Wiz KUDOWOR: “What matters is the process of creation “

Le 29-05-2010 • Pays : Ghana

Interview of Wiz Kudowor,painter, during his exhibition entitled Wizz’recents works  (Nubuke Foundation in Accra, from March 23th to April 30th).


Few days after the opening of his exhibition, we met the artist in the Nubuke Foundation, to ask him some questions about his relationship toward his public.

Do you think that the question of the public can affect the work of artists, and if yes how ?
I’m not usually familiar with what others people think. I’ll tell you what I think on the effects of the public. As an artist, the Public has very little effect on me. The works I do comes from me and I expect that it would have an effect on the public, not other we are. But as I said it for fun, it’s true that a lot of the artists in Accra, or preferring in Ghana, (I know little about Ghana and of course  Nigeria where I traveled a lot), so a lot of artists do their work because they think the public will appreciate that. This is what the public will appreciate so they do that for the public. Now, I ‘ve travelled to Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast sometimes and some of the artists has interrupted me and to tell “ oh this is the kind of works the foreigners, and the French like so  we do this for them”. In my case no, the work I do is for me, this is what I like to do, and so that’s what I do, and I expect this would  have an effect on the public, if it doesn’t, then I feel like an artist and that’s the way I look at myself.

It’s not you case but how explained you the fact that some artists in Ghana tries to please the market and especially the occidental market, is there a special reason?

No that what I’ m saying, it is not. They are some artists, especially the youngest, they do it for that matter :  they want to impress the public so that they can sell their works, it happens, even if it’s not my case. It’s a survival thing if you ask me, they need to survive.  They need to be able to sell, but I don’t think that it’s always the case that what the public like is what they do actually. They don’t even look at it because, It’s not exciting anymore, it doesn’t reflect anything from the artist himself, they doing something outside of themselves just to please the public and they are not able to sell that, even if they did like that to please the public, you see. But it happens because they have to sell so that they can survive, and in the end some of them gradually build up and try to do their own thing even if they still want to please the public too. This is one of the difficulties of being an artist.  You have to find a fine balance between trying to please the public, by making what you think the public will like and also try to be yourself, this is a very difficult situation to behave.  What happens is that most people are unable to move away from what can please the public. But we all have been in a situation where we have to do that kind of stuffs because we have to sell, it’s also the way to find yourself, but some people are never  able to move away from the fact they have to please the public but whatever what they did, it’s not them and this has no identity. But others move away from that and become themselves.  This is what I’ve done and now I want to share my work with the public which is different from trying to please the public. I want to share with somebody: you like it or you don’t like it, it doesn’t matter, I don’t expect you to like it. If you don’t want to buy, I’m fine, if you want to buy I’m also fine too, whatever, I’m happy to have done the work. This is the important thing. So yes, the public played a part in certain extend, even in the west, there are people who work for the public. They are famous sometimes but they do it for money they don’t struggle with art, they don’t find themselves in that struggle. They decided they want to make money with art, and so they do.  It’s a decision you have to take.

You have made many exhibitions abroad and what do you think about the Ghanaian artistic scene? Is is different from the others places?

In fact concerning the Ghanaian artistic scene… we don’t have an artistic scene,  because there are very few artistic activities that happen here, Ghanaian don’t have the high level of appreciation of art for instance contrary to Ivory Coast or Togo or Nigeria, where there is a higher level of appreciation. People who can afford to spend some money on Art rather spend their money on others places, because they cannot understand why they should spend it on art. There is a huge difference with others countries, For instance in Nigeria (let us speak about the English speaking countries). In Nigeria because they had a long history of appreciation of art, they have a long cultural history and develop that kind of appreciation which is lacking here in Ghana. Here people don’t know what to do with contemporary art. And this is difficult for the artists to pick up programs, or rule a lot of activities. For the opening of my exhibition in the Nubuke Fondation, it was different: people came because I have reached a point  where people  can accept that, yes, they wanted to come and see what I am doing. I’ haven’t done any exhibition here in Ghana for the last six years and so people, when I advertized that I was doing this show, wanted to come and see what is new. But usually it’s always the same people who came, and it’s always the expatriated people.

