Kwame Akoto-Bamfo has emerged as winner of the inaugural Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art. His sculpture of a feminine figure titled ‘Lady Pose’ was chosen by the distinguished jury of five to win the GHS 20,000 first prize.
Chair of the jury. Constance Swaniker, celebrated sculptor and Managing Director of Accents & Art, had this to say: ‘It was a really tough decision to arrive at. All the artists submitted really impressive work. Kwame Akoto-Bamfo’s work however was the most outstanding. The world should watch out for him and all the other artists!’
‘Congratulations to my fellow artists. Thank you to the Kuenyehia Prize for such an incredible honour. We appreciate all the efforts at helping the arts in Ghana,’ said the elated thirty-one-year-old Akoto-Bamfo, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) and a Masters in Fine Art, both from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi.
The Kuenyehia Prize’s Pop-Up Gallery at Labone, Accra, was the place to be last Thursday for all art enthusiasts. In attendance were notable personalities representing a cross-section of the art scene in Ghana. They included Mrs Frances Ademola of the Loom Gallery, Prof Ablade Glover of Artists Alliance, celebrated artist Kofi Agorsor, musicians Okyeame Kwame and M.anifest and lecturers of the Faculty of Art, KNUST, Kumasi. It was an eclectic mix of artists and other top professionals with interests in Ghanaian art.
The night, which featured an exhibition of the works of all the ten shortlisted artists, also saw Kelvin Haizel and Isaac Addico coming up as first and second runners-up respectively. Haizel won for his installation titled ‘Eat In Remembrance of Me’ while Addico’s painting titled ‘The Point’ won him third place. They took home GHS 2,500 each.
A member of the International Advisory Board of the Prize and special guest of honour at the event, Mr Gbenga Oyebode, MFR, Managing Partner of Aluko & Oyebode, Chaiman of Access Bank Plc and board member of MTN Nigeria Ltd and Nestle Nigeria Plc, was full of praise for the initiative to reward young Ghanaian artists and the impressive work that was on show. One of the largest collectors of West African art himself, he had glowing words for the artists and was full of optimism for their future prospects.
Founder of the Prize, Mr Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia, in his brief remarks was emphatic that ‘Art is a bread-and-butter issue. The history of Ghana cannot be fully told without the contribution of Ghanaian art and its artists.’ He bemoaned the worrying trend where brilliant artists abandon their careers in art to find more lucrative ways to make a living and called on everybody present and all Ghanaians at large to help create a vibrant art scene for artists to thrive.
Inspired by the most famous art prize in the world – UK’s Turner Prize – the objective of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art is to identify, reward, promote and develop Ghana’s most outstanding artists between the ages of 25 and 40 and to showcase and celebrate excellence in contemporary Ghanaian art. The Kuenyehia Prize is currently limited to paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, carvings and installations.