CanoeVibes: Kendall Nkrumah returns with ‘Beauty in the Beast’ exhibition today in Accra


…event comes off at World Bank office

Dead into the night, when his family had long retired to bed, wheezing into the new day, Kendall Nkrumah would crawl out of bed, still in his pyjamas, and carefully tiptoe his way through the dark into his studio, where he would put on the light, arrange his tools and begin to work on the next image to be painted.

He would first rub his eyes to eliminate any trace of sleep that might later lure him back to bed. Once he settles and grabs the first image, his eyes fixed on the board, he would bury himself into working until the exact form of the work is achieved.

From images of everyday people to famous musicians, footballers, technology wizards and wild horses, Kendall approaches each work with perfection. He prefers to take his time and do a better job that makes the customer happy than just taking the money and handing over work that does not properly reflect the reputation he has built for himself. He is obsessed with perfection and he always gets it right.

After taking a break from creating images, Kendall Nkrumah returns with ‘Beauty in the Beast’ exhibition today, at the World Bank Ghana office, Accra. The event will showcase a collection of charcoal painted horses, which explore the beauty, strength and elegance of an extraordinary beast. The event is free for the public, and gallery hours is from 10am to 5pm.

Today’s exhibition is a rebirth of Kendall as an artist, almost a decade after taking a break to focus on other areas of interest. It was also a period when there was low patronage for the arts, which was a surprise to him, especially when the pricing bit was not an issue.  He, however, found a new love – woodwork, and extended his creative processes to that aspect.

“Woodwork would present me with the opportunity to work in another creative space and still be able to take care of the house. I spent years honing my skills and started building Pergolas, making furniture and other wall art.”

During the period, he got married and became a father. Raising the children with his wife was a new challenge they had to navigate together. It was both exhausting and exciting. He could not do both; he, therefore, committed himself fully to the upbringing of his children.

But more disturbing was also the outbreak of the covid pandemic, which took the lives of friends and family. He would later lose his mother to cervical cancer. It was a difficult period for him, and the joy of doing art left him. Going through a rather painful list, one friend was taken away by a brain tumor, the other was unable to overcome complications brought on by sickle cell and the third, a neighbour he had known for more than thirty years died in a motorbike accident.

“By November, I had lost my auntie and December would be the worst month of my life when my mum was diagnosed of cervical cancer. Come March and I had lost 5 other close people in my life,” he recounted.

Life, in his own words, came to a halt and he did not find the strength to carry on.

But time, they say, heal wounds and though the scars are still visible, the time has come to regain himself and showcase to the world what he had been working on in the lonely hours of the night. And the collections will be a befitting memory to all of them

“The most important one being my mum. She might not be here now, but hopefully I make her proud,” he said with a wry smile.

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