“Art has always been around me since childhood,” says Oscar Korbla Mawuli Awuku, who is a Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist.
His body of work explores pre-colonial culture but also addresses decolonised practices in contemporary culture, the essence of identity of the black body, advocates for women and seeks to ask empowering questions in society. He calls his art Anansinism. It comprises the adinkra (symbols) collection which is all about black heritage.
Awuku is currently reading commercial arts in painting at Takoradi Technical University in Ghana. “We improvised to create toys and objects to play with, like cars and soccer players which we assembled from discarded milk tins and bottle tops as children. Everybody wanted to build the bestlooking toys at the time. So I would say that, unconsciously, my sense of art appreciation began from my childhood and perhaps it was also informed by my desire to impress my friends with the best-looking play object at the time,” he said.
He said growing up as an artist in Ghana, there were less opportunities for young talented artist and practitioners, also there was immense stereotype regarding people who had the desire to pursue art.
Awuku said it was because the community in which he grew up didn’t appreciate the value in art, because they didn’t feel it was significant in terms of wealth in the society like white-collar jobs. Apparently the most common stereotype in Ghana is, “artist are lazy practitioners”.
He reminds young African visual artists that their path is a tough one and they should pursue their desire wholeheartedly. In his closing remark, he told us that his body of work is a celebration of his own experiences as well as those in the communities which he found myself.
“My works involves vivid colours to break free from the traditional way of painting only on canvas. “I explore pre-colonial culture as well as decolonised practices in contemporary culture, the essence of black identity and questions of empowerment in society,” he said.
His work mostly portrays the advocacy and empowerment of women to stand equally for leadership roles just like men do in society.
Speaking to edwardasare.com, Oscar said: “After school I would love to embark on a project to educate young artists like myself to research more into their crafts and support them with the little knowledge I have attained in the field of study to help them grow artistically.
“Because it isn’t all about just painting on the canvas but how you present it gives it value.”