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About AnnanArt

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Francis Annan was born and raised in the Adabraka neighborhood of Accra, Ghana. As part of a large family, he found the inevitable joys of childhood pleasure and entertainment through drawing and painting. After his Junior Secondary School education, Annan was encouraged to attend Accra’s Ghanatta College of Art and Design. He passed out with a Diploma in Arts and Paintings and received the Best Student of Still Life, Best Imagination and Composition, and Best Abstract Drawing awards upon graduation (three out of only five awards given). Today, Annan often returns to Ghanatta to teach landscape painting to current students.

After graduation, Annan joined the Revolution Art Organization and displayed his work in several group and solo exhibitions in Accra. In 2013, Annan helped found the African Young Artist Organization (AYAO), an organization dedicated to supporting African youth in the arts through programs and exhibitions. AYAO held its first exhibition in February 2014.

Annan’s works are based on abstract concepts, pointillism, and landscapes, which he uses to capture the joys, struggles and ultimate paradox of African life. This challenges a world that sees Africa through lenses of conflict and poverty. His artistic talents extend to another of his passions: clothing design. Using African cloth and paint, he has created a fun and unique style of clothing.

In addition to speaking English, Annan is fluent in Twi, Ga, Ewe and Hausa.

Artist’s Statement

As a child in Accra, “poses” were part of daily life. I was surrounded by women peeling oranges, carrying head pans, and braiding hair. Children played in the dirt, created games, took care of siblings, and cooked with their mothers. I did not realize at the time how much these images or poses had a lasting impression in my mind; little did I know how important they were in revealing the “secret” joys of which millions of Africans are familiar yet to which much of the world remains blind.

I use poses to expose the paradox of everyday African life. By depicting a pose as semi-abstract, my paintings highlight both the mundane and the joy in everyday African life. Images that seem pitiful or sad to the outside world have much deeper implications. A woman feeding her family suggests pride, not inferiority. A child playing in a slum suggests friendship and imagination, not hopelessness. This “mundane” life that the outside world sees has taught us imagination, creativity, ingenuity, and connection. Herein lies the paradox. Africans can find meaning in the meaningless. And therefore, it is not meaningless.

My work focuses largely on African women and children—misunderstood groups who play a vital role in African culture. While the pose itself first elicits emotion, the colors highlight the beauty and underlying meaning. With color, mundane poses appear beautiful or innocent. Some of my pointillism works are inspired by a television with bad reception. When the picture on the screen becomes scratched or pixelated, the image is distorted, creating confusion for the viewer as to what is happening in the show. But the newly produced image is a work of art in itself, with the blended colors and patterns. As an artist, I try to restore beauty to the distorted images of African life.

For instance, many of my townscape works seem to change with the daylight. Neighborhoods such as Jamestown in Accra, though poor and filled with informal settlements, provide some of the most beautiful scenery in Accra. The character of my Jamestown paintings changes with how light hits the work. They can show a dark scene in the midst of a storm. They can also depict the calm after the rain, where reflections lighten the town and people go back to their livelihoods. The character of a piece shows that a place can have a dynamic character, if only the observer looks for a long enough time.

Another of my paintings, “Married” depicts four intertwined feet. The painting shows that the word “Marriage” means more than unifying. It is also intertwining. Some pieces combine; some complement. Parts of the whole may keep their own shape, but are partly defined or accented by another. This painting shows a marriage of bodies, a marriage of souls, and a marriage of lives. In a marriage, pieces come together, and whether combined or complemented, they create something bigger—a new entity.

My purpose as an artist is two-fold, having domestic and international goals. Within Ghana, I hope to help Ghanaians celebrate who they are. With art, people can experience a sense of self when they identify with a painting. Art not only helps shape identity; it comprises a global multi-billion dollar business in which Ghana deserves to take part. If Ghana can invest more in young artists, the entire country will prosper. This leads to my second purpose: depicting African life through art to the international audience. Not all people can travel to Ghana, or Africa, to witness cultures first-hand. What they know about Africa is what is shown to them. My artwork is meant to challenge those who only see Africa through the lenses of conflict, poverty, and corruption.

One Comment
  1. Akanksha Hanna permalink

    My husband and I loved your exhibited art showcased in Milwaukee at the Intercontinental Hotel! Your talent is amazing, beautiful use of colors and layering, we look forward to seeing more at your other exhibits in the future!

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