Foster Sakyiamah (b. 1983, Ghana) is an emerging contemporary artist based in Accra, Ghana. Instantly recognizable for their vibrant color palettes and preponderance of curved linear patterns, Sakyiamah’s paintings are celebrated as exuberant portrayals of the people and culture of Ghana. Sakyiamah’s affinity for patterns comes from his interest in the work of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, and Ghanaian-British Photographer James Barnor who often dressed his subjects in patterned clothes and posed them amid wildly patterned floors and backdrops.
Such a diversity of patterns and forms creates a dynamism in Sakyiamah’s paintings that thrills the eye, and brings his figures to life. Movement is another important aspect of Sakyiamah’s practice. He studied gymnasts in order to understand the mechanics of the human body, and to learn how to capture a sense of motion in his paintings. The content in Sakyiamah’s paintings concerns his inner feelings and attitudes towards his community, his culture, and towards the everyday domestic aspects of his life in Ghana. His portraits convey a psychological attitude or state of mind through the facial expressions of the figures, their fashion styles, and through their body language.
The intense graphic quality of his compositions is an expression of Sakyiamah’s appreciation for popular culture, as well as a reflection of his own interests in the history and principles of design. The energy and dynamism that defines
Sakyiamah’s canvases is heightened by his deft juxtaposition of complementary forces. His precise and hard-edged portrayal of human figures is contrasted with his elegant and lyrical use of gestural lines. His rich and luxurious palette of black and brown flesh tones mingles with a luminous and bright rainbow of background hues.
Finally, the objective sense of reality conveyed by the perfectly rendered human figures is juxtaposed against the symbolic and purely abstract patterns, lines and forms enveloping their world. Most captivating of all perhaps is the exactitude of Sakyiamah’s craft. The graphic flatness that defines his pictures from afar is juxtaposed sublimely with the lush and painterly impasto texture of his painted surfaces when viewed up close.