The human figure is central to Owusu-Ankomah’s widely heralded practice. In his earlier work, which drew heavily on masquerade and African rock paintings, these stylised male figures were more clearly visible, but over time have been integrated into a complex fabric of signs that effectively camouflage the figure. As in the work of Conrad Botes, these signs describe an actual and fictional cosmology that defines and contextualises each of Owusu-Ankomah’s figures. The signs are a mix of adinkra symbols (commonly in Ghanaian textile design), Chinese pictographs, consumer logos and invented symbols. The titular microcron, for instance, refers to circles of shining orbs and signifies “universes inside universes”.1
The idealised form of Owusu-Ankomah’s male figures is important too. The artist is an admirer of Michelangelo; his figures have been described as projecting the “divine energy” of the Italian master.2 This is not hyperbole. Curator Shannon Fitzgerald, commenting on the “exaggerated masculinity” of the artist’s figures, notes: “The physicality alludes to labour, which for Owusu-Ankomah is a high moral construct and a noble activity.”3
1. Press release for exhibition Microcron Begins, October Gallery, 2014: www.octobergallery.co.uk
2. Chris Spring (2008) Angaza Afrika: African Art Now, Cape Town: Francolin Publisher. Page 252.
3. Shannon Fitzgerald (2003) ‘Owusu-Ankomah’, in A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad, St. Louis: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Page 35.
Johans Borman Fine Art, Cape Town, 2015.