Kofi Agorsor talks about the inspiration behind his latest exhibition ‘Eternal Feeling’.
As a talented painter, sculptor and musician, Ghanaian artist Kofi Agorsor is an impressive man.
Yet, despite his success, he still maintains an enthusiastic love of life and an infectious enthusiasm for the world around him. Humble and thoughtful by nature, here he explains the thinking behind his latest exhibition of paintings, which are exhibited at the brand new Baginskaya Gallery and Studio in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Your exhibition is called ‘Eternal Feeling’. Can you explain why you decided to use the word ‘eternal’ in the context of human relationships?
When choosing the title of the exhibition I was thinking of the dual meaning of the word ‘eternal’. On the one hand, it refers to the relationship between a man and a woman with its full range of emotions: anticipation of a meeting, joy of being together, having butterflies in the stomach, making plans for the future. Love undergoes changes but never ends. In its broader sense, ‘eternal’ is the everlasting happiness that we hardly experience due to the stress of daily life. The message I am trying to convey is to stop worrying and be grateful for the air we breathe, the sun that shines, the rain that refreshes, the beloved ones who fill our days with happiness. This should be an ideal of human existence.
Your paintings have an abstract, surreal quality. Are you heavily influenced by traditional African art and do people ever compare your works to paintings by Matisse or Picasso?
We all have cultural baggage. While some artists reject it, others keep exploring. Traditional African art is part and parcel of me. It unconsciously pours into my work without any premeditation. Few people reference my work to Picasso and Matisse, probably because it feels more natural for an African to dwell on local artistic traditions. Picasso was an innovator who married European and African art. So I may say we have something in common; we refer to the same source. Similar to Matisse, my colour range is intense, which isn’t surprising as in Africa we are surrounded by bright colours.
Your paintings have a sense of animation and movement – is that intentional?
No, it’s not. Being a musician, I capture vibration and rhythm, which influences my artworks. It is unconscious and comes naturally. After all, everything in life is in motion.
You are a successful jazz musician and a sculptor. Do you prefer music to painting or do you love them both equally?
For me art and music are inseparable. The artforms are different types of expression of the same creative spirit. I love them both equally.
Do you agree that your paintings are positive and playful?
Yes, that is absolutely correct. In my artworks I want to share positive emotions, give hope, motivate and inspire. It’s in consonance with the title of the show, ‘Eternal Feeling’.
Do you sketch your paintings first or do you paint free-hand?
When it comes to my very graphic compositions, I do preliminary sketches, but in my abstract paintings I allow emotions and feelings to dictate the flow of the painting.
Where do you create your works?
I have some favourite places; my studio, for example, or the compound. But sometimes I just sit under a tree.
Do you think human relationships can be complicated and if so, is this reflected in your paintings?
Oh yes, human relationships can be very complicated, no matter if they are between friends, colleagues or members of the same family. The tension can happen in any daily activity, due to the difference in opinion, political or religious views, or it can be a struggle for supremacy. As a councillor and keen observer of life I mentally record all these complicities. Later they are then reflected in my works.
Is it true that you named your daughter Totobieto? If so, can you explain the meaning of the word?
Yes, her name is Totobieto, which means the unfolding of life into existence. ‘Totobieto’ is the totality of life, which encompasses light and darkness, positive and negative.
How do you think people will react to your work here in Dubai and do you think it will be different to the reaction that you receive in Africa or Europe?
Generally my works are well-received both at home and abroad. I assume it is because of the global nature of the subject matter. No matter what cultural background you come from, such human emotions as love, happiness, and sorrow are universal. So I have a feeling that my works will be understood in Dubai.
Exhibition: ‘Eternal Feeling’ is on until October 29 at Baginskaya Gallery and Studio, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (050 556 2210).
Artist: Kofi Agorsor
Prices: On request