Recently, Ghanaian artists have been making a lot of waves on the international front with some very powerful visuals. I’m sure by now you have all become familiar with New York-based Ghanaian artist, Dennis Owusu-Ansah, who has captured the attention of not only social media but one of the world’s largest media platforms, CNN. In a full feature story, CNN described the 26-year-old as a Ghanaian artist whose pop art images are taking Instagram by storm.
While we agree with CNN, we here at threesixtyGh will also like to bring attention to the fact that the visual creations by Denny (as he likes to be called) are more than pop art images. Denny is strategically bringing attention to culture and heritage shared between Africans and African-Americans. He has taken a creative approach to shed light on the elephant in the room.
The unique thing about his visual project is reworking and reimagining some of the world’s biggest celebrities in authentic African clothing and cultural attire, with an aim of also highlighting the beauty of African culture through his work. This technique is what has also helped the artist to go viral. While talking to CNN about what sparked the drawings, Dennis stated; “After witnessing my friend get teased by a group of men for wearing a Kente cloth on our way to church, I figured something must be done to change the perspective of people who are not familiar with the African culture. They had no idea what my friend was wearing. One of the guys shouted, ‘That man has a blanket wrapped around his body like it’s winter time.’ I saw this incident as an opportunity to educate people about who we are, and what we stand for through my art,’’ he told CNN.
Notwithstanding the fact that this incident happened in this day and age, Denny decided to turn what could have potentially been a bad situation into something positive and bring attention to an issue we all know too well. Other things we love about his visuals are the use of bright vibrant colors and intricate patterns that immediately grab your attention. Denny has created visuals of some of the most famous celebrities in today’s pop culture and entertainment including Drake, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and most recently Taraji P. Henson. He has transformed the already powerful celebrities into powerful African icons in traditional attire and with traditional names. Now, what is more, powerful than that!
After that life-changing moment, 26-year-old Owusu-Ansah decided that he wanted his art to tell a story and for his audience to learn, “that Africa isn’t only about what the media portrays on television,” but that it is “a continent rich in history, diversity, and traditions.” Choosing to depict celebrities trending in the entertainment business, Owusu-Ansah knows that they have an influence on their fans.
To this, we say kudos and keep up the great work, Dennis Owusu-Ansah! We look forward to more great work from you in the near future.
More pictures below
Author: Akosua Akyere, threesixtyGh writer