a new decade | derrick boateng at amba gallery

Ghanaian photographer Derrick Ofosu Boateng personifies the joy of adolescence in his hometown by way of capturing its essence through the lens of his iPhone camera. He is heavily inspired by the richness of the African culture, lifestyles and behaviours and has embedded fresh perspectives in his work. His images radiate vibrant colours, and he breathes life into some of the most mundane everyday scenes to emphasise the simple beauty of his home. They are astonishing creations, dramatic portraits in which ordinary people appear to be transported into a colourised dimension. 

As a child, Boateng had always been fascinated by colour. Today, that colour plays a big part in his style. “We Africans communicate with colour in various traditional ways,” he explains. His mother would always wear colourful fabrics to everything, he shares, but the colour itself would determine the occasion. 

Derrick discovered his love for photography at a very young age, but his photographic career only began after his father gifted him an iPhone while he was still studying in school. “The iPhone is my favourite paintbrush, but I’m still experimenting with others,” he says. When editing his photos, he uses a bold colour palette to accentuate his cultural surroundings.

His creative process with photography “can’t really be explained with a few words, but if you understood my mother tongue, I could with an African proverb. I prefer to let the work do the talking,” he says. “I see the visions in my head of the concept, then I understand the traditional message behind it. I only shoot what I see in my head.” In the images, a bright smile washes over the faces of every individual while they hold everyday objects ranging from instruments, fruits, flowers and more. 

Boateng’s first solo exhibition in Accra, A New Decade, opened at the Amba Gallery in Accra, Ghana on the 29th of May and will continue throughout the entire month of June. “I was born in Accra but I’m yet to travel, just waiting for the right time,” says Boateng. “My work has travelled to far more places than I have. I have done a few shows in Europe and Singapore, but this one is my first one in Africa, and I wanted it to be in my home town Accra.” 

The choice of colour range in his upcoming exhibition unties A New Decade and aims to put a halt to stereotypes that border the continent. The Western lens often presents an impaired image of Africa and Ghana specifically, leading many to draw false conclusions about his homeland. This is why Boateng’s new collection is all about capturing beauty in new ways. He does so by shining a multicoloured spotlight on his people to unveil the hidden beauty that resides there — “the overall feeling of new opportunities, defining beauty, tradition, and creativity,” he details. 

All in all, when looking at his new exhibition, he wants to summon the feelings of self-love and respect for one’s heritage in the viewers’ heads. “There are many different messages and feelings in my work. I have some work that makes me want to cry, but I’m not ready to show the world those collections,” he concludes.

A New Decade is available for viewing at the Amba Gallery, located in the Kempinski Hotel Galleria in Accra, Ghana, until 30 June 2021. Discover more on Amba Gallery’s website.

photography. Derrick Ofosu Boateng
curation. Lungi Morrison
words. Ronald Kahihikolo

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