Yannick Ackah (1992 in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire) is a recognized contemporary artist and currently one of the most sought-after emerging artists in Africa. His works, reminiscent of Picasso and Basquiat, sold out immediately at the Positions art fair in Berlin and at his first solo exhibition last September.
At first glance, the artist's work reveals his deep roots in the visual cultures of Africa. Ackah's compositions are inspired by African sculptures and masks. The stylistic reference to Picasso and his work is deliberate, since Picasso's source of inspiration also goes back to African culture. Ackah himself describes his relationship to the mask as a mystery:
"I see in African sculpture a beauty, a challenge, a whole history, a great mystery that I try to solve through my work with lines, brushstrokes and also with color." (Ackah, 2021)
However, Ackah's own identity and the society in which he lives also play an undeniable role, and his works address socio-political issues such as racism, colonialism, and cultural appropriation.
Various materials such as paper, newspaper and magazine articles, or fabric, which he assembles in a collage-like manner in his works, create the typical surface structure. They contribute to the three-dimensionality and depth of his works and add a dimension of everyday and popular culture, which the artist playfully combines with traditional motifs.
With his works, the artist provides a contemporary reception in the visual arts that addresses the current restitution debate about ethnological masks. At the same time, it is a young generation's view of Africa. What is the significance of masks in everyday life, what is the meaning of their restitution, and what problems arise from the heavy legacy of colonial history for one's own culture?
Yannick Ackah graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) in 2020. Since then, he has exhibited internationally and his works are in prestigious public and private collections in France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea. In 2022, he was selected for the exhibition Aufatmen in the Barlach Halle K of the Landesverband Hamburger Galerien e.V., which is sponsored by the Kulturbehörde der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg.