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  • Writer's pictureElle Lokko

Jeremiah Quarshie: Yellow is the Colour of Water

Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana19 Aug 2016 - 22 Oct 201

Gallery 1957 presents Yellow is the Colour of Water, a solo exhibition of new works and a multi-site installation from the artist Jeremiah Quarshie, curated by Robin Riskin.

Quarshie’s practice takes its narrative from contemporary life in Ghana, with particular emphasis on the passage of water throughout Accra—as embodied through the yellow “Kufuor” gallons used for storing and carrying it. Born in 1985 in Accra, Quarshie studied fine art at Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.

The exhibition is based out of Gallery 1957 at the Kempinski Hotel, and maps out to a body of site-specific interventions. The gallery segment of the show features new paintings from Quarshie’s Yellow is the Colour of Water series—portraits of beauty queens, businesswomen, and labourers, who sit atop arrangements of these ubiquitous yellow containers amid plain black backdrops.

Quarshie’s intricately detailed portraits are characterised by a unique realism combined with his own distinct visual language. Appropriating from Old Masters’ traditions and aspects of studio photography, his work questions the construction of imagery and the boundaries of portraiture. Quarshie removes this practice from the landscape of the elite, re-positioning it as a medium for raising critical questions about social conditions of the masses. The yellow gallons become both backdrop and throne—paradoxical points of failure and hope.

Quarshie’s exhibition extends beyond the gallery walls, encompassing off-site sculptural works which mark a new direction for the artist. Projects at a local lorry station, a hospital, an airport, and the water company itself, chart critical locations and sites of movement within the Accra landscape. Intervening in architectures of state, corporate, and public institutions, Quarshie re-purposes pipes and hoses as minimalist sculptures, a subtle rupture in the conventional flow of things.

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