For Marigold Akufo-Addo art has always been a way of life. As she tells Safia Dickersbach in a conversation in her home in Accra, Ghana, she had to be surrounded with art her whole life. Even when she was raising her children and could not focus on creating serious art, she was painting pots, weaving colourful clothes and assembling artists around her: Art is simply essential to her.
Marigold Akufo-Addo has painted all her life. She started at a very early age and can still remember how she impressed her parents at an age of 4 or 5 years with drawing a red truck. Later after going to school in Ghana and the United Kingdom she formalized her art education in London beginning with the Central School of Art and Design and graduating after 4 years of intensive study from the Slate School of Fine Art.
Marigold Akufo-Addo is well known for her specific painting technique of tiny squares in the size of a tenth of an inch. This way of painting started with a poem that her late husband, writer, poet and politician Mukhtarr Mustapha-Cablye wrote about her calling her “four-dimensional”. As she recalls, he “put her in a box” and that was the time when she started painting them, those small boxes that he invoked.
Nowadays minuscule square boxes form the structural basis of her paintings. She first draws them on a canvas, she has “to warm up” to them as she puts it, and only after some time she actually starts painting on them. Marigold Akkufo-Addo uses this artistic language to deconstruct different art forms, textures and hues from the West African region and reposition and recombine those traditional influences in fluid forms of dialogue with modern styles of artistic expression. Her themes are often based in historic events incorporating multi-cultural influences of West-African, Moorish and old-Egyptian origin. Besides the movement of people, often in a metaphorical meaning as historical movements from one point in history to the next, one of her major subjects is the dualism of captivity and freedom. Symbolizing this thematic thread in her work is the falcon bird which she has captured in different paintings as a metaphor for the flight to freedom.
For Marigold Akufo-Addo something becomes art when it has reached its full expression and when there is a reaction to it by the audience who sees the artwork. When there is a reaction to her artworks, she feels that she has accomplished what she was working for.
Marigold Akufo-Addo served on the board of Ghana’s National Commission of Culture from 2003 to 2007. She has recently exhibited at spaces that include the Omanye House, the new location of Ghana’s Artists Alliance, and The Museum Parliament House in Cape Town, South Africa.
As she notes in the final remarks of the interview, she paints for herself and for anybody else who can see what she is seeing. With this maxim she has become one of the few widely acclaimed female contemporary artists in Ghana.
Read about the project on “This Is Africa”: http://bit.ly/16ejiHb
Editing: David Picard
Camera: Enes Hakan Tokyay
Music (for the questions): Ayo Nelson-Homiah — “Express”
Music (for the credits): Sarkodie (feat. El) — “You go kill me”
A film by Safia Dickersbach
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