Annan Affotey: The Simple Life

Annan Affotey, Quiet Time with Norma, 2023
Annan Affotey, Quiet Time with Norma, 2023

De Buck Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Ghanaian artist Annan Affotey at the gallery’s New York location opening May 2, 2023.

Affotey is known for his intimate portraits of friends, family, acquaintances, and social media influencers who intrigue him. For this new series of paintings, Affotey depicts subjects who are trying to live their lives in a very simple way, says Affotey, “Trying to be themselves in the surroundings that they find themselves in; trying to find comfort in places that they’re in, in the things that make them happy.”

Affotey’s subjects often reveal personal connections to the artist. His works in the show, Quiet Time with Norma, a portrait of a man seated on a couch affectionately holding a small dog, Affotey depicts his friend, Paul, with his dog, Norma. Affotey had met Paul in Milwaukee. Though from Ghana, Paul had never been there and had never met his family there. In 2018, Affotey traveled to Ghana and helped Paul connect with that family, which Paul documented in an emotional series of Instagram posts. Now a good friend, Paul (and his dog Norma) have been the subject of a several of Affotey’s paintings.

As with his portraits of Paul, Affotey’s paintings often examine a story that goes beyond surface level. His paintings are influenced by the cultural diversity that he’s experienced living in Ghana, Europe, and the United States. The combination of these experiences brings a varied narrative to his work, exploring the stories and meanings behind his subjects’ faces and bodies.

Using a photograph of his subject as a starting point, Affotey purposely paints his subjects with deep black complexions, which he has stated is to convey that “Black is Beautiful.” “Even if you have very dark skin, you should appreciate who you are as a person,” he said. This exploration of skin tones began with his “Complexion Series” from 2020 and has been a signature aspect of his work ever since.

Like Quiet Time with Norma, and its companion piece, Play Time with Norma, this series will include portraits of people with pets. Affotey first did a series of such portraits for his 2021 exhibition “A Little Companionship” at The Cabin LA. Affotey is fascinated with the way, in America, pets are domesticated and treated as members of the family, a stark contrast to the way they’re treated in Ghana where dogs are commonly seen roaming the streets.

This exhibition will be Affotey’s first solo exhibition in New York and his second with De Buck Gallery.

Annan Affotey was born in 1985 in Accra, Ghana. He graduated from Ghanatta College of Art and Design in 2007 with a degree in Drawing & Painting. In 2013, Affotey helped found the African Young Artist Organization (AYAO), a group dedicated to supporting African youth in the arts through education and exhibitions.


De Buck Gallery New York


May 2, 2023 - May 31, 2023


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