Contemporary African Art Exhibition Series


 “My work is described conventionally as ‘abstract.’ Given that there is a very precise, knowable set of resources at the back of it, I would describe it as schematic; like a map, or rather a reaction to or interpretation of a map. It is about ownership, a way to finding myself, where I am. In that sense my work enhances a viewing of Kumasi, and Ghana where the sign painting workshops and rich textile traditions have engaged my attention. My passion lies in making… I have focused on colour as subject matter, perhaps taking me back to what I started with as a child; my mother’s paints and her textiles were good resources. In recent works I have pursued the use of the imaginary grid as a matrix for emotion. This structure is a smokescreen within which to create something new. Working in different places requires an ever-present preparedness to take the work wherever it demands to go. Wherever I go I take my world with me.....

The qualities I seek on my work are clarity, simplicity, intensity, subtlety, architectonic structure, musicality (rhythm and tone), wholeness and spontaneity. So many strands inevitably manifest themselves in painting: jazz, the timbre of Ghanaian music (Koo Nimo), improvisation, arrangements of merchandise and so forth. I also see corresponding aesthetic commonalities with wall paintings and music from northern Ghana, the limited range of earth colours and the pentatonic scale of the xylophone. Poetry is able to sustain the life of language through new forms of usage. In painting it is also re-interpretation, improvisation and variation that affect innovation and development.”

Atta Kwami was born in Accra, Ghana, in 1956. He grew up immersed in the arts—his mother was a well-known visual artist and art educator, his father a musician. He studied painting with Ato Delaquis at the College of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). After completing his first degree he spent several years in southeast Nigeria teaching art before returning to Ghana to assume a position as Lecturer in painting and printmaking at the College of Art, KNUST.

Until recently, he served on the faculty of the College of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. Today he is an independent artist, maintaining studios in Ghana and England and exhibiting extensively worldwide.

Kwami's paintings are held in major public collections including the National Museums of Ghana and Kenya, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The British Museum. His numerous awards and recognitions include a Philip L. Ravenhill Fellowship, (UCLA) and the Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC (2010).



Susuka (Clarity) Gallery CAAS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA   2010
Fufofo (Coming Together) Howard Scott Gallery, New York   2010
Take Time Beardsmore Gallery, London (+Pamela Clarkson)   2009
Harmonium Howard Scott Gallery, New York, USA Small Small Oriel 6 & 7, Llandudno, Wales   2008
Amadede Exhibition The Open Univesity Library, Milton Keynes   2007
2Schoner Wohnen: Eilfried Huth Landesmuseum Joanneum/Kunstlerhaus Graz, Austria   2006
Atta Kwami, Nicolas Krupp Contemporary Art Gallery, Basel   2005
Nicolas Krupp Contemporary Art Gallery, Basel   2002
Atta Kwami Kunsthalle, Basel Kumase Blue Beardsmore Gallery, London (+ Pamela Clarkson)   2001
small small Alliance Francaise Kumasi, Ghana   2000
Geometric Organic National Museum, Accra, Ghana   1998-99
Fordsburg Artists Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa   1997
Grace Kwami Sculpture: An Artist’s Book by Atta Kwami, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK   1996
Atonsu Agogo Beardsmore Gallery, London Newtown Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa   1995
Point of View Gallery, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, USA   1994-95
Journey Out Beardsmore Gallery, London (+Pamela Clarkson) Station Steps Castle Museum, Nottingham, England   1993
Ecology Arts Centre, Accra, Ghana   1990
Paintings Prints College of Art, Kumasi, Ghana   1987
The British Council, Enugu, Anambra State, Nigeria   1982
The British Council, Accra, Ghana   1980
New Cultural Centre, Tamale, Ghana   1976
Drawings, Paintings and Textiles Science Lecture Theatre, Mawuli School, Ho, Ghana   1975


