Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Art: Philip Kwame Apagya

In Africa, a photo studio is the place where dreams come true. for a few pence, ordinary mortals can strike a pose and achieve immortality, have things they haven't got and may never have, be people they are not and may never be, have access to the inaccessible. People start asking for personal portraits that go beyond

the image usually present on identity papers, often the only 'popular portrait' available. this open new roads to the art of photographic portrait, with possibility for the artist to catch special moments in people's existence: people ask for a picture for several reasons, but with the common desire to have a 'funny picture'. in this process, new forms of self-representation become part of a new social identity: this is the framework in which we might consider the work of Philip Kwame Apagya.

Philip Kwame Apagya's formal portraits in front of commissioned painted backgrounds seem to be suspended between realism and a sort of naivety, they are both unreal and hyperealistic: the dreams of African people are put on stage - against scenery which praises consumer society. The subject stands in front of a painted backdrop that portrays everything people dream of having: fake new England country houses showing off some porcelain, VCRs and TVs in bar closets, modern kitchens with well-stocked refrigerators with coke and cheetos... portraits with a quarter / half / full smile, because nobody in Africa is really deceived by make-believe... but for one glorious moment they can have it all. these portraits are highly amusing for us, 'western people', but are also unintentionally disturbing because of the insight they offer into a growing cultural vacuum. This is the dream, and it is empty and materialistic.

Philip Kwame Apagya was born in Sekondi (Ghana) in 1958, after a period of apprenticeship in his father's photo studio (a former crime-scene photographer), he worked as a travelling photographer for a while in the Sassandra region (ivory coast), following the colour revolution in the late 1980s. After having graduated in photojournalism at the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra, he opened then his own studio (studio PK's normal photo studio) in shama (ghana), in 1982. Philip Kwame Apagya is known worldwide, because of his participation in many personal and collective exhibitions. All Text from: http://www.designboom.com/portrait/apagya.html

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