Yaw Obuobi - Threads of Art

14 July - 13 August 2016

The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) is pleased to present Threads of Art, a solo exhibition of new and recent works by the acclaimed Ghanaian-born UK based artist, Emmanuel 'Yaw' Obuobi.  Having previously worked with watercolour and acrylic, Yaw developed his creative process and selected his unique medium of choice - yarn. Inspired by "Kente" (which originates from the Ashanti people of Ghana), a cloth made from silk and cotton fabric that is interwoven to create various patterns. Yaw Obuobi has used "strands of wool" to develop his own technique, "yarn painting" - an engagingly innovative art form. This exhibition highlights his explorations of: culture, memory, beauty, humanity and the hybridity of identity - actualised through his own transatlantic voyages.


For the past four decades Yaw has cultivated and nurtured the art of yarn painting. His technique has lead him to create artworks that give the illusion of brush strokes, but it is only by truly getting "up close" that one realises the detail and Yaw's exceptional talent. "I connected the threads of Kente to transform the use of yarn as a form of expression, passing on a heritage of a proud people to a form of painting in place of watercolor, acrylics and oils in a flirtation that links cultures and worlds," says Yaw. By using coloured yarns, playing with texture, weaving, interlocking and layering to 'paint', Yaw produces exquisite pieces with depth, fluidity, texture, realism and character.


Yaw Obuobi's unique art technique has helped him to break molds. While preserving and maintaining his cultural heritage, he acknowledges how his identity has been shaped through his travels from Ghana to Canada and the United Kingdom. His works hold the layered narratives of pan-Africanism, Blackness, cultural performativity and diasporic hybridisation. Like the "strands of wool", they weave a narrative of the void that is created when worlds of migration, identity and culture collide.  Yaw intimates it best: "The threads of our life's script weave through the years forming exciting patterns which connect the past, present and future. The main focus of ones life and the surrounding backdrop are constantly evolving. Our individual perception of the world is dependent on our life's themes which consist of sub themes woven together with our life's script thread." 



'Threads of Art' serves as a cultural archive, offering a visual display of socially charged issues at the intersection of: identity, migration, home and belonging.  It is a look at his personal expression of time, space, race and gender.