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Kwesi Botchway

There’s More Than What the Eye Witnesses

May 13June 24, 2023

Gallery I

This image illustrates a link to the exhibition titled Kwesi Botchway: There’s More Than What the Eye Witnesses

Press Release

Installation image credit: Jeff McLane

Opening reception: Saturday, May 13, 4 – 6PM

Vielmetter Los Angeles is pleased to announce our first solo exhibition by Ghanaian painter Kwesi Botchway, There’s More Than What the Eye Witnesses. On view from May 13 through June 24, 2023, the solo exhibition marks the artist’s first in the United States.

“It is a Black gaze that shifts the optics of ‘looking at’ to a politics of ‘looking with, through, and alongside another.”

– Tina Campt, “A Black Gaze: Artist Changing How We See”

Kwesi Botchway’s solo exhibition There’s More Than What the Eye Witnesses is an exploration of a Black gaze. His first presentation with Vielmetter Los Angeles, the exhibition consists of eighteen oil and acrylic paintings and an installation of orange wooden framed mirrors sourced from Accra, Ghana. In Botchway’s compositions, the act of seeing becomes a material, geographic, and refracted meditation wherein both figure and audience are bound in a series of echoes, nearing infinity, create a serializing effect of vantage. Each work centers on a domestic scene and a figure, (or figures), whose back frames the canvas and whom we, the audience, encounter as they look into a mirror.  This relationship between plane and proximity, audience and figure, and the matter of sight permeates the works on view in the exhibition.

Of particular interest are Botchway’s figures themselves and the notion of what Tina Campt names as “a Black gaze….a mode of spectatorial mediation that demands particularly active modes of watching, listening, and witnessing”. Botchway’s figures are painted with his signature use of deep black undertones and winding purple brushstrokes which rest atop the skin akin to tattoos, and poppy sclera, appearing in various states of dress, attending to the pleasure of looking upon oneself. In The Night Is Young, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Myself, Obsessed With Yellow Gold, and Self Gaze 1, pleasure is imbued in a pursed smile and crinkle contractions at the edge of eyes and raised curves in the corners of mouths. Figures are adorned with cascading scarlet hair and shimmering gowns; gold teeth and gold watches residing in rooms with vanities skewed with makeup and the ubiquitous, orange-painted wood framed mirrors from markets in Ghana.

Botchway’s scenes are still glimpses into a kinetic moment, confirmation of presence before the instant shifts—to dressing, leaving, laughing, etc.—again. What Botchway’s refracted portraits capture and what his figures attend to is the potential within a Black gaze. A looking that affirms Black being and presence in excess of dominance, a gaze that resides in the multiplicity and complexity of Black life, a gaze that asserts possibility. Botchway’s figures do not merely look back onto the viewer or take an oppositional glance; rather, their domestic scenes and their eyes are positioned via an internal process in which the viewer is acknowledged through the direct gaze framed by a mirror. The structure of each portrait shows the mirror askew or in partial view allowing the canvas to hold a glimpse of an otherwise larger scene and thus a perceived peak rather than an objectifying presentation of someone’s world.

In the paintings We Are In This Together and A Fine Night In A Blue Room, the figure’s gaze and the scene composition hold the prospect of the viewer as an agent in seeing, shifting the notion of the Black subject as an object instead of asserting that these Black people see you too. The engagement here is a haptic one where touch and sensation are imbued in each work and by the particulars of the viewing audience, creating a productive tension—within seeing.

Also on view in the exhibition are mirror-based installations; omnipresent in West Africa but particularly drawn from Botchway’s home country, Ghana, they are presented here as the tactile touchpoint. The stretching of dimensions (Botchway takes us from 2D to 3D) and a rooting—through material, color, and sourcing (Botchway made a trip back to Accra to source these mirrors) —within the Black diasporic site.

The works included in There’s More Than What the Eye Witnesses act as a site for active witnessing—an engagement between figure and viewer as a strategy to hold a critical fabulation of Black life.

Text by Essence Harden, curator and writer based in Los Angeles.

