    Born in 1990, Zakari completed an apprenticeship with the senior Ghanian artist Mozzay before graduating from the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in 2011. In 2020, Zakaiya II was included in a group exhibition organised by the Nubuke Foundation in Accra, Ghana to celebrate the work of significant local artists. In September 2021, Zakari was named alongside Amoako Boafo and Ibrahim Mahama as one of ‘The Next Emerging Names You Need to Know in Accra’. With upcoming shows at Gallery T293, Rome and Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin in 2022, Zakari is a powerful voice at the forefront of contemporary African art today. 

    i Rufai Zakari, quoted in ‘Artist Interview – Rufai Zakari’, Google Arts & Culture, 2020, online

    • Provenance

      Nubuke Foundation, Accra
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Zakaiya II

signed and dated 'Z RUFAI 2020' lower right
stitched plastic
133 x 104 cm (52 3/8 x 40 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

£8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for £10,710

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 9 December 2021