Amba Gallery, a contemporary creative art space designed with local concept and materials to exhibit and promote local artistic collections to the world opens in Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel. This new art gallery in the heart of Accra, also seeks to provide space to promote and educate diverse creative audiences about the provenance of African art history, culture and stories behind the authentic artifacts.
Ghanaian business mogul and founder of Amba Gallery, Amadu Baba, talking about the inspiration behind creation of the space indicated that he has realized several brilliant young talents in the art space in the country who lack the ability to reach out to the right market to sale and produce more for the global market.
He added that art and antique sales value worldwide amounted to over US$64 billion in 2019 but dropped slightly to about US$51 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, Africa with Ghana inclusive is only scratching about four percent of this value. This, he indicated is a worry and pragmatic steps such as the Amba Gallery is relevant to cut deeper into that wealth.
“I am interested in marketing Ghana. Art is culture and my line of art is purely cultural, to let people know of the unique culture of Ghana and Africa. If we do not promote our arts for it to have value, we cannot sale it to the world as we are supposed to and also provide economic opportunity to the youth.
It is about time we all come back to look at African art for Africans and stop importation of foreign art concepts because it is not just artwork, it is culture and we can value our culture best than anyone else,” he said.
He expressed that the space is created to promote local artist who are original and serious with their work, and anyone within such category can just approach the management and discuss intentions.
Curator and Creative Director, Amba Gallery, Lungi Morrison indicated that, in an effort to increase the love for arts at the grass root level, Amba Gallery will organize education outreach programs involving different Ghanaian communities. Ms. Lungi highlighted that establishing institutional framework, galleries, museums and art schools are critical to securing Africa’s stake in the sector.
Surprisingly, the uniquely ethnocentric architectural design was masterminded by Albanian- Italian architect, Berta Copa, who is the founder of BleArchitecture. She narrated that studying art and participating in art exhibitions across the world, she got much appreciation for African art and culture and so working with Baba, was a great experience to get involved directly with African art and culture.
“The inspiration was to really show the best of African art and knowledge using the best of African rich cultural materials to preserve the African values. Amba is the culmination of the shared vision between myself and Baba to create a distinctively contemporary African gallery experience in contrast to what is a global heuristic when people think art gallery, for instance ‘white-walls’ and empty spaces. Instead, we are intentional about offering an alternative visual narrative and lens with which to view art, specifically, African sculptural art pieces, bronzes and antique textiles,” she said.
The interior is reminiscent of an amphitheater where perimetrical curvy steps enhance the center piece. The architectural layout embraces contemporary and vernacular traditions. Visitors are met by an elevated circular podium, a deliberate inclusion to the gallery compound, where ancient bronze pieces and Ashanti-stools are openly displayed.
To depict Baba’s birthplace side of culture in the whole set up, natural clay from northern Ghana was used extensively on the surface design to give that standout indigenous feel. “Everywhere that I go to practice architecture I try to understand what the particular originality of that space is, and so I am always an advocate for local culture wherever I go. Architecture, arts, culture, Colours and everything that identifies a people must be expressed in their design,” Ms. Copa said.
Ghanaian fine art photographer, Derrick O. Boateng, headlined the artistic work for the first exhibition of Amba Gallery. According to him, his exquisite designs are inspired by the many Colours and patterns that dominated the mum’s African print fabrics growing up and the beauty of nature in our surroundings.
“For me the people and colors of Ghana are my inspiration, real life, the marketplace, communities, the laughter, there is just so much expression in everyday life. As soon as I step outside my house there is color everywhere. Africa is full of it,” he said.
Mr. Boateng, who recently exhibited in UK, Amsterdam and Paris, dubbed the works ‘A New Decade’. Detailing the creativity indicated that the bold contrasting prints a master of the vibrant “Afro-Pop” digital art modality, dubbed palette of colors or ‘hue-ism’, a term he coined with his team in Accra.
“Paintings reflect contemporary African culture and heritage. Sculptures acknowledges and preserves ancestral wisdom and design modalities; bronze, wood & clay, Textile, a tapestry of culture woven through intricate hand-made loom.”
The young artist has amassed a following and praise from tech giant Google to iconic rapper Common who used his artwork for the cover of his newly released album ‘A Beautiful Revolution’. He urged local artist to attach African feel and originality to everything they do to break into the global space.