By Nii B. Andrews.
While enroute to a wedding, I spent an hour alone at the Nubuke Foundation this last rainy Saturday morning; and I danced.
Yes, the solo exhibition by Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway entitled MAKE WE DANCE, is that good.
The visit provided a tremendously welcome brief respite from the manifold tumultuous mental and physical assaults associated with daily living in contemporary ghana.
The art on display animated the austere concrete landmark cavern that forms the exhibition space at the innovative Nubuke Foundation.
Taking her cue from detailed in person anthropological observations conducted in Accra where she lives and works, Lamptey-Botchway has executed multimedia pieces on canvas that explore and interpret dance movements in a lyrical and sophisticated manner.
Her use of foreground figurative forms – now so ubiquitous in CAA, goes beyond the clichéd pretentious orthodoxy.
These figures appear to be moving, they are going somewhere, doing things while transmitting /communicating something important and urgent.
The pieces are exuberant compositions of flailing and intertwined limbs, arching taut torsos, elegant hairstyles on preening necks and visages locked in concentration while still appearing filled with hope and expectation.
Strategically placed specks of silver dust on the paintings also provide a unique aesthetic and allegorical boost; these figures are stars emitting stardust, the raw material of life.
What is intriguing is her use of mopping wool to fill in/ out or adorn the human shapes executed in acrylic.
The wool which is factory made and store bought is an emphatic reference to hard labor or manual work for which women are the predominant purveyors in our societies.
Lest we forget; dance demands physical ability and endurance, mental tenacity, artistic prowess, subtelty and nuance.
To dance gracefully is hard work and when the patriarchy calls/ requests/ demands / beckons you had better be good at it so as to continously engage and sustain their interest.
Unfortunately, quite often a woman’s economic survival may well hinge on this even as she performs in a dual role as de novo choreographer and participant.
And that is why I was moved to dance all alone – inspired by the art and elated as I took my on beat rhythm from the filigree shapes in the yellow or blue or sage backgrounds of the massive paintings.
Lamptey-Botchway very clearly needs to be taken seriously and reckoned with as an important versatile contemporary artist with an authentic voice and solid technique.
She is the current 2021-2022 Young Ghanaian Fellow (YGA) artist in residence at the Nubuke Foundation.
The YGA programme is a flagship project of the Foundation and “is a career development initiative designed to guide, mentor and train young artists to become confident and savvy within their field and to prepare them adequately for full time practice”.
This excellent exhibition ends on August 31st.