There are some famous artists in Ghana, and some of them are working abroad, what happen when they come back ?

They don’t even come back. Nobody’s known who they are anyway. If you mention a Ghanaian artist like El Anatsui, who works abroad, yeah they are known but only by their families and others artists and maybe the few people who collect artworks. So if they come here and make an exhibition they have to make an extra effort to get people to come and see it. I live here, I work here so that the reason why people come because they know about me. That’s the difference. The last exhibition at the Artist Alliance Gallery was about the expatriated artists, and because that the gallery put them together many people came because each of them bring his friend and family and the people who know him.

But the artists here in Ghana are struggling here by creating networks and have this awareness of the importance of being linked which is not the case in the French speaking countries..

I know a bit about Togo and Nigeria. Nigeria is big and artists come from various art schools over the country but they have set up organizations and they all belong to that organization. Indeed each college has its organization who identify its artists but all of them know the others organizations and they work together, that’s the difference between Nigeria and Ghana and also others places, because they set up these small small organizations, and they do things, they work together and invite others people too from others places. In Ghana we have few organizations like the FCA (Foundation for Contemporary Art) and most of the young artists belong to that. We started, it but unfortunately because I moved around a lot, I never having a part of it. The younger people have tried to fix it and set some activities, and they are quite well known for their activities. The other reason why it’s difficult for artists to come in Ghana is funding.  In Ghana, there is no funding for art even if in the last 3 years the European Union has bringing some funds to support contract activities but otherwise there is nothing. Government funding is not exiting. So it’s a big struggle for artists to try to organize activities for the public, even if you want to educate the public, it’s difficult.

But do you have a Ministry of Culture?

Yeah, there is a Commission of Culture, it’s not a Ministry but they don’t have enough funding themselves to support activities so… (Laughing). So we have activities like those of the Nubuke Foundation which is trying to raise awareness. These activities are to get some knowledge in Art for people, some education about that.

But Cultural Traditions are mainly promoted here, is it the same Commission which take in charge traditional things and the contemporary one?

Contemporary Art has no support at all. But for sure, they used to be on the same commission but now the Chieftry has it own Ministry only to promote traditional culture. Dance and Theater benefit of some supports but not the contemporary Art. Lot of people doesn’t want to make any effort to understand contemporary culture

To come back on your work, we see that you use a lot of traditional Ghanaian symbols and you revival them, is it well understood by the population, because we heard that the traditional background have not to be reinterpreted, it can be seen as a provocative thing ?

I use those symbols not because I want anybody to understand them. I used them as an artistic tool. I used them as a motif. So to me they have no special means but the symbols on their own, their meanings are not well known by people. But I use them because I like them, and  also because they come from here. When I started to use them in my work in 1984, people were already thinking it was over used so it’s wasn’t provocative at all to use them. They are there, you know, and I like to use it, you like it or you don’t like it, what else? It ‘just me, you know.  I don’t have any problem in using symbols and interpreting them in my own way.  It’s a question of color and balance, you know they have a meaning but I’m illiterate in that concerns, for me that’s the way you feel about it.  The work is about me. If it feels right for me so it’s good. But you actually when I have done a work, this doesn’t mean anything for me, I have to move on to a new work immediately to have that satisfaction of work, that’s why I don’t sell my works with a special prize. It doesn’t matter at all. For me I’m happy to what I’ve created, but  what matters is the process of the creation.

This will be the last question. Is this you who organize this exhibition and who made the scenography? How do you manage the works?.

