We Find What We Seek
Kensu Oteng is pleased to present We Find What We Seek, a group exhibition of four emerging artists from West Africa. For Ben Agbee, James Mishio, Theophilus Tetteh, and Jimas Ametonou, this group presentation is their first in London.
Exhibition Opening Times Open Daily 11am - 7pm Closed 31st May 2021 (Bank Holiday Monday)
Private View 6pm - 8.30pm Thursday 27th May 2021
Anchored in the truisms of the human experience, this exhibition reduces, refines, and redirects our attention back to the reality of our collective being. Simply, this exhibition focuses on the quotidian habits performed universally, condensed into four categories: Work, Family, Leisure, and Entertainment. Each category is a reminder that the essence of our connectivity, simultaneously as individuals within our local communities, and as individuals innate to a wider ecosystem of cultural production, is contained within that which is physical, imbued by the human thought and spirit. Alongside the contemporary artworks will be traditional antiques from across the African continent. Positioned in conjunction with the work of these emerging talents, the traditional antiques act as the binding material between two temporal moments- a literal and symbolic reminder of how the seemingly utilitarian object engages in our daily rituals.
We Find What We Seek, the title of the exhibition, presupposes that no matter which geographical, philosophical, or spiritual planes we transverse, the bonds we create are not formed by proximity but rather commonality. Ben Agbee’s colourful contortions are an ode to the characters which make up our communities; with women, children, and animals as pillars of strength and sustenance. His use of intense colours, applied with delicate precision, coupled with his signature use of symbolism, form complex yet coherent compositions of cultural nuance. This translation of culture onto canvas is recognisable within James Mishio’s portraiture and figurative paintings which capture the “mood of the moment.” His ability to communicate the multitude of human temperaments with a revelatory realism, subjects the viewer to a place of quiet introspection, where the personality of the sitter transmits itself through the richly textured impasto. Theophilus Tetteh’s work combines the dramatic and intimate into transient tales of city life. His figures, which at times stand solo and at other times are accompanied by large crowds, offer an enchanting spontaneity where the subject appears to be captured within the bustling environment and time is momentarily paused. The architectural framework Tetteh employs brings his characters front and centre, as though to accurately make known their particularity; of that which is obvious and hidden. Jimas Ametonou’s meditative compositions abstract the subject from their locality and reposition them into a realm in which their reality is restructured through a universal lens. At once, these subjects participate not at the effect of their environment, but as the source of its creation. As the curator of the show Kensu Oteng suggests,
“Art, as a communicative act, allows one to acquire knowledge of oneself through the lens of another. In this, art takes on a transformative role; by assembling our differences into a unified narrative that offers clarity to the multitudes of our life experiences. This exhibition- through the duties of work, the obligations to our family, the necessity of leisure, and the cathartic release of entertainment- contemplates our collective participation in the forging of our reality.”
A catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
About Ben Agbee Ben Agbee (b.1966) lives and works in Accra, Ghana. After graduating from college in 1989, majoring in Art, Agbee entered the field of Advertising. His passion for communication through a creative medium propelled him within the industry, and at the same time, Agbee began to develop a signature painting style. Earthly textures mix with intense hues of colour, whilst symbols form faint structures of abstract figures. Agbee has participated in numerous international solo and group shows including Arte Fiera (Bologna, 1998) and National Museum of Ghana (Accra, 2010).
About James Mishio James Mishio (b.1997) lives and works in Accra, Ghana. Although Mishio studied Visual Arts during his education- which undoubtedly fed his love for the arts- he is entirely self-taught. He extensively experimented, and after producing figurative work, landscape paintings, and abstractions, Mishio found a centripetal force in his own style of portraiture in which faces of members within his community are enlarged and reproduced with great intimacy. With solo and group exhibitions in Ghana, Mishio has been a key member of Ghana’s growing artistic infrastructure.
About Theophilus Tetteh Theophilus Tetteh (b.1991) lives and works in Accra, Ghana. He studied Graphic Design and Painting at Marimus Art School, whilst continuing to experiment with different media. Tetteh’s practice synthesises the mechanics of the man-made environment with the natural order of the world. His figures which appear static and singular, are in fact dynamic entities of the local culture. Tetteh has participated in solo shows and group projects across Ghana, notably the Kente Design Project for Kejetia Market (Kumasi, 2017) and National Theatre of Ghana (Accra, 2018).
About Jimas Ametonou Jimas Ametonou (b.1993) lives and work in Cotonou, Benin. Entirely self-taught, his intuitive artistic precision, coupled with his academic studies in Linguistics at the University of Abomey Calavi, provided an intellectual grounding evident throughout his own visual language. Ametonou’s refined compositions have a sweeping gracefulness that feels both temporary and permanent. Despite the timelessness of his paintings, his subjects appear to be strongly fixed at the centre of their universe, absorbed in their reality. Ametonou’s technical strength continues to grow and be noticed, recently seeing him announced as a finalist of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art 2020.
About Kensu Oteng Kensu Oteng is an independent curator and dealer of African art and antiques. His background in Archaeology reinforced his love of history, particularly how past human activity influences society today. This commitment to the dissemination of ideas led him to connect with contemporary artists, whose public outreach has been limited. As his first solo curatorial project, Kensu Oteng provides the public with a contextual framework to explore and engage artist works, with nuance and transparency.