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The Essence of African Art: Lord Ohene Kumah

Lord Ohene Kumah

In this edition of our “The Essence of African Art” Interview Series in partnership with Afrikart.Ghana, we speak to Amsterdam-based Ghanaian portraiture, figurative, and life painter, Lord Ohene Kumah who creates bold stunning portraits which make use of beads and stones in depicting the beauty of African culture in relation to creation and humanity.

Lord Ohene Kumah is an Amsterdam-based Ghanaian portraiture, figurative, and life painter born in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, West Africa. He lived in Accra and later moved to Amsterdam to pursue his art career. Like many other Ghanaian artists, Ohene is a product of the Ghanatta College of Art and Design. He holds a Diploma in Fine Art. He is a self-taught art director which landed him a career in art directing and prop making in the Ghanaian movie industry for two years (2012-2014). 
Ohene has worked tirelessly to master his craft. Combining figurative and portraiture skills and techniques, Ohene has developed his own unique style of bold stunning portraits making use of beads and stones which has made his work easily identifiable.

Could you start by telling us about yourself?

I am Lord Ohene Kumah, I was born in Ashanti Region – Ghana West Africa. I lived grew up in Accra and later traveled to Amsterdam, Netherlands where I’m pursuing my art career.

How did your journey in art begin and at which point did you decide to take it seriously?

I pursued Fine Art at Ghanatta College of Art and Design 2010 and later diverted to art directing and props making in the Ghanaian movie industry from 2012- 2014 before moving to Europe (the Netherlands- Amsterdam). My travel and stay here in Amsterdam influenced my decision to take a more professional approach with my craft. 

How has your roots or upbringing influenced your art?

My upbringing has really influenced my art in the sense of motivating me to achieve my goals so I can be a form of inspiration to other young and upcoming artist with humble beginnings.

How does your faith affect your art? 

Well, there is no creation without a creator and as God is the creator so are we his creation in this world. I believe I am 100% god to the creations I make. So I take inspiration from God since he is the master creator to create my works.  

What keeps you inspired?

I am always inspired by my background how far I have come and flashbacks of my difficult times push me to work hard to go much farther. 

Does art give you a sense of purpose?

Yes, it does, I give out what I have by offering workshops for children and the old people who are sick and depress in my neighborhood. And that really helps them in so many ways so far as I know. And I feel very pleased by shearing my Skills to people through letting them have a sniff of what I do. 

Who are some of the artists you look up to first in Africa, and beyond?

I look up to almost all artists even though there are more Advance African Artist but I believe everyone has their qualities. 

What makes your art unique and how has the uniqueness helped your career?

I have developed a style of painting beads depicting the beauty of African culture in relation to humans (Stone & Dust meaning, as dust is to humans so is stone to beads). My art talks about the creation of mankind from the dust and beads are also made from stones. So this gave me the insight to create art relating dust and stone to form a beautiful combination of masking beads on human faces. 

“Blind Warrior” by Lord Ohene (2020) [Stones on dust bead series]
“Dreamer” by Lord Ohene (2020) [Stones on dust bead series]
“Beautiful Halos” by (2020) [Stones on dust bead series]

Do you have any major interest outside art or painting?

Yes, I do, photography and set designing. 

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing artists from the continent?

Simply, art collectors and museums should promote and buy from living artists, not dead ones. 

What challenges, in particular, have you faced?

The challenges I have had are with art galleries in terms of their art sale. Also here in Europe, most people are not used to my style of painting and don’t understand my works thus it’s going to take time for them to appreciate what I do. 

What is your vision for change in the creative industry and how do you want to be part of that?

My vision is for artists is to come together and do more art fairs and invite art dealers, collectors, buyers and art lovers to participate. 

What is the biggest tip you have for anyone wanting to start a career in his industry?

Always stick to your style and master it. 

Lastly, are you currently working on any new project? What is next for you?

Yes, I am almost done with my “Stones on Dust” series, and I am about to do my first solo show dubbed “Stones on Dust: The Beads Series” early next year. I am also working on another series tagged “Spirit Soul & Body” series by the close of next year (2021).

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