Gideon Appah
Gideon Appah, Melody, 2020 © courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash and the artist

Ghanian Painter Gideon Appah Represented by Pace Gallery

The artist will have his first solo exhibition with the gallery in London in 2023

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.

Portrait of Gideon Appah
Portrait of Gideon Appah © Michael Lokko, courtesy Pace Gallery

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.

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.

“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.”

Marc Glimcher, President and CEO of Pace Gallery

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.

Gideon Appah (b. 1987, Accra, Ghana) creates figurative paintings, drawings, and mixed media works with subjects and imagery drawn from his memory and imagination as well as Ghanaian history and popular culture. Appah began his artistic training at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana, initially taking up watercolour to explore and deepen his understanding of the power of colour. He cites contemporaries like Yinka Shonibare, Chris Ofili, El Anatsui, and Julie Mehretu as sources of great inspiration for his practice. In 2022, the artist presented his first institutional solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. His work—which has been featured in the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York, the 23rd International Exhibition at the Triennale di Milano in Italy, and other major international exhibitions—can be found in the collections of the Absa Museum, Johannesburg; the Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden, Marrakesh; and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Appah was shortlisted for the 2016 Kuenyehia Art Prize and the 2022 Henrike Grohs Art Award. The artist lives and works in Accra, he is a member of the blaxTARLINES collective.

Pace is a leading international art gallery representing some of the most influential contemporary artists and estates from the past century, holding decades-long relationships with Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Barbara Hepworth, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko. Pace enjoys a unique U.S. heritage spanning East and West coasts through its early support of artists central to the Abstract Expressionist and Light and Space movements.

Since its founding by Arne Glimcher in 1960, Pace has developed a distinguished legacy as an artist-first gallery that mounts seminal historical and contemporary exhibitions. Under the current leadership of President and CEO Marc Glimcher, Pace continues to support its artists and share their visionary work with audiences worldwide by remaining at the forefront of innovation. Now in its seventh decade, the gallery advances its mission through a robust global program—comprising exhibitions, artist projects, public installations, institutional collaborations, performances, and interdisciplinary projects. Pace has a legacy in art bookmaking and has published over five hundred titles in close collaboration with artists, with a focus on original scholarship and on introducing new voices to the art historical canon.

The gallery has also spearheaded explorations into the intersection of art and technology through its new business models, exhibition interpretation tools, and representation of artists cultivating advanced studio practices. Pace’s presence in Silicon Valley since 2016 has bolstered its longstanding support of experimental practices and digital artmaking. As part of its commitment to innovative, technologically engaged artists within and beyond its program, Pace launched its own dedicated NFT platform, Pace Verso, in November 2021. The gallery’s past NFT projects have spotlighted digital works by Glenn Kaino, DRIFT, Lucas Samaras, Simon Denny, Urs Fischer, John Gerrard, and other artists.

Today, Pace has nine locations worldwide including London, Geneva, a strong foothold in Palo Alto, and two galleries in New York—its headquarters at 540 West 25th Street, which welcomed almost 120,000 visitors and programmed 20 shows in its first six months, and an adjacent 8,000 sq. ft. exhibition space at 510 West 25th Street. Pace was one of the first international galleries to establish outposts in Asia, where it operates permanent gallery spaces in Hong Kong and Seoul, as well as an office and viewing room in Beijing. In 2020, Pace opened temporary exhibition spaces in East Hampton and Palm Beach, with continued programming on a seasonal basis.

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