Long Long Gone Leo Koenig, New York   2010
Design Without End: The Essential Art of African Textiles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA   2008
The Poetics of Cloth: African Textiles / Recent Art Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York   2008
ARESUVA African Regional Summit & Exhibition on Visual Arts, Abuja, Nigeria   2008
Rotonde des Arts Conteporains (RAC) Five West African artists, Vle Biennale Internationale de la Gravure d’Ile-de-France   2008
68 Graveurs Francais et d’Afrique, Orangerie de Madame Elisabeth 73 Versailles, France   2008
Draw Your Soul University of Sunderland, UK   2008
2006 To the Edge Beardsmore Gallery, London   2006
4779, with Ferdinand Penker, Galerie Eugen Lendl, Graz Chaumalieres Carrefour International de L’Estampe, Chaumalieres   2006
A Tale of Two Cities Goethe Institut/Alliance Francaise, Acccra/Kumasi   2006
CLUSTER New York: Participant Inc, New York, Espacio   2006
El Particular, Mexico City   2006
2005 Re-Configuring the Contemporary KMUST Museum, Kumasi   2005
Triennale Chaumalieres Sixieme Triennale Mondials d’Estampes Petit Format, Chaumalieres Auvergne, France   2003
Nicolas Krupp at Artissima, Torino   2002
Kumasi Junction Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, Wales   2002
Ten, Beardsmore Gallery, London   2002
Triangle Workshop 2000, 92nd floor World Trade Centre, New York, USA   2000
A Slice of Contemporary African Art Galleri B:FORS, Stockholm,   2000
South Meets West Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland   2000
South Meets West National Museum, Accra, Ghana   1999
A Step in Africa National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi   1999
An Exhibit of Contemporary African Art Earthhues, WorldSpace, Wash DC, USA   1998
Alternating Currents 2nd Johannesburg Biennale   1997
Print Collection College of Art Gallery, KNUST, Kumasi   1996
A Collaboration and Exchange Ghana & Humboldt County, Eureka, California, USA   1996
Volatile Alliances Africus Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa   1995
Tenq’ St Louis, Senegal   1994
Royal College of Art Printmaking Portfolio 1993 Angela Flowers Gallery, London   1993
The Artist as Social Commentator Goethe Institut, Accra   1989
Mother and Son National Museum of Ghana, Accra   1986


Ainaesthetic, Recent Works of Ayo Aina - Maison de France, Lagos (Solo)   2003
10 @ 2000, an Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture- Alliance Francaise, Kaduna   2000
Uncovering the Tracks, Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture - Crystal Palace Hotel, Abuja   2000
Revue Noire, an Exhibition of Contemporary African Art- French Cultural Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos   1999
Le Sanctuaire, an Exhibition of Drawings, Painting, Sculptures and Ceramics - Maraba Pottery, Kaduna   1996
Different Strokes I, an Exhibition of Paintings and Sculptures of Alliance Francaise, Kaduna (A Three-Man-Show)   1994


National Museum of Ghana    
The Hope and Optimism Portfolio, Heynitz Castle, Windhoek, Namibia    
Victoria and Albert Museum, London    
Museum of Contemporary Art, Abidjan    
National Museum of African Art, The Smithsonian, Washington DC    
National Museum of Kenya / Kuona Trust, Nairobi    
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.    
Victoria and Albert Museum, London.    
The British Museum, London.    


Philip L. Ravenhill Fellowship, (UCLA); Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.   2010
Ghana Cultural Fund Award for the publication of Ph.D. thesis: Kumasi Realism, 1951-2007: An African Modernism. 1st Thoyer Distinguished Visiting Scholar, New York University.   2009
Artist in Residence, Howard University Art Department, Washington, D.C.   2000
Artist in Residence 2nd Lake, Naivasha International Artists Residencies, Kenya   1999
Artist in Residence Fordsburg, Artists Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa   1997
Commonwealth Foundation, Fellowship (African Region)   1991