Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe's (b.1988, Accra, Ghana; based in Portland, OR) figuration is built upon a palette where color becomes its own language of transformation, be it social, political or personal. His are images of empowerment and redemption, sophistication and humility, curiosity and quietude. Each figure becomes a symbol of the reclamation of cultural dignity, embracing the idea of origin and personal narrative as it relates to gender and race dynamics.
“When I first see my subjects, whether in real life or in photos, I see in them their resilience, their power, their inner strength. These are the character traits that arrest me, that jump out at me and grab my attention… My subject’s attitude is very important to me. I try to put myself in their place. See what they see, experience what they experience, be who they are.”
Certainly, the colors reflect the subject's state of mind and suggest a more complicated and celebrated relationship to the world around them. The specificity of the palette used – bright oranges, Yves Klein blues, lurid yellows and cherry reds – suggest a fearlessness of intention as well as creating an electrified emotional space where the artist endeavors to capture the essence of each of his subjects, including their own personal sense of style and fashion.
Quaicoe attended the Ghanatta College of Art and Design for Fine Art in Accra, Ghana, with a focus on painting. His second solo show, ONE BUT TWO (Haadzii), opened Summer 2021 with a presentation of new works continuing his idiosyncratic perspective on Diasporic culture through the celebrated form of Black portraiture. This followed Black Like Me, the gallery’s inaugural presentation with the artist and his first solo gallery exhibition in the United States, which took place in January 2020.