Biography

Kwesi Botchway was born in 1994, in Accra, Ghana — where he continues to live and work. He is the founder of WorldFaze in Accra, a studio and residency space that focuses on supporting young local artists. Kwesi studied art at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra before enrolling at the Academy of Visual Arts in Frankfurt, Germany. Botchway was nominated for the GUBA Awards USA as an Influential Artist in 2019, and has been featured in the NY Times, Financial Times, Flash Art, The Art Newspaper, ArtNews, and Frieze. His paintings are included in such public collections as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, the Vanhaerents Foundation, Belgium, the High Fashion Foundation, New York, the Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. A full-color catalog including a conversation between Kwesi Botchway, and curator Larry Ossei-Mensah will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.

Kwesi Botchway
“Pearls,” 2023
Oil and acrylic on canvas
48" x 35" [HxW] (121.92 x 88.9 cm); 49" x 36" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 91.44 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1006
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1006_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Memento Mori (Self Portrait),” 2023
Oil on canvas
72" x 64" [HxW] (182.88 x 162.56 cm); 73 ³⁄₄" x 65 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (187.32 x 167 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1009
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1009_mementomori(selfportrait)_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Nyongmọ gbeọ ni wọ yeọ (God slaughters and we eat),” 2023
Mirrors, knife, powder and fabric
10' 2" x 11' 3" x 1" [HxWxD] (309.88 x 342.9 x 2.54 cm)
Inventory #BOT1031
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
botchway_1031_nyongmogbeoniwoyeo(godslaughtersandweeat)_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Red Bandana (Musa),” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 91.44 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1018
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1018_hires-(1).jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Iced Cuban Chain Reflect,” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 91.44 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1017
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1017_hires-(2).jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Self Gaze 2,” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 91.44 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1019
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1019_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Obsessed With Yellow Gold,” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 91.44 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1020
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1020_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“A Fine Night In A Blue Room,” 2023
79" x 88" [HxW] (200.66 x 223.52 cm); 81" x 89 ¹⁄₂" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (205.74 x 227.33 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1011
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1011_afinenightinablueroom_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“We Are In This Together,” 2023
Oil on canvas
88" x 79" [HxW] (223.52 x 200.66 cm); 89 ³⁄₄" x 80 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (227.96 x 205.1 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1012
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1012_weareinthistogether_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Young, Gifted, And Black,” 2023
Oil on canvas
88" x 79" [HxW] (223.52 x 200.66 cm); 89 ³⁄₄" x 80 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (227.96 x 205.1 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1013
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated and annotated verso
botchway_1013_younggiftedandblack_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Ready For The Floor,” 2023
Oil and acrylic on canvas
78 ¹⁄₂" x 87" x 1" [HxWxD] (199.39 x 220.98 x 2.54 cm); 80 ¹⁄₂" x 88 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (204.47 x 225.42 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1007
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1007_readyforthefloor_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Myself,” 2023
Oil on canvas
72" x 64" [HxW] (182.88 x 162.56 cm); 73 ³⁄₄" x 65 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (187.32 x 167 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1010
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1010_canttakemyeyesoffmyself_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Self Gaze 1,” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 93.34 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1021
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1021_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Reveling In Joy,” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 93.34 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1022
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
bot1022_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Feeling Good,” 2023
Oil on canvas
48" x 36" [HxW] (121.92 x 91.44 cm); 49" x 36 ³⁄₄" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 93.34 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1023
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
bot1023_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“The Night Is Young,” 2023
Oil and acylic on canvas
70 ¹⁄₂" x 63 ¹⁄₂" x 1" [HxWxD] (179.07 x 161.29 x 2.54 cm); 72 ¹⁄₄" x 65" x 2 ¹⁄₄" [HxWxD] (183.51 x 165.1 x 5.71 cm) Framed
Inventory #BOT1008
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1008_thenightisyoung_framed_hires.jpg
Kwesi Botchway
“Afro Goddess,” 2023
Oil on canvas
Triptych: 49" x 36 ³⁄₄" x 1" [HxWxD] (124.46 x 93.34 x 2.54 cm) each
Inventory #BOT1016
Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles
Photo credit: Jeff McLane
Signed, dated, titled and annotated verso
botchway_1016_afrogoddess_framed_hires.jpg