Yes, I decided it, I put a work on the wall and if it doesn’t relate to the next work next to it, If it doesn’t make sense, and if I stand there and feel nothing, then I move it. That’s all the story. The colour…  I’ve tried to put the very recently works together, but it was poor, the feeling was poor, so I changed, to balance it, that’s the way I feel about the place, you know. I have to feel good. And if it’s feels right for me I hope people will be coming, Because if you don’t like it yourself,   don’t expect that another person will like it, that’s what I believe in.

Maybe you have question or things to add ?

No I said too much already, I said too much on my canvas ! I think I said a lot. You know I put a lot of myself in my works and then I think I don’t have to give anybody an explanation. All I expect is that people will see something and would make their own interpretations. I don’t want to voice out about it.. That’s what I think, if you look enough, you must see something. If you see something, it’s good, if you don’t see anything, it’s doesn’t mind. I like it when I ‘m standing there and heard people say “oh yes, look this is…” I like that, this is exciting.

Thank you Wiz, for all these answers.

Fodé and  Zoé


Wiz KUDOWOR: “Ce qui compte c’est le processus de création “

Entretien réalisé avec Wiz Kudowor, artiste peintre durant son exposition Wiz’recent works ( Nubuke Foundation, à Accra du 23 Mars au 30 Avril).


Quelques jours après le vernissage de son exposition, nous avons rencontré l’artiste à la Nubuke Foundation afin de l’interroger sur sa relation au public.


Pensez vous que la question du public puisse avoir un effet sur le travail d’un artiste, et si oui quels effets ?

Je n’ai pas l’habitude de penser de la même manière que les autres. Donc je vous  dirai ce que je pense être les effets  du public sur mon travail. En tant qu’artiste, le public a très peu d’effet sur moi. Les œuvres que je réalise viennent du plus profond de moi et j’espère que c’est elles qui font de l’effet au public et pas le contraire.  Mais même si je le dis en plaisantant, il ya beaucoup d’artistes à Accra, et si vous préférez au Ghana, car je connais un peu le Ghana, et le Nigéria bien sur, beaucoup d’artistes  travaillent en fonction de ce qu’ils pensent que le public appréciera,  c’est ca que le public va aimer, donc c’est ca que l’on va faire, et c’est ainsi qu’ils travaillent pour le public. Bon, moi  j’ai voyagé au Togo, au Bénin, en Cote d’Ivoire et certains des artistes rencontrés là bas me dérangeaient pour me dire «  oh ca c’est le genre de travaux qu’aiment les étrangers, les français ». Dans mon cas, non je ne veux pas de cela. Le travail que je fais est pour moi, c’est ce que j’aime faire et ce que je fais, et j’espère que cela aura un effet sur le public.

Ce n’est pas votre cas, mais comment expliquez vous le fait que certains artistes essaient tellement de plaire au marché de l’art et particulièrement au marché occidental, y’a t-il une raison spéciale?
Ce n’est pas mon cas comme je viens de le dire, mais c’est vrai que certains  artiste et en particuliers les plus jeunes font cela : ils cherchent à impressionner le public pour vendre leurs œuvres. Ca arrive même si, je le répète, ce n’est pas mon cas. Mais si vous me le demandez, je vous dirai que pour eux c’est une question de survie, ils doivent survivre.  &

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Tei Huagie : l’art de faire et de refaire

Le 24-05-2010 • Pays : Ghana

Entretien réalisé avec l’artiste plasticien Tei HUAGIE, quartier Labone à Accra

Le Ghana se démarque de ses pays voisins par beaucoup de choses  et notamment  par son engagement pour la propreté. Ici  l’état affiche  partout son ambition grâce à des panonceaux récurrents  « Keep Ghana clean » (Gardons le Ghana propre) qui invitent la population à sauvegarder son environnement. Cependant si le pays peut se targuer de résultats visibles, il reste encore beaucoup à faire et certains comme l’artiste plasticien Tei Huagie ont décidé d’apporter leur propre pierre à l’édifice en abordant les réponses environnementales d’un point de vue artistique mais aussi sociétal.

