Solo Exhibition by Yaw Owusu l Efie Gallery, Dubai

Artist Yaw Owusu uses an approach rooted in a sense of playful alchemy that embraces the dynamics of currency, symbolism and meaning. He is a visual artist who creates sculptural installations that repurpose found objects, shifting otherwise – worthless materials into encounters of value, and things of other realities. Owusu has developed unique methods of oxidizing copper pennies into varied colors, making them major components of his artworks. Due to inflation, the copper used to make a single penny now costs more than one cent, yet production goes on. And these striking assemblages demonstrate how thoughtful, creative endeavor can transform the most valueless things into wondrous ones. Owusu was the recipient of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art in 2018.

Shining with intricate metallic elements for which the artist is known, Owusu’s new body of work takes influence from the immersion into UAE culture carried out during his residency. This included time spent with the Emirati community and with local artists such as sculptor Dr Mohamed Yousif, as well as research at cultural institutions such as Sharjah Art Museum, Al Shindagha Museum, Etihad Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Zayed Mosque, in collaboration with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, The Africa Institute and Mid East Art.   

The new works see Owusu develop his ongoing exploration of coins. By incorporating fils – the Emirati dirham – and US pennies into his signature use of the Ghanaian pesewa, the artist continues to provoke conversation around the shifting and transient nature of value across different economic and cultural contexts.   

Works like Power of Imagination, Golden Hour, To Believe, Something from Nothing and Infinity are vibrant, colourful, reflective pieces inspired by the artist’s initial perception of Dubai as a land of abundance, wealth, possibility and futuristic architecture. Going with the Wind, Singing Dunes, In the Cool of Day and Morning Sun reflect the artist’s experiences in Dubai of the desert and of local culture, history and ways of life. The exhibition’s large-scale central piece, Heart of Place, sheds light on the distinctive natures and qualities of the Emirates and embodies the artist’s ability to transform otherwise worthless objects into striking works of value.   

The Solo Exhibition by Ghanaian artist Yaw Owusu 'In the Cool of the Day' is currently on display at Efie Gallery, the Dubai-based contemporary art gallery specialising in artists of African origin till the 20th December 2022. Curated by London-based art advisor and curator Kami Gahiga, the exhibition displays ten new works developed during the artist’s residency with Efie Gallery in Dubai this June.   

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21st October, 2022 Visual Art | Paintings