Two Ghanaian photographers, Nana Kofi Acquah and Prince Gyasi have been named amongst the continent’s leading photographers according to experts in contemporary photography.
The list which was published by Atlanta based international media brand, CNN highlights the men and women who are spearheading the contemporary art movement in Africa. Opinions from what it describes as “four of the African arts scene’s most prominent figures”were solicited in creating the list.
Namely Helen Jennings, editorial director and co-founder of Nataal magazine, Touria El Glaoui, founder and director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Tokini Peterside, founder and director of Art x Lagos and Maheder Haileselassie Tadese, member of the Everyday Africa collective.
Award-winning photojournalist/story teller, Nana Kofi Acquah a.k.a Africa Show Boy who sort of represents the old yet reinvented school of photographers makes the list as usual. His name has appeared in some of the most prestigious awards scheme and has worked across the world documenting some of its important issues.
Sharing his story and love for image making with CNN, Nana Kofi Acquah had this to say about his journey to the top: “I discovered photography when I worked in advertising. I have a painting background and so I was quite shocked at how naturally I took to photography. With mastery of the craft came a desire to use it for more than just making pretty pictures. At this moment in my life, my photography is about telling important stories that help challenge and hopefully change perceptions (of) Africa. “The camera immortalizes anything you point it at, and that is a knowledge that motivates me. If I can point my camera at the people, the issues and the stories I deem worthy, the world has no choice but to pay attention. And with that attention comes opportunity to challenge or change people’s minds.”
Representing a new school of young Ghanaian artist, Prince Gyesi is receiving international acclaim with spades as he continues to document Ghanaian popular culture and change the malicious narrative that has bedeviled the continent for years. Gyesi who loves to be addressed as a visual artist rather than a photographer has featured in projects by VSCO, Apple and the SKOLL foundation.
He also shared his young yet burgeoning career with the following words: “When I was four years old, my mother would often go fabric shopping at Makola Market, one of Accra’s biggest shopping places. She would drop me off at this photographer’s small studio. I would always dress well, usually in my denim jacket and pants, because I knew he would take pictures of me with his camera. I’d follow him around the market just to see him photograph people, and anytime he didn’t show up to work, I would cry. “I had aspirations of becoming an abstract painter but found love in creating art with my iPhone.”The city of Accra inspires me to keep creating. The people, the colors that make up the flag of Ghana inspire me to create more. “As a co-founder of (the non-profit education organization) Boxed Kids, I will keep telling the stories of the kids in Jamestown and Ghana in general. People need to know about the culture and our story. “I believe the norm is not for everyone. I’m different. I would rather people call me a visual artist. I do not want to be recognized as a photographer, but as an artist. Most of my images look like paintings from afar because they are art pieces, not photographs. I want to leave a legacy in the art world.”
Other photographers who made the list include Kenya’s Brian Otieno,
Kadara Enyeasi and Lakin Ogunbanwo from Nigeria, South African Phumzile Khanyile, Hassan Hajjaj who hails from Morocco