Cornelius Annor | Artist Overview

Cornelius Annor

b.1990, Ghanaian

Incorporating objects and clothes from different periods of time, Cornelius Annor (b. 1990) plays with history and temporality in his compositions. His paintings can be seen as a hypothetical writing of history, merging elements from both his family and friends’ archive, from the past and present. While some of the photographic source materials were taken during family events, others refer to the West-African tradition of taking seated portraits at a photo studio. The studio setting in this context was created to evoke a certain middle-class status, reminiscent of photographs by renowned Nigerian photographer Samuel Fosso and the Malian photographer Malick Sidibé. While there are noticeable aesthetic similarities, Annor adds a touch of his personal universe, adding in hi-fi equipment, miscellaneous home objects, elaborate wallpapers, vintage sofas, and other pieces of decor throughout. Inspired by the British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s work which utilises traditional wax fabrics, the textiles and their motifs found in Annor's paintings refer both to his West African heritage and personal archive, adding a more intimate overtone. His unique fabric transfer method—in which it is imposed on the canvas for several hours—leaves a faded effect, visually metaphorizing the absence of context from the photographs he uses. Another striking, stylistic element unique to Annor’s work is the disruption of depth and perspective. This is achieved both through his said signature fabric transfer method and the application of collage techniques where reality is distorted in order to tell his story. These collage-based references call to mind Derek Fordjour’s colourful, texture-heavy creations. It was the death of Annor’s father that sparked his personal desire to reconnect with family members on that side. During the preparation of his own wedding, he realised the importance of his family’s archives which now provide an abundance of material for his paintings. Though viewers are unfamiliar with Annor’s subjects, they are engaged in retrieving their own family histories and memories. Annor says about his practice: “For me archiving as an art form has the potential to open up discussions on lost and forgotten histories and its politics. I intend to bring into existence these past histories through my works as a way of creating a room of memory which can migrate my audience to a particular moment in time and reflect on themselves.” Born and based in Accra, Ghana to a family of artists, Cornelius Annor started painting at a very young age, largely influenced by his sculptor father. He completed his studies in fine art at the Ghanatta Art and Design Institute, along with fellow alumni Amoako Boafo, and Otis Quiacoe and Kwesi Botchway, who collectively represent a vanguard of West African artists. Annor established ‘C.Annor studio’ in his hometown, a space dedicated to encouraging and supporting young talents and emerging artists. His work has been extensively exhibited throughout West Africa and in the United States, and recently was acquired by the Norton Museum of Art, Florida and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.