Amoako Boafo Biography

Known for his empowering fingertip paintings, Amoako Boafo is a Ghanaian-born contemporary artist based in Vienna. Among other exploits, Boafo has collaborated with fashion house Dior and launched an artwork into space with Blue Origin and the Uplift Art Program. Boafo made headlines in 2020 when his painting The Lemon Bathing Suit (2019) fetched £675,000 (US $881,550) at auction.

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Early Years

Boafo was born in Accra, Ghana. He studied art at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra before following fellow artist and curator Sunanda Mesquita, now his wife, to Vienna in 2014. There, he completed an MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 2019.

Boafo's work has been compared to that of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, a protégé of Gustav Klimt. Boafo also cites Lynnette Yiadom-Boakye, Jordan Casteel, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Jennifer Packer, Kehinde Wiley, Derek Fordjour, and Kerry James Marshall as influences.

Achieving acclaim in Austria, Boafo was awarded the 2017 Walter Koschatzky Art Prize and the 2019 STRABAG Art Award International. The artist had his first show in the United States at Roberts Projects in 2019, entitled I See Me. He was recommended to the gallery by Kehinde Wiley, who found Boafo on Instagram.

Amoako Boafo Artworks

Amoako Boafo has developed a distinct style, using his fingertips to paint portraits of Black men and women who, he says, 'live their blackness'. His choice of bold colours and patterns celebrates his diaspora subjects.

Black Diaspora Portraits

Following several years in Vienna, where the artist became quickly disillusioned with the city's art scene, which he felt was unreceptive to artists of colour, Boafo began making the seminal 'Black Diaspora' series (2017–ongoing). Pushing back against this challenging atmosphere and common stereotypes, the artist celebrates blackness by painting family, personal acquaintances, and celebrities.

In Amoako Boafo's interview with Culture Type in 2019, the artist explained, 'Most of the characters are people that share the same ideas as me. Others are also people that I find strength in—how they celebrate/live their blackness.' Figures ranging from Maya Angelou—depicted in Red Dress (2017)—to London DJ of Jamaican heritage Tonica Hunter, who has featured in several works, are presented against bright and polished backdrops in poses that project power and confidence.

His subjects are drawn from all walks of life and each figure is depicted in a layered and textured manner. The artist works blue, brown, and red oil paint with his fingers on the canvas, creating simplified forms that come close to abstraction. Boafo has been developing this definitive style, which the artist first entertained for a music video, since 2017.

Rubell Residency

In 2019, the emerging artist was selected to be the first artist-in-residence at the new Rubell Museum in Miami. Amoako Boafo's Rubell residency produced a series of monumental larger-than-life paintings. In these large-scale works, such as Hudson in a Baby Blue Suit (2019) and Self in Gucci Jacket (2019), the artist pays close attention to clothing and fabric, both for their patterns and textures and as signifiers of identity. Monochromatic and simple backgrounds contrast with the highly textured finger-painted figures and colourful patterned clothes.

Amoako Boafo's Art Basel Miami debut in the same year saw a sold-out booth with Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Suborbital Triptych

In 2021, Boafo was commissioned to paint a mural on three exterior panels belonging to Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket as part of the Uplift Art Program. Made with materials that would survive the journey into space and return to earth, the three paintings for 'Suborbital Triptych' included a self-portrait and portraits of his mother and his childhood friend Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe: Self Portrait with Pink Tulips (2021), White and Gold Head Wrap (2021), and Shormeh's Gold Earrings (2021).

Art Market

Amoako Boafo auction sales have reached into the millions. Boafo made headlines in 2020 when The Lemon Bathing Suit (2019) fetched £675,000 (US $881,550) at Phillips' 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London. The price eclipsed the estimate of £30,000–£50,000 (US $38,700–$64,500) by more than ten times. That same year, Baba Diop (2019) sold for a record HKD 8.8 million (US $1 million) at Christie's, superseded the following year by Hands Up (2018) selling for HKD 26.7 million (US $3.4 million) at Christie's.


Amoako Boafo's Instagram can be found here.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2022

Amoako Boafo

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