Amoako Boafo’s exhibition of new works debuted last week in Chicago at Mariane Ibrahim, where it remains on view through October 24. The artist’s first solo show at the gallery, “I STAND BY ME” features a series of portraits extending a call to preserve independence and integrity by inviting the viewer to take part in a moment of reflection and celebration of self.
Finding inspiration in the Black emerging creatives who surround him, Boafo’s paintings are entirely focused on their subjects, capturing them atop blank or lightly washed canvases. Methods of photo transfer applied to European wallpapers adorn the subjects with elements of pattern and variation—like a shirt printed with green ivy leaves, or a bowtie in plaid. Though Boafo’s constant mission is to evolve and redevelop his aesthetic, each work still bears the swirling, gestural strokes that are unmistakably his.
Captivating viewers with intimate compositions that suggest influences from great masters of Classical portraiture and Expressionism, Boafo only paints what is necessary to capture the humanity of his subjects. This often results in partial figures, where the focus is drawn to their lively eyes and the expressive markings that give them an almost-sculptural energy.
Show highlights include works like Green Beret, in which a figure dressed in a palette of green stands solo in the center of the canvas; a portrait of a woman in an intricately patterned dress wearing a red headwrap; and a depiction of two men in suits, posed atop a pink canvas in a casual embrace.