En effet, depuis 2005 cet artiste peintre et sculpteur a décidé d’utiliser les objets les plus fréquemment jetés par les autres comme base et fondement de son travail plastique. Ainsi, au fil des mois il est devenu un designer du rejeté,  et le créateur d’un univers de la seconde chance dans lequel il redonne une fonction et un rôle à tout ce qu’on pensait inutile. Ainsi, des semelles de claquettes estivales deviennent une chemise dernier cri,  des sachets d’eau en plastique se transforment en tee-shirt et en sac, et les bouteilles de plastiques en boites à trésors. Pour lui utiliser les objets rejetés par les autres n’est pas seulement un acte artistique mais aussi et surtout un engagement  politique. Car Les déchets, comme les gens laissés en marge et  qu’on pense invisibles et inutiles s’accumulent et abiment la société, non pas pour ce qu’ils sont  mais parce qu’en les rejetant on participe soi même à la déliquescence de sa société. Pour Tei l’art du recyclage témoigne que chacun peut retrouver une place et devenir important. Il se bat d’ailleurs pour enseigner sa pratique aux plus jeunes et leur donner une possibilité d’avenir. Pour lui, l’art du recyclage doit se développer et il souhaiterait que ces objets puissent être vendus dans un magasin dédié à cela. Il envisage le combat pour la propreté comme un pan entier de l’économie à venir qui est en train de se développer doucement au Ghana. En effet, pour l’instant si le public aime bien cette mouvance artistique, les gens ont encore du mal à la percevoir comme telle, même si concernant Tei, la Bank Office de Washington collectionne déjà certaines de ces œuvres.  Mais s’il  est un artiste remarqué et remarquable dont l’œuvre aussi éclectique que personnelle ne peut pas passer inaperçue, Tei Huagie pense à la démocratisation de sa pratique, car plus qu’une manière de faire, elle est une manière de voir le monde autrement et de le reconstruire à partir de ce qui participe à sa  destruction.  Ainsi en  tissant  l’espoir, Tei Huagie s’adresse à tout le monde et pense le développement de son art à l’échelle du collectif.

Fodé et Zoé 

Translation in English


Ghana is quite different from its borders countries especially in the way it deals with the environmental questions. Here the State explains everywhere its will towards cleanliness thanks to some ads asking “keep Ghana Clean” in order people to take care of their environment.  However if there are some good results many things still must to be done and some people as the artist Tei Huagie decided to take part in this fight. He brings some solutions with an artistic but also societal point of view

Actually, since 2005, this painter and sculptor has decided to use the objects the others used to thrown away. He became a designer of the whist, and created a universe on the new lease on in which he gave a new function to these things everybody used to find useless. Thus he transforms old slippers to fashionable shirts and water bags  to bags or T. Shirt, and plastic bottle to treasure bottles. To him, this process is not only an artistical one but also a political engagement. The wrecks  like people on the margins of society rise and destroy the society not because of what they are but because we wanted to let them away and try to make them invisible. This lead to a destruction of the society and we are all responsible of it. To Tei’s mind recycling art show that everyone can find a place again and become someone important. He also fights for teaching his practical to the youth in order to give them a future.  To him, the recycling art had to be developed in his country and he wanted to sell his works in a shop dedicated to it.  He is seeing the struggle for cleanliness like a part of the incoming economy. In Ghana the way is long but people begin to understand what can be this kind of art even if for the moment the public likes it without recognize it, he nows that this will happen. The Bank Office of Washington already collects some of his works. But if he is becoming a famous artists in Ghana, with a work  which cannot go unnoticed, Tei Huagie think to democratizes his practical because it’s more than a way of doing, it’s a way to see the world differently by rebuilding it from what has destroyed it. Thus weaving hope, Tei Huagie delivers a message to anyone and thinks the development of his art at the collective scale.

Fode and Zoe 

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