AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHNEY OHENE

FIRST PUBLISHED IN ARTRAGE (INTER-CULTURAL MAGAZINE) AUTUMN 1988

 

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About Johney Ohene 

As an artist my development and quest for originality in the early 1970s was dominated by two cultures:

a) The Ghanaian traditional culture and (b) the western environment in which I currently live.

 

The clash, which resulted, led to conflict in my approach to work. Initially, this conflict was seen as a disadvantage, but later became an asset motivating my genuine interest in cosmopolitan art.

Placed in an alien environment one cannot use a strange vocabulary and hope for common understanding. To solve this problem I retreated to my childhood technique where my attitude to painting was not dominated by Art history nor cultural awareness. My interest was to express ideas freely and simply in my naïve style irrespective of academic expectations. This is evident in a series of ‘Constructions’ produced in the late 70s which later developed into pure abstraction and use of point line and plane. Occasionally I strayed under the influence of either culture.

In time I became conscious of the need to converge on the two cultural experiences. I embarked upon painting symbols empty of meaning, leaving the viewer to form his or her own opinion irrespective of their cultural background or knowledge.

Curiosity and feedback led to my interest to influence my viewer’s perception. This resulted in gradual introduction of identifiable motif or figures into abstraction in the late 1980s and early part of 1990s. E.g. ‘Man with two dogs 1982 and Alice needs help in 1984’ series.

Problems and difficulties experienced in subsequent paintings for example, ‘Joke Street’ acrylic on canvas 1993, led to minimal use of form and stick figures. This blending into abstraction mirrored a state of consciousness and awareness of the interplay between ones imagination and environment. This is seen in works produced on paper in the ‘conscious awareness series’ from 1990 – 1992.

The latter parts of 90s see further development and use of traditional ‘Akan’ scenes, illustrative form and abstraction in line and plane. My interest progressed to control and manipulation of space, tone and colour, with emphasis on the creation of mood through subtle variation of form.

This stage in my development is sighted and described as Syncretism (‘Morden African Paintings – The Identity of African Art in relation with European Aethetics.-Iv.5.25 Syncretism, by Mercedes Carmona.

Recent developments in computer graphics, has enabled further experiments in this approach to my work.

The Art of Johney Ohene

Ohene is an established painter and poet with more than twenty years experience exhibiting his work internationally.

Educational Background

Adisadel College – 1965 Cape Coast - