“The Challenge of Portrait Painting in Ghana”

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Portrait painting has not been adequately exploited in Ghana, and is lacking in terms of documentation. it is therefore this desire to explore and document this area of painting, which has basically promoted this research. In this light, much documentation can be an invaluable contribution to painting in Ghana. In most cases the knowledge of anatomy is of great importance to the portrait painter. At least knowing how the bones and muscles look like and having an idea of how some of the muscles function is of help t the portrait artist. Row the head is attached to the neck and the neck to the shoulders, how the neck is affected by head movements, and how facial expressions are made by the muscles moving under the skin of the face, scalp and neck, are all of great importance to the portrait painter. From the prehistoric period to present day men have had different reasons for making portraits. These reasons affected the way their portraits were painted. For instance during the middle Egyptian period artists were commissioned to paint portraits of Pharaohs and those portraits were used to adorn the walls of tombs. The Egyptian believed that, the body of a man must be preserved, if the soul was to live on after death. The resemblance of the King was of great importance, so they would be double sure. During the Renaissance and to present day the personality of the sitter was of primary importance and not only that but the relationship between the artist and the sitter was most relevant of all. To the contemporary Ghanaian portrait painter, a portrait means more than just the facial resemblance of a sitter, but that the artist, when painting a portrait should be making a statement concerning his sitter. Ten personalities of different professional or occupational backgrounds were selected as sitters for this project. Koo Nimo (Dr. Kwabena .Amponsah) for his iaunense contribution to traditional music in Ghana, Kwamivi Zewuze Adzraku as a painter, Nana Ama Konadu for her traditional role as a queen mother, Dr. T.C. Ankrah as a medicil practitioner, Mrs. Charity Asare as a educationist, Nana Brefo Boateng as a cultural officer, Edward Broni .s a sculpture, Bishop Akwasi Sarpong for his religious role and Wofa Kosuako as a driver. These individuals were selected because of the importance of their professions or occupations to the development of the nation (this is not to say that other professions not mentioned are not important to the development of the nation). In painting the portraits, colour, gesture and mood were analysed to enhance the personality of the sitters.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Fine Arts in Painting, 1997