Bright Ackwerh's 'Abonsam Cartoons' Find Artistic Humor In Society
Art is a creative and vivid way to make people think and reflect on society. Many artists have done this in a style which can be considered their own. Artists such as Andy Warhol used their art as a vessel to comment on popular culture and the mass productive era of his time. He used his screen printing style and colour to reflect the life of his subjects and society's influence on their life and death. His work was a parody of human obsession and perception. Warhol as an individual is vastly different from Bright Tetteh Ackwerh, a Ghanaian painter, illustrator, and street artist. But their works have similarities in their core ability to depict famous figures and create a piece of art that sends a strong and sometimes controversial message to the viewer.
Bright Ackwerh is a bold and diverse contemporary artist who creates digitally and through traditional mediums. His work ranges from fluid sketches generating tone and highlights through cross-hatching and the use of lines to his satirical caricature paintings which have the depth of social commentary beneath the surface level of humor and animation which is prevalent in his works. His curiosity influences him to create art that directly questions the status quo of politics all over the world, especially in the continent of Africa. His work depicting pop culture figures also asks difficult questions, forcing viewers to engage with ideas many people would rather overlook. He presents these ideas in a manner that even people who are against his point of view are drawn to see his point of view. The art of Bright Ackwerh is necessary in today’s day and age. In a time when corruption and social injustices happen on a daily basis. Ackwerh exclaims the issues of modern society with the strokes of his brush, exaggerating the perceptions most people have on the popular figures he depicts.
Ackwerh is an artistic intellect that uses the abundant mass of information in the modern era to free himself from the systems of control through his art. The social concepts he questions also involve religion, Pan-Africanism, and race relations. His love for art stems from a very young age but his personal growth and natural learning process impacted his art heavily. His immediate space, research through books and conversation are the muses for his brilliant work. Ackwerh understands the power of art and how it can be a tool of change or simply challenging people and their points of view, he is quoted as saying “Art for me has always been a weapon, that is what I have come to learn”. Ackwerh refers to his caricature pieces as ‘Abonsam Cartoons’, in reference to a malevolent spirit in the gold coast region of West Africa and Ghana. The story of Abonsam is one of defiance and questioning of a higher authority, which is what is prevalent in Ackwerh’s work.
The time in which he discovered his excellence in this form of art was in a difficult period in his life. A time in which he felt unfulfilled in his studies and bored with his routine, creating Abonsam cartoons was an outlet to express his political thoughts and combined his knowledge with his love for art.
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