Ever since it opened its doors to the world on March 6, 2016, in Accra, Ghana, the nation’s capital, Gallery 1957 has played host to both established and emerging artists from Ghana and across the African continent.
The art gallery pays homage with its name and day of opening to Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, which became the first British colony south of the Sahara to attain its independence on March 6, 1957.
On its first opening, Gallery 1957 played host to artworks and performances by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, titled My Mother’s Wardrobe.
In its fifth year, Gallery 1957 has launched the first-ever art prize dedicated exclusively to Ghanaian women artists living and working in Africa, which coincides with the anniversary of the gallery since it opened, called The Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize.
This initiative is part of Gallery 1957 to strengthen its commitment to supporting and promoting both established and emerging artists across Ghana and the diaspora. The art prize was named after the Queen mother of Ejisu in the Ashanti Kingdom, part of modern-day Ghana, Ashanti Region, who fought against the British in 1900 against their demand for the Golden Stool.
The art prize is open to all women and self-identifying women artists in Ghana and the Ghanaian diaspora. This art prize by Gallery 1957 is commendable as it comes when women from Africa and its diaspora are getting recognized globally for their contributions in different fields such as politics, health, entertainment, art, global warming, science, and technology, among others.
Furthermore, the art prize will be an avenue for women artists to have their works seen by a wider audience both locally and internationally. It will also be a launchpad for women artists to establish themselves in the art world.
The jurors for this art prize competition is made of internationally recognized individuals in the art world, namely, Ibrahim Mahama, artist, winner of Principal Prince Claus Award for 2020 and founder of Savannah Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Tamale, Zoe Whitely, director of the Chisenhale Gallery in London, Afua Hirch, writer and columnist, Charlotte Newman, head of underrepresented founder start-up business development at Amazon Web Services, Amoako Boafo, figurative painter, Touria El Glaoui, founder of African art fair 1-54 and headed by founder and director of Gallery 1957, Marwan Zhakem.
It will award GH₵40,000 to the winning artist and an artist residency and exhibition at Gallery 1957 in 2021. The second and third prize winners will receive GH₵20,000 and GH₵15,000, respectively.
Applications for The Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize are currently open and will be closed on May 31, 2021, with a winner announced in August 2021.
Starting with only one art space, Gallery 1957 currently has another gallery, Gallery II, located in the Galleria Mall of Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel, Accra, Ghana. In August of 2016 Ghanaian artist, Jeremy Quarhsie was the first artist to exhibit his art collection titled “Yellow Is The Color of Water” in the space the second gallery is located.
In October 2020, Gallery 1957 announced the opening of its new outpost in London. It held its first exhibition by Ghanaian figurative artist Kwesi Botchway titled “Becoming As Well As Being,” co-curated by Ekow Eshun.
Gallery 1957 has played host to other African and African diaspora artists such as Gerald Chukwuma from Nigeria (Standing Ovation, 2017), Thameur Mejri from Tunisia (Eroded Grounds,2019), Michael Soi from Kenya (Almost True, group show with Bright Akwerh, 2018), Abdoulaye Konaté from Mali (Symphonie au Kente,2020), Chidi Kwubiri from Nigeria (motionEmotion, 2018), Modupeola Fadugba, from Nigeria (Dreams From The Deep End, 2018), Florine Démosthène from US (The Stories I Tell Myself,2018), as well as legendary Ghanaian artists, Prof Ablade Glover(The Last 20yrs and Beyond, 2019), Godfried Donkor (Battle Royale: The Last Man Standing 2019) and Paa Joe (Ake Yaaa Heko/One Does Not Take It Anywhere, 2017).
Gallery 1957 showcased works by Ivorian born mixed media artist, Joana Choumali in 2019 titled, How Do You Spell A Silent Sound, series ‘ça va aller’ & ‘Alba’hian’, That same year, on November 13, Choumali became the first African winner of the Eight Prix Pictet for her series “Ça va aller” (“It will be ok”) on this cycle’s theme of Hope.
Apart from playing host to these amazing exhibitions, Gallery 1957 has fostered a growing art community in Ghana made of both artists and art enthusiasts along with many people from all walks of life who come together to socialize and connect while having intimate conversations with artists during opening nights of its art exhibitions.
This allows for more appreciation and understanding of the effort that goes into creating artwork by the artist.
Gallery 1957, in an effort to expand both its local and international presence, has been involved with on-site and off-site activities such as Art X Lagos, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, Accra Art Week, and Art Dubai.
Even in the face of challenges presented to the art world due to the global pandemic, Gallery 1957 has been able to brave the storm and exhibit works by various artists while following strict protocols to ensure safety. Its last exhibition in December 2020, Collective Reflections: Contemporary African and Diasporic Expressions of a New Vanguard, a group show was curated by Danny Dunson, founder of The Legacy Brothers Lab, a global arts incubation residency that provides critical mentorship and resources to developing artists.
Artworks on display for the group show featured works by 10 artists namely, Gustavo de Nazareno, Luke Agada, Oliver Okolo, Adjei Tawiah, Peter Oluwaseun, Aplerh-Doku Borlabi, Chiderah Boseh, Patrick Eugène, Musah Yussif and Justin Aderemi.
In the first quarter of 2021, Gallery 1957 has showcased work by Cornelius Annor, titled, A Family Affair, his first solo exhibition. The current body of work on display at Gallery 1957 is by self-taught artist Nana Danso Awuah-Asante, well known as Artsoul Kojo, titled The History of Ghana.
In the meantime, as part of its 5th-anniversary celebration, Gallery 1957 is preparing for its next exhibition, a group show by Amoako Boafo, Kwesi Botchway, and Otis Kwame Kyei Quaicoe titled Homecoming: Aesthetic of the Cool.
The opening of this exhibition is on March 26, 2021. For more information, visit www.gallery1957.com
Photo Credit: Nii Odzenma @nfoningraphy