Last month, artist Amoako Boafo launched dot.ateliers, his highly anticipated artist residency, foundation, and exhibition space in his native home of Accra, Ghana.
For the opening, Boafo arranged a weekend of arts programming and live performances, celebrating Ghana’s artistic talent. In attendance were artists, curators, friends, and a slew of industry heavy hitters, including gallerist Mariane Ibrahim, Bennett and Julie Roberts of Roberts Projects, and Christina Ine-Kimba Boyle, director of online sales at Pace Gallery.
Late Friday evening, Ghanaian American singer-songwriter Moses Sumney serenaded an intimate crowd at Boafo’s private residence. Earlier, at the opening of the exhibition space, stylish and eclectic Ghanaians mingled with international artists and curators. Even the prominent political activist Angela Davis, invited by the poet Aja Monet, joined in the festivities.
Boafo told ARTnews that dot.ateliers is a dream he has wanted to realize for decades, bringing together his passion for community and creative expression.
“I know we are not here forever and there are quite a lot of things I want to achieve,” he said. “My game plan is to bring as many people through the door as possible and build something here that we can manage here. That means the residency, and our writers and curators that understand us and understand our work and can talk about our work in the ways we experience it.”
The three-story building that houses dot.ateliers was designed by award-winning Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, and will include a gallery, studio, cafe, and library. The inaugural cohort of artists invited by Boafo for the residency includes Dzidefo Amegatsey, Crystal Yayra Anthony, M. Florine Démoshthéne, Clotilde Jiménez, and Zandile Tshabalala.
The launch served as a celebration of Ghana’s art scene and positioned it as a major player in contemporary art. Boafo and his team organized daily tours and nightly events showcasing Accra’s top galleries, cultural centers, and creative hubs including the Nubuke Foundation, Gallery1957, Terra Alta studio and performing arts space, and Freedom Skatepark, the first of its kind on the continent, among others.
At 38 years old, Boafo is already the most successful artist Ghana has ever seen, not to mention one of the most prominent global artists of this generation. While much has been made of the dizzying prices of his work at auction — in 2021, a painting of his sold for $3.4 million — Boafo has made considerable investments into Ghana’s growing arts community.
In recent months, Boafo has bought properties in South Labadi, the Accra neighborhood where he lived as a child and where opportunities for artists were once scarce. The goal, he said, is to turn the street where dot.ateliers and his studio are into Accra’s arts district and, to that end, he hopes to open more spaces for artists to gather, teach, and develop their practices
The residency is a response to the pressure many Ghanaian artists have long felt: that in order to be successful, you must leave the country for Europe or the US. After many years abroad, Boafo is redoubling his efforts to create a sustainable ecosystem of galleries, residencies, and institutions that nurtures and provides resources to emerging artistic talent in Ghana.
Derek Fordjour, a Ghanaian American artist, friend, and member of dot.ateliers’ advisory board said that Boafo has led by example in his commitment to building a sustainable arts ecosystem in Ghana.
“I fully expected to attend an event for a singular effort, but what I encountered was so much more,” Fordjour told ARTnews. “Amoako’s efforts, both his studio and the new residency program together serve as catalysts for a burgeoning local art scene with such exciting new artist-led projects such as Dikan Center.”
At dot.ateliers’ opening evening, Larry Ossei Mensah, a Ghanaian American curator and a longtime collaborator of Boafo, told ARTnews that the artist’s impact is as much about his mentorship as his work.
“It’s very rare that an artist who has garnered so much attention, so quickly has been able to or even has an interest in sharing the platform and sharing the spotlight,” Mensah said.
The dot.ateliers’ launch left a major impression on Pace’s Ine-Kimba Boyle.
“I was immediately struck by the sense of community and kinship the artists here have for one another, especially those who have had international success,” she said. “They’ve all brought knowledge, resources, and network back to their respective ecosystems within Accra to ensure this does not remain a bubble but develops into a thriving hub.”
Ine-Kimba Boyle noted that, for the most part, the significant contributions and wealth that African artists have made to the global art market and art history have been exported out of Africa. “I believe it’s about time that changes,” she added.
Boafo said he’s noticed a “big shift” in the art world, and in Ghana.
“Everyone is looking at African art and Black art. Back in the day, ‘African art’ didn’t really fit into the conversation of the contemporary art canon,” Boafo said. “Now, people are taking initiatives into their own hands and building spaces themselves. I’m always thinking about how to bring people here to engage in the arts.”
With his success, Boafo has chosen to invest the fruits of his art career in Ghana and most importantly, its people.