Bald Head King

The painting Bald Head King (portrait of David Nii Otoo) mesmerises me. The strong face like a dark silouette with eyes and lips that pop out. Kwesi Botchway created it during the lockdown in Accra in 2020. Just look at those deep purple details in the highlights, stunning.

The Ghana artist has been intrigued by the complexities of the human face since an early age. The role of color is also very important as “colors are characters, they have attitudes. I love the emotional play of portraiture, that feeling of trying to put yourself in the state of the subject […] the moment the emotions come in, there becomes a connection with the viewer. It’s like a conversation without words.” 

Botchway wants to “elevate Blackness” through his work. In the words of writer Ekow Eshun: Botchway creates imagery that captures “the nuance…and greater depth of humanity” of Black people. The artist wants: “to see Black people looking nice, living nice.” Botchway wants to recast art history as “the Black figure has historically been an invisible presence […] black figures were painted by European painters, and often when they’re there, they’re there without a name, without a history.”


More elavated blackness: Kerry James Marshall