Taking inspiration from strangers he meets on the street, encounters on social media or from friends and colleagues, Ghanian artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe paints bright and luminous portraits of black men and women.
Celebrating African heritage, his latest paintings, Black Like Me, are to go on show at Roberts Projects in Culver City from 11 January, which the gallery says stand as “visual testaments to the resilience, power and strength inherent in African culture, as articulated by the artist”.
A common theme throughout Otis’s work is colour and how it depicts his subjects. “These are images of empowerment and redemption, sophistication and humility, curiosity and quietude,” adds the Gallery. “Each figure becomes a symbol of the reclamation of cultural dignity, embracing the idea of origin and personal narrative as it relates to gender and race dynamics. That they are posed in classically derived poses only serves to reinforce the artist constructed narrative.”
As Quaicoe explains: “Colour means a great deal where I come from. It’s a distinguishing quality – the very means of self-expression.” Indeed, the colours reflect the subject’s state of mind and suggest a more complicated and celebrated relationship to the world around them.
Using bright oranges, Yves Klein blues, lurid yellows and cherry reds, Otis aims to capture the essence of each of his subjects, including their sense of style and fashion.
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe was born in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana. He attended the Ghanatta College of Art and Design for Fine Art with a focus on painting. He currently resides in Gresham, Oregon.
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe: Black Like Me runs from 11 January until 7 March at Roberts Projects gallery in Culver City, California.
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe The Artist II. Kewsi Botchway, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe Portrait of Albert Sowah Anan, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe Orange Turtleneck, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California