By Nii B. Andrews.

Over the last several years, the international art scene has seen striking figurative portraits from Ghana.

These portraits have earned the artists high international recognition and brought the country into the limelight for contemporary African art.

The artists include Jeremiah Quarshie, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Kwesi Botchway and Amoako Boafo.

EFUA NYARKOA, Bernard Acheampong, acrylic on canvas, 2020.

A feature of the portraits is that they almost always incorporated distinctive accessorial elements perhaps referencing from the art canon, Jan Vermeer’s iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring.

We can thus place in context the recent bold artistic renderings of 50 student artists from the Fine Art Department of the University of Education, Winneba when asked to portray a Woman of Excellence as part of the African Youth of Excellence Award.

Under the leadership of their distinguished lecturer,  Dr. Theophilus Kwesi Mensah, the student artists were given 2 images to work with. 

The first was that of Efua Nyarkoa, a lady from the ancient town of Anomabo in Ghana; the second was of the iconic freedom fighter Winnie Mandela.

WINNIE MANDELA: Isaac Nii Aryeetey, mixed media – buttons, plywood, cloth, 2020.

The stylistic vocabulary of the artists is far ranging and they also chose to work in various media.

Some of the portraits were done with beads, veneer, textiles, acrylics, enamel and oil – thus indicating their grasp of the cultural traditions while at the same time opening themselves up to the challenges of modernity.

The styles ranged from hyperrealism to abstract expressionist renderings; again signalling their ease with an eclectic approach which is a hallmark of the enlightenment we have come to expect from high quality tertiary education. 

EFUA NYARKOA, Florence Sottie, mixed media – beads, plywood; 2020.

The sum total is a magnificent efflorescence of artistic talent, acumen and vision that needs to be nurtured, promoted and harnessed as a vital national resource in order to promote Ghana, Africa and indeed the world’s cohesion and progress.

An exhibition comprising the 50 portraits of Efua Nyarkoa and Winnie Mandela will be launched at Afadzato, the highest mountain on the border of Ghana and Togo; the exhibition will run from 24 December 2020 until 2 January 2021. 

The objective is to assist in promoting Transformational Leadership among women and youth in Africa and to draw attention to areas of armed conflict in Africa while encouraging the search for lasting solutions to these conflicts.


  1. The family of Stompie Seipei, the 14 year old boy tortured to death by her thugs, might challenge the description of the late Mrs Mandela as a woman of excellence, don’t you think?

    Good art, though…

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