President Kufuor’s Art Collection

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John Agyekum Kufuor

A book of essays on seventy selected global art works of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Art and the Power of Goodness, will be the subject of a pre-launch discussion by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London.

The 200-page book, the first of such a Ghanaian presidential collection, is written by President Kufuor’s long-time biographer, the historian Ivor Agyeman-Duah.

With a foreword by the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, The Rt. Hon Gordon Brown, the webinar on February 23 has an anticipated global audience of 300 and will be a conversation, Art and Power- Ghanaian Presidential Collection. Supported by SOAS Alumni in Ghana, it will be between the University’s Senior Teaching Fellow in the Art History of Africa, Dr. David Malik also an associate of Sotheby’s and who lectures as well in African art at Christie’s and Agyeman-Duah.

“A strong correlation between art and power,” the author intimates that the Kufuor Collection was acquired, “along the way and whether in villages and cities in Ghana as in Fanti hair fashions of the early 1900s, Ibo personages of the Benin bronze sculptures, Yoruba paintings, Sahelian art, or others in Ethiopia or among the Maasai in Kenya, across the Maghreb into Morocco, infatuation with Persia classical period, Ottoman or Asia Minor’s remains of modern-day Turkey, northern Lebanon and parts of Greater Asia.”  Agyeman-Duah explains that they have universal human values of “family life and belief, ancient trade relations and routes as well as patterns of contemporary geo-politics.” And these, he discusses in duality of aesthetics and functional values in chapters such as, A Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Lesson in Portrait Painting, A Woman’s Tender Care, Faith and “The Testimonies of the Martyrs”, Before the Better Angels of Our Nature, Cloth of Many Colours, among others.

Published in three different editions- Bookcraft in Ibadan, Nigeria, Digibooks in Accra, Ghana and a joint European and US edition, it has received praises from the British Museum and a conservation architect and critic with the UK Supreme Court Art Trust who describes it as “offering of tokens of exchange and regard between statesmen, politicians and dignitaries.” The distinguished Nigerian historian, Toyin Falola says it is “a thoughtful mediation on the relationship and significance of art and politics.”

A separate 70-page companion booklet, Keeper of the Remains- A Collection of Poetry by Agyeman-Duah is published alongside in further mediation of artistic creations such as the architecture of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Paul’s in London and other sojourner’s poetic encounters as diverse as snow formation in the little Kingdom of Lesotho, the hills of Kigali or at the tomb of the great economist and Nobel laureate, W Arthur Lewis in St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean.

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