Amoako Boafo’s Mesmerizing Portraiture Celebrates Blackness

Amoako Boafo’s figurative work has captured our eye with its thick, gestural, and painterly brush strokes. Boafo’s work teeters the line between precision and looseness in a breathtaking, novel fashion. Ghanaian-born and Vienna-based Boafo paints portraits of people in his life who he admires for celebrating their blackness. Here, Boafo gives us more insight into his electrifying practice.

What is your background in art?

Portrait and figurative painting.

Have you always painted in the same style?

No, I tried few other techniques before arriving to this one. If you look at Diary Series – taking up space, body politics, expectation series, symptoms of knowledge – one can tell the development.


What other artists most inspire your practice?

Lynnette Yiadom-Boakye, Jordan Casteel, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Jennifer Packer, Kehinde Wiley, Derek Fordjour, Kerry James Marshall, just to mention few.

Who are the figures in your work?

They are family, friends, and friends of friends. They are also people that I admire because of how they celebrate their blackness.



How does your Ghanaian upbringing influence your practice?

It is very visible in the Body Politics series and detoxing masculinity series. In my upbringing, I learned not to associate myself with certain elements/colors that the community teaches you. As a male figure [you are taught] to be aggressive, as they think it’s the only way masculinity can live. In the aforementioned series, I challenged those narratives of masculinity and created my own.

What opportunities has studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna brought you?

My studies in Ghana gave me discipline and Vienna has given me the opportunity to be free.


What movements in art history do you draw from?


What are you most excited for this year?

It was the Roberts Projects show (“I See Me”, a solo exhibition of Boafo’s work which closed on February 23rd) but there are more exciting things coming up.


At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?

Wangari Mathenge