Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe: Hall of Fame
442 South La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, California 90036
Saturday, March 23 at 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
Ends Apr 27, 2024
Roberts Projects is pleased to present Hall of Fame, a new series of paintings and photographs by Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe celebrating the rich legacy of boxing in his homeland of Ghana. Quaicoe grew up in Ghana’s capital, Accra, surrounded by villages that have long been united in their devotion to local boxing culture—symbolizing a path that could transcend circumstances of systemic poverty. On each canvas, the artist captures the determined gaze of amateur boxers from Bukom, a neighborhood mythologized as the birthplace of featherweight champion Azumah Nelson and welterweight champion Ike Quartey, now home to some of the nation’s most prominent boxing gyms and training facilities. On a recent visit to Accra, Quaicoe absorbed Bukom’s spirit to record the dynamic personas of its aspiring boxers—each immortalized in the anticipated moment of glory. In his 2002 essay “Bukom and the Social History of Boxing in Accra,” African scholar and historian Emmanuel Akyeampong attributes the early-20th century popularity of boxing to the colonial occupation of Ghana by England—an amalgamation of African and British sociopolitics that took the form of sporting culture. What developed was a unique hybrid of boxing that combined the indigenous African tradition of asafo atwele—the Ga term for group fighting—with Western-style boxing and global commercial enterprise. In Accra’s present urban landscape there is a prize fighter blossoming in every local amateur, and this is precisely what Quaicoe aims to capture. When embarking on this series, Quaicoe began by photographing each boxer dressed in their chosen uniform: gloves, headgear and branded athletic attire. While the artist knew many of his sitters personally, he paused for a shared moment of silence after they assumed their pose—creating space for the enigmatic expressions that emerge when revealing, rather than explaining, who we are. Quaicoe starts every painting with the subject’s eyes for this reason, expanding a meditative moment into an intimate depiction of their nuanced and steadfast countenance. Allowing the composition’s narrative to remain fluid, Quaicoe paints the background of his portraits last, using gestural strokes to distinguish his subjects’ centrality within a limitless vision of their destiny. In absorbing the neighborhood’s fantasies of hard-won greatness, Quaicoe recognized his own experiences in the eyes of its inhabitants. Putting himself in the position of his subjects, the artist poetically articulates the conflicting pressures to perform masculinity and navigate antiBlackness while simultaneously embodying strength and tempering excitement. By championing them on a world stage of his own making, Quaicoe represents Accra's vast metropolitan community through their dreams of victory and triumphing over all obstacles. Following Quaicoe’s previous series, these works utilize contrasting monochromatic and polychromatic palettes; skin tones are rendered in grayscale and laced with wispy, coiling lines alongside vibrant details like shiny red gloves and bright yellow backdrops. This exhibition marks the first time that the artist has presented his photographic studies, which are printed in black and white. This archival filter transforms both pigment and print, adorning his modern portraits with a historic grandeur. In this presentation, Quaicoe proposes a prophetic Hall of Fame that suggests the boxers he portrays need not wait for their time in the sun—they radiate with brilliance from within. About the Artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe (b.1988, Accra, Ghana; based in Portland, OR) was born in Greater Accra Region, Ghana. He attended the Ghanatta College of Art & Design for Fine Art with a focus on painting. His work is in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL and the Fogg Museum at Harvard, Cambridge, MA. Recent solo exhibitions include Otis Quaicoe: (s)kin deep, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR; BLACK RODEO: Cowboys of the 21st Century, Almine Rech, Brussels, Belgium; Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe: 2021 Artist in Residence, Rubell Museum, Miami, Florida, and ONE BUT TWO (Haadzii), Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, CA. Select group exhibitions include Accra! The Rise of a Global Art Community, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; When We See Us, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa; Outriders: Legacy of the Black Cowboy, Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM; Black American Portraits, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; BLACK BODIES, WHITE SPACES: INVISIBILITY & HYPERVISIBILITY, Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas, TX; Ontology, Ross & Kramer, New York, NY; The Show Will Go On, Nassima Landau, Tel Aviv, Israel; Life in Flowers, Luce Gallery, Turin, Italy and Salon de Peinture, Almine Rech, New York, NY, among others. For additional information regarding Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, please visit robertsprojectsla.com or contact Mary Skarbek, Senior Director at 1.323.549.0223 and mary@robertsprojectsla.com PRESS INQUIRIES For press inquiries, please reach out to the team at ALMA.
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