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Gideon Appah Biography

Ghanaian contemporary artist Gideon Appah creates vivid, deep-coloured paintings drawn from dreams, childhood memories and his experiences growing up in the West African landscape of Ghana. An amalgamation of real and imagined imagery grants a mysterious atmosphere to the work; the landscapes in his paintings depict transcendent scenes that are at once familiar and unknown.

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Gideon Appah lives and works in Accra, Ghana.

Early Years and Education

Gideon Appah was born in 1987 in Accra, Ghana. As a young boy, he began making art using charcoal after discovering the material when his grandmother used it to cook meals at home.

Appah studied Painting at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, graduating in 2012. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Appah continued to paint and showed work in a number of exhibitions in Ghana.

Following his graduate end of year show at the KNUST Museum in Kumasi in 2012, Appah went on to exhibit work in his first solo exhibition at the Goethe Institut in Accra in 2013.

Style and Subject Matter

Appah's practice crosses a range of styles, themes and media. He often references different printed materials including photographs, film stills, newspaper clippings and collaged posters, sometimes using them as a base for his paintings.

Appah often begins his paintings by mixing printed material with paint. He applies primer to the canvas and sketches different compositions before using printing techniques to transfer various imagery onto the work with glue and water. Once dry, Appah outlines the images by carving into the canvas, which he applies layers of paint to. Unearthing deeply textured markings, Appah's technique recently saw him adopt impasto brushstrokes with oil paint.

Appah's practice is led by intuition and a desire to visualise his inner self to the outer world. He is interested in exploring the different boundaries of composition, form, scale and colour.

Colour plays a crucial role in Appah's oeuvre. He is recognised for his majestic palette of deep blues, crimson reds and fiery oranges. Appah's considered application of colour demonstrates the power of light and shadow in his works. Using vivid hues, Appah masterfully illuminates and obscures his subjects.

Appah's subject matter revolves around the figure and ethereal landscapes. He depicts figures, often semi-nude, that represent an amalgamation of characters from Ghanaian films, his friends and his family. Rendering mythological symbols throughout his compositions, Appah is interested in capturing spiritual scenes that celebrate the artist's personal history and culture.

Gideon Appah's Artworks

Early Works

Appah's early works draw inspiration from his interest in childhood, family and memory. In the series 'Memoirs Through Pokua's Window' (2018), Appah creates dream-like compositions depicting domestic interiors and landscapes. Recalling local mythologies and familiar faces such as his grandmother and brother, Appah recreates his experience growing up in Ghana in the 1980s and 1990s.

Nudes and Semi-Nudes

Appah's nude and semi-nude works consider different expressions of the human figure and explore the beauty of body language.

In Appah's latest series 'How to Say Sorry in a Thousand Lights' (2021–22), he portrays nude and semi-nude figures in otherworldly landscapes. The artist's colour palette transports each landscape from something familiar into a magical world embellished with fantastical detail. Specks of jewel-toned paint dance on the surface Appah's figures rest on, while expansive flat planes of colour cloak the horizon, rendering a theatrical world distinctly different from our own.

Awards and Accolades

Appah is the recipient of several awards. In 2015, he became the first international artist to win the 1st Merit Prize Award at the Barclays L'Atelier Art Competition in Johannesburg. In the same year, he was selected as one of the top ten finalists for the Kuenyehia Art Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Arts.

Appah's work is featured in the public collections of galleries and institutions internationally. Selected collections include the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Absa Museum in Johannesburg and the Musée d'Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden in Marrakesh.


Gideon Appah has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Selected solo exhibitions include: How to Say Sorry in a Thousand Lights, Pace Gallery, London (2023); Gideon Appah: More Luck, Mitchell Innes and Nash, New York (2022); Gideon Appah: Forgotten Nudes, Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (2022); Blue Boys Blues, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York (2020); Love Letters, Gallery 1957, Accra (2019); Memoirs Through Pokua's Window, 1-54 Art Fair, New York (2018); Between a life and its dream, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg (2017); In Pokua's Place, Nubuke Foundation, Accra (2017–18); Sensation, Goethe Institut, Accra (2013).

Selected group exhibitions include: Unlimited, Gallery 1957, Accra (2022); A Nubian Landscape, part of 23rd International Exhibition at Triennale di Milano, Milan (2022); West African Renaissance, Gallery 1957, in collaboration with Christie's, Dubai (2021); The Interior, Venus Over Manhattan, New York (2021); Sites of Memory, UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles (2021); South Facing South (Ghanaman x Quisqueya), Gallery 1957, London (2021); Fraccionar, Estancia FEMSA-Casa Estudio Luis Barragán, Mexico City (2019); Orderly/Disorderly, Ghana Science Museum, Accra (2017); African Perspectives, Lars Kristian Bode Projects, Berlin (2017).


Gideon Appah's Instagram can be found here.

Phoebe Bradford | Ocula | 2023

Gideon Appah
featured artworks

Nudes on the Coast by Gideon Appah contemporary artwork painting
Gideon Appah Nudes on the Coast, 2024 Oil and acrylic on canvas
120 x 100 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
White Mountain by Gideon Appah contemporary artwork painting
Gideon Appah White Mountain, 2023 Oil on canvas
200 x 150 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
Starlite by Gideon Appah contemporary artwork painting
Gideon Appah Starlite, 2023 Oil on canvas
80 x 60 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability
The Balcony - Red Picture by Gideon Appah contemporary artwork painting
Gideon Appah The Balcony - Red Picture, 2023 Oil on canvas
240 x 300 cm
Pace Gallery Request Price & Availability

Gideon Appah
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