By Nii B. Andrews.

An important exhibition comprising paintings, in addition to installation sculptures on the Rwandan genocide – all by the Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji, opened in Abidjan last week; it will run until June 28, 2021 at the La Rotonde des Arts.

Masks remain very prominent in Setordji’s visual language; they are almost always present in his paintings with oblique references to the “sculptural idiom” and cubist influences.

EKWABA CAKE, 121 x 123 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2021.

The sharp angles and geometric shapes in the rendered figures lend a poignant urgency to his compositions.

Perhaps the ubiquitous masks are persisent questions.

 Is life a masquerade? What are the real personalities and motivations of the protagonists? Who can you trust or believe; what is the real picture? 

Of course, in our part of the world, those who (t)/ask relevant questions are considered tiresome.

FOLLOW WIITH EYES OPEN, 120 x 140 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2021.


Because, they force us to think – and that is really hard work especially in hot and humid conditions.

Through his choice of vibrant blues, reds and yellow juxtaposed with earth tones of browns and ochre; Setordji insinuates in his often crowded compositions, that deep thought must be the basis of action in the myriad aspects of our lives.

LADY WITH DESIGNER HANDBAG, 145 x 215 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2021.

We must always endeavor to penetrate the mask….and ASK in order to uncover the stark reality.

It is in this regard, that the arresting installation by the artist from 2000 on the tragic Rwandan genocide is reprised for this exhibition. 

Over twenty years later, the haunting images of deformed facial masks peering at the viewer – some half buried in sand, should serve to remind us of the over the 3 million people dead from COVID-19 even while we debate vaccine sharing arrangements, optimum vaccine rollouts and the rise of new variants; and even as our deliberate and crazy environmental destruction relentlessly continues.

FASHION DESIGNER, 120 x 72 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2021.

How can we forget that today, mass murder and sexual assaults are still being committed unabated and unchallenged in a conflict zone within Africa.

Setordji in this exhibition uses his formidable artistic talents to serve notice that all is not well, even as he bids us AKWAABA in Abidjan.

Hopefully, his message will not fall on deaf ears nor hard hearts.

SHALL WE, 110 x 95 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2021.
RENDEZ – VOUS, 140 x 120 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2020.

**** All illustrations of art work are by kind courtesy of the artist.


  1. Setordji’s message is superb but I am inclined to believe will certainly fall on deaf ears.

    Bless you and stay safe

  2. Beautiful. Awesome.

    Let those who are incapable of any intellectual or creative output consider questions “tiresome” and blame it on the excessive heat and humidity😆; and let the rest of the world ask the questions and express its appreciation for this really stunning output of the artist.

    Really nice work produced in spite of the heat and humidity😆

    I really love this stuff: It is so downright “us” as Africans and not “they” who are from other continents beyond : the combination of the vibrant hues and the cubist tradition (which inspired the piracy of the likes of Picasso) is perfect.

    It is elegant in the way it speaks about our uniqueness and our huge potential .

  3. I must say that I really like this instance of a combination of his work and yours. 🙏🏼

  4. Wow, awesome.

    “Those who ask relevant questions are considered tiresome”….will resonate very well amongst my school mates.

    Very timely. Thanks.

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