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Entertainment of Friday, 10 February 2017


Kofi Antubam - A contemporary artist whose memory lives on

Although it is well over 53 years since his demise, the works of renowned contemporary artist, Kofi Antubam, are still housed at the National Museum in Accra.

Antubam, who started modeling human beings and animals in clay from primary one, is credited as the greatest contributor to Ghana’s contemporary art for his ability to infuse the Adinkra symbols into the Ghanaian modern visual art tradition.

The National Museum in Accra, which is the legal custodian of the material cultural heritage of the country, still has some works of Antubam in its gallery although the museum is currently closed for renovation works.

The Head of Collections at the museum, Mr Victor Matey, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on February 1 that works by Kofi Antubam currently at the museum include the parliamentary mace, the state chair and the panel doors of the entrance of the former legislative assembly, among others.

“We currently have the work that came from Switzerland, the relief carving for the Speaker’s parliamentary desk, the chair of state used during the Republic Day celebration which Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah actually sat on on July 1, 1960. We also have the water colour painting covered with glass and two sculptures in which he was trying to depict his children; ‘Kwabena my son and Abena my daughter’,” he said.

Panel doors

The panel doors of the entrance of the former legislative assembly, carved by Antubam, according to Mr Matey, were a donation from the Laing family from Switzerland in 2014.

“The donor is Alfred Laing Jnr on behalf of the family. The artist was contracted to carve and the family felt the best place to harbour it was the museum so they brought it to us,” he said.

The artwork, he said, depicted the traditional kitchen situation where you find the cooking utensils and stools by the fire side. It also depicts a picture of some women preparing fufu.

“In some cases, it depicts the traditional drummers, with the chief dancing in state with a woman spreading cloth for the chief to walk on while dancing. You also see the linguist who was holding the staff applauding the chief with hands raised,” he said.”

He added, “It depicts what happens when a chief is dancing in a traditional setting and the behaviour of the subjects in a happy mood trying to urge him on,” he said.

Relief carving for Speaker’s desk

The relief carving, Mr Matey explained, was brought into the museum in the early 90s.

“It was meant to shed light on chieftaincy in the country, more or less depicting what Parliament also does. In Parliament, they usually make laws to benefit the citizens, in the same way the chief and his subjects also play a similar role on behalf of their people,” he said.

The man Kofi Antubam

Information from the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board said Mr Kofi Antubam was one of the founders of Ghana’s National School of Painting.

He studied at the Art School of Goldsmith College, University of London from 1948 to 1950.

He is among the first generation of contemporary artists who introduced something new into the Ghanaian art. He brought out the aesthetics of the symbols by using them as decorative motifs anytime there was an opportunity.

Sector contribution

Ghana is blessed with dozens of historical monuments and tourist sites which attract many foreigners. Aside from being a significant contributor to economic growth and development in Ghana, tourism is a major source of foreign exchange, employment and government revenues.

Based on statistics from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism sector directly contributed GH¢2.62 billion to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013, equal to three per cent of the total GDP. Again, the WTTC forecasts that the sector will grow by an annual average of 4.5 per cent between 2014 and 2024.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts is mandated to provide a firm, stable policy environment for effective mainstreaming of Ghanaian culture into all aspects of national life and to ensure the emergence of a strong and vibrant creative economy to improve and advance the tourism industry.