For Ankomah, art is identity. A piece can never be complete unless the artist has left nothing back.
Bermondsey artist Eugene Ankomah has made a name for himself as a prominent figure in the black art scene on the international stage, being described as “Ghana’s Star Artist” for his rare ability to effortlessly deliver his message through whatever medium he chooses to explore.
Born in Northwest London, Ankomah lived much of his early childhood in Ghana before moving back to the UK and establishing himself in the art world, being the youngest ever recipient of the Peter Evans Award at the age of 17 before going onto study Illustration and Fine Art at the University of Westminster.
“He’s so talented, you just want to be sick”- Karl Barrie, Art Dealer
Visiting him at Salmon Youth Centre, where he works as artist in residence, the first thing that was made clear was the inseparable link between the way Eugene presents himself and the art he creates. The clothes he wore seemed to be an extension of the paint on the page; to fully explore the ideas of a project, his appearance appears to develop with it.
He explained “I do not want to leave my personality away from the work. I want to feel like i’ve given my all to my audience, without leaving anything back”.
Eugene seemed to have the ability to reach his hand into his own mind and drag out the deeper meaning behind his creative motives. Speaking about his influences, he described how even as a child his obsession with image was clear; giving the example of his memories of admiring his father’s military uniforms, then reflecting that admiration in his preferred style today.
Ankomah spoke about one of his most recent instillations: Disobedient Voices. This project aimed to take a magnifying glass to our modern life, an artistic rebellion against war, poverty, greed, leading his audience to a personal reflection on their own lives. “We watch things happen around us and we don’t do anything, we don’t say anything. Art is a language and I want to have a voice. Its stronger than just speaking to people, art does something different. It goes into your head, it doesn’t leave.”
The passion that Eugene has for his work is inspiring to say the least, the only constant in his constantly evolving art style is the love that he has for what he does.
This passion has not gone unnoticed. Ankomah has amassed a huge worldwide audience and countless awards, with the most recent accolade being the nomination for Best Creative Artist at the Black British Entertainment Awards, that celebrate “the true definition of black excellence”. For the launch of the awards, Ankomah developed a piece named ‘Blacklash Blues’; aimed to highlight the issue of immigration, the idea of Europe being a false haven for migrants and the victory of love over hate.
Ankomah is on the way up, with no sign of slowing down. In a constantly changing world, Eugene’s art will continue to change with it.
For more information on his work: http://eugeneankomah.com/
For more information about the BBE Awards: http://blackbritishentertainment.com/bbe-awards/