The Artsy Vanguard 2020: Amoako Boafo

Claire Voon, Artsy, September 11, 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020 is our annual list of the most promising artists shaping the future of contemporary art. This year, artists are organized into two categories: Newly Emerging, which presents artists who’ve gained momentum in the past year, showing at leading institutions and galleries; and Getting Their Due, which identifies artists who have persevered for decades, yet only recently received the spotlight they deserve. Now in its third edition, the feature was developed by the Artsy staff, in collaboration with our network of international curators and art professionals. Explore more of The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

 

AMOAKO BOAFO

Amoako Boafo’s luminous portraits make and hold space for Black joy, Black subjectivity, and Black self-determination. They challenge easy notions of Blackness, as in his ongoing series “Black Diaspora,” which celebrates his peers with a quiet intimacy: Each muse’s gaze, pose, and sartorial flair harmonize to insist on a gorgeously complicated identity of their own.

 

Over the past year and a half, Boafo has experienced a lightning rise in the mainstream art world, becoming highly sought after in a market showing overdue attention to Black artists. Roberts Projects exhibited “Black Diaspora,” Boafo’s first U.S. show, in January 2019, then Nina Chanel Abney curated his paintings into a group presentation at Jeffrey Deitch. That December, Boafo’s debut at Art Basel in Miami Beach with influential gallerist Mariane Ibrahim quickly sold out, shortly after the Rubell Museum named him its first artist in residence. This February, notorious collector Stefan Simchowitz brazenly flipped a painting Boafo had completed just eight months prior; it sold for £675,000 ($875,144), more than 10 times its high estimate of £50,000 ($64,825).

 

 This September, Boafo presents never-before-seen works at his inaugural solo exhibition with Mariane Ibrahim, “I Stand By Me.” And in 2021, he is due to open solo shows at Roberts Projects.
 
“I Stand By Me” features portraits made with an image-transfer technique Boafo has recently embraced. Unchanging is his style of measured finger painting, which animates these vibrant reflections of Black identities, while asserting them as inseparable extensions of himself.