Rethinking art as an aesthetic statement or as an investment …as Hacajaka comes to town

Right from the beginning of time, when commercial value is attached to the works of art, the value of artworks increase, appreciating like any other valuable property.

A research conducted by Jianping Mei and Michael Moses, professors at New York University’s Stern School of Business, showed that art can complement “equities, bonds and other more traditional investments…” The research stated that products of fine art, as they appreciate over time, has the potential to outperform equities.

A recently (2019) published report on Global art market sales by an economist, Clare McAndrew, estimated global art sales for 2018 at US$67.4billion, 6percent higher than 2017 performance. The survey showed that sales continued on its upward trajectory from year to year underpinned by the appreciation of the value of art works.

Africa is not left out in this trend as the works of leading African artist have also been appreciating and categorised amongst the art of the world with growing investment aspects. The late Nigerian painter and sculptor, Ben Enweonwu’s works go for as much as US$1.7million and his Ghanaian counterpart, El Anatsui’s work fetches as high as US$1.5million. Art collection today is being taken seriously.

Perhaps, the underlying value of art informs the buzz that usually follows the announcement of a forthcoming art exhibition in any art appreciating society. And when the exhibition is of the works of a world renowned artist, it becomes a tale of excitement sparked by anticipated relish of the mingle between aesthetics and intellectual titillation.

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The expected coming into town in November of Ghana’s world renowned artist, Harry Agyemang, popularly known in the art circles as ‘Hacajaka’, is already creating a stir befitting of his status.

Hacajaka is one of Africa’s contemporary artists whose works hold the viewer spellbound with aesthetic delight and intellectual engagement. His dominantly abstract works come with themes that become a journey rarely concluded at the exhibition hall. They offer every collector’s delight and compel purchase. Hence there is something for every viewer.

Appreciated from the perspective of aesthetics, Hacajaka comes across as an artist who is not frivolous with his choice and application of colours. His colours are meticulously applied with impactful messages and impressions. So also are his themes, hidden in ancient and modern meanings drawn from the recesses of rich signs and symbols, like the adinkra symbols, and the fish used as a secret symbol by the early Christians.

Take his inexhaustible Savanna Fisherman  for instance, a face garlanded with symbols that take one into an endless journey of appreciation – the simple but intelligence radiating lively one eye to the other one that becomes the head of a guinea fowl whose body make up the jaw of the face sandwiched by two large distinctly scaled tilapia fish and sitting on an exaggerated neck that appears as if its holding gushing waters with fish, and little fishes and tiny adinkra symbols that become air bubbles fizzing all over inside the neck.

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Notice the scales of the fishes come as skulls, presumably skulls of scores of fallen Christian evangelists conveyed in the Christian fish symbolism. And the large and prominent yellow third eye on the forehead bestriding the other two eyes majestically in a way that makes one wonder if the artist intends to say that it takes spiritual eyes to identify souls in need of salvation in the Islam dominated barren savannah.

The subdued but solid colour hues suggests the artist is not primarily seeking to appease but totally dedicated to exorcising his deep psycho-spiritual experience on the canvass. That is how profound his works come across. They all hold viewers engaged as they tarry in front of Hacajaka’s paintings seeking to come to the conclusion of the quest of their aroused senses.

The works of Hacajaka is, indeed, another collector’s dream come to town; and a must view at the Dei Centre, Tesano, where the exhibition, title “Eyes”, opens from November 14 till December 6th.

Harry Agyemang, the Hacajaka is based in the USA. A founding member of the Prekese Art Group and a BA Fine Art painting, with an MA African Art from the College of Art, UST. His works are part of the collection of the National Museum, Dei Collection and the Chimedie Museum, Onitsha, Nigeria.

As Dwight Cass, Editor-In-Chief, Worth magazine, said, apart from the financial gains we get from art, we will always still find value in their aesthetic rewards. Hacajaka offers them all.

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