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Western approaches to Africa's visual culture have until recently separated 'traditional' from 'modern' as if the two categories had no common ground, and as if only the former was authentically African. Yet 'tradition' is also an active process of handing on, one subject to evolution, development and history.
This book explores a burgeoning body of West African artistic production that draws upon photography, advertising, graphic design, European art history and Ghanaian history and culture. As such it constitutes an envisioning of a local modernity centred upon Kumasi, a vibrant trading city at the centre of local, national and international networks, whether historical, economic, political, educational, religious or aesthetic. The art described here, whatever its immediate purpose, reflects and interprets this intense and unique local context. Among the Ghanaian painters discussed are E.V. Asihene, Grace Kwami, E.K.J. Tetteh, Ablade Glover, Ato Delaquis, B. Offei Nyako, Atta Kwami, karî'kachä seid'ou, Bob Acheampong and many others whose practice was college based. Kwami also discusses the art and lives of Kumasi's leading sign painters - King Samino (King Samino Sign Art Services), Alex Amofa (Supreme Art Works), Kwame Akoto (Almighty God Art Works), Isaac Azey Otchere (Azey Alberto Art & Sign Service), and Isumaila Moro (Iss Hi-Tech Prints) - thereby exploring the interrelationship of two entwined traditions, two art worlds of modern painting centered at either the university and/or the signpainter's workshop.