Our current exhibition 'Prints in Counterpoint' has been popular with visitors to our World Cultures gallery, where it is showing in the introductory area of the Africa section of the gallery at World Museum until October. This exhibition of sixteen vibrant lino prints, by the Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami, made a particular impact on Merseyside resident and Liverpool University MA student Abbey Andersen.
Abbey’s passion for African contemporary art and for Atta Kwami’s work motivated her to meet up with the artist to find out more about his work. She has written up her impressions of Atta Kwami’s exhibition and shares them with us here:
“As a graduate of an African Studies degree, I was thrilled last year to hear that World Museum had an upcoming Atta Kwami exhibition. After speaking to the Curator of African Collections at the World Museum I was able to meet Atta and his artist partner (and sometimes artistic collaborator) Pamela Clarkson on the day the exhibition was installed in Liverpool. I felt truly honoured to have had this opportunity to talk with Atta about his exhibition and other works.
"Hearing Atta speak about his work with such passion made me realise that what drew me to his work was partly the love and energy he put into each piece. I first encountered Atta Kwami’s work in 2011, when I saw his ‘Amsterdam Archways’ open exhibition in Holland. If you don’t know what this artwork is then just imagine an area of roads and flats with a central grass island and then in the middle this bold and bright monument of colour. The piece forced people to stop and wonder what it meant. For me was a really exciting piece bringing colour and culture to this suburban part of Amsterdam and making people think. Since then I have been captivated by Atta’s works of colourful matrices subtly linked to his Ghanaian heritage.The cultural references in his artworks is something which I admire, especially where he zones in on elements I recognize, like Kente textiles, and uses the paint on the canvas to recreate these with a new energy."
Liverpool Counterpoint 11. Copyright Atta Kwami.
"‘Prints in Counterpoint’ is an intriguing and fascinating addition to the Africa gallery at World Museum that has made me appreciate Atta Kwami’s diverse and unique skill with colour. My favourite print is 'Liverpool Counterpoint 11', a striking green, black, red and yellow composition that stands out beside the rest. At first it is slightly confusing. There are various rectangular shapes in green and an off-yellow shade, set with linear and zig-zag pattern, separated by a black snake like line from a mosaic of red, yellow, blue and black lozenges. Your eye doesn’t know where to start or where to end. It is such an interesting piece which incorporates so many elements.
I was fortunate to have Atta Kwami in front of the prints to explain a bit about their inspiration. He revealed that part of the inspiration for 'Liverpool Counterpoint 11' came from his experience of walking around the dock area in Liverpool. I find it amazing that something so beautiful and stimulating came from the artist walking past something I take for granted every day. Perhaps this is why this print really resonated with me. Each print in the exhibition is striking and you can take a long time standing and staring at each one. Once you have finished contemplating the prints you can go round the main Africa displays in the World Cultures Gallery to find where some of the inspiration has come from. I hope everyone who views the prints can find hidden stories brought to life in the colour and energy that Atta Kwami has created.”
Lid of an Asante gold dust currency box in World Museum African Collection (accession no. 24.5.06.36). Donated by A. R. Chinnery in 1906. One of the items that inspired Atta Kwami's Liverpool Counterpoint 15 print pictured at the top.