Gideon Appah | Artist Overview

Gideon Appah

b. 1987

Gideon Appah draws on childhood memories and dreams, as well as West African landscapes and popular culture for his dazzling, bold, and jewel-toned paintings. As a child, Appah’s first medium was charcoal, which his grandmother used to cook meals at home. His early works are an ode to his hometown of Accra, the capital of Ghana, and incorporate images associated with daily life such as lottery numbers and other symbols present in the social and economic fabric of the city. Appah’s work investigates his childhood as well as local mythologies, ethereal landscapes, rivers, domestic interiors, and reoccurring figures both imagined and known, such as his grandmother and brother. The artist often paints in tones of royal blue, crimson, dark orange, and white over found and collaged posters, prints, photographs, and film stills, many of these centering on occupations his family members have held within their community such as barber and tailor shops. Mixing photographic images with paint, Appah employs a process of priming the canvas and sketching the composition before transferring prints from paper onto the canvas using a mixture of glue and water. After the canvas dries, he carves out the images, making them visible before applying paint. Most recently, the artist has utilized oil paint, working in a more flattened perspective and using a rich palette to condense impasto brushstrokes. Appah creates dream-like worlds through a fauvist lens, examining personal and homeland histories such as Ghanaian post-colonial cinema, leisure culture, and nightlife, using newspaper clippings from the 1950s through the 80s as source material. He is influenced by portraiture artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Barkley L. Hendricks, Charles White, as well as American painters Bob Thompson and Joseph Yoakum.