Night Watcher

Gideon Appah, Night Watcher, 2020, oils, acrylics on canvas, 243cm x 183cm. Photography by Nii Odzenma © Gideon Appah, courtesy of Gallery 1957 and the artist


Gideon Appah Joins Pace Gallery

Published Thursday, Sep 15, 2022

Pace is pleased to announce its representation of Gideon Appah, who is known for his dreamlike and enigmatic paintings, drawings, and mixed media works that often explore Ghanaian history and popular culture. Appah will have his debut presentation with Pace next month at Frieze London, where the gallery’s booth will focus on works by artists new to the program. His first solo exhibition with Pace will take place in London in spring 2023. Pace will represent Appah in collaboration with Gallery 1957 and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, where Appah’s second solo exhibition with the gallery opened in New York on September 8.

Born in Accra, where he continues to live and work, Appah interlaces visual fragments from modern-day Ghana with his own imagination in the fantastical figurative scenes that make up his paintings. Drawing from childhood memories, family photographs, dreams, newspapers, comic books, Ghanaian cinema, and other sources, Appah forges idiosyncratic compositions that balance deeply personal, introspective themes with lingering ambiguities.

Replete with allusions to familial, political, and social histories, Appah’s paintings have meditated on religious, mythical, folkloric, and environmental subjects. His paintings have also incorporated imagery from Ghanaian movie stills and clippings from 1960s Ghanaian newspapers to chronicle the evolution of cultural identity on both individual and national levels. The artist’s latest body of work—which was the subject of his first institutional solo exhibition, Forgotten, Nudes, Landscapes, presented at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia earlier this year—focuses on Ghana’s rapid socio-political and cultural transformations from the 1950s to the 1980s, as it became the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence.


Portrait of Gideon Appah © Gideon Appah

At the core of Appah’s practice is a fascination with the intangible. Through his work, the artist strives to communicate emotions that exist beyond the confines of language. For Appah, painting is an intuitive act of translation of the inner self to the exterior world. “It scares me sometimes because I don’t know where that work is coming from,” he has said of his process.

The artist often situates his figures amid abstracted, otherworldly backdrops, imbuing his paintings with ethereal qualities. Making use of flattened perspective and a dark colour palette that is punctured by jewel toned blues, pinks, and yellows, Appah draws viewers into new realms. Stitching together real and imagined memories, fantasies, and everyday experiences, Appah constructs quasi-theatrical compositions open to viewers’ interpretations and subjectivities.

Marc Glimcher, President and CEO of Pace Gallery, says:

“We are thrilled to announce representation of Gideon Appah. This new relationship comes after more than a year of close conversation and time spent watching his incredible practice evolve. For his lyrical paintings, Gideon draws on wide-ranging inspirations, from Ghanian history and popular culture to mythology and folklore to his own memories and dreams. His compositions possess an ineffable, intimate spirituality that beckons viewers into their depths. I am so excited that Pace is now part of the team of galleries behind Gideon.”

Appah’s work is currently on view in the 23rd International Exhibition at the Triennale di Milano in Italy. In addition to his recent presentation at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, the artist has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Goethe Institute, Accra (2013); the Nubuke Foundation, Accra (2017); the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York (2018); Gallery 1957, Accra (2019); Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York (2020, 2022) and elsewhere. His work has figured in group exhibitions at the Ghana Science Museum, Accra (2017); Bode Projects, Hamburg (2018); Casa Estudio Luis Barragán, Mexico City (2019); and other international institutions. Appah is represented in the collections of the Absa Museum, Johannesburg; the Musée d'Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden, Marrakesh; and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

To learn more about Gideon Appah, click here.
  • News — Gideon Appah Joins Pace Gallery, Sep 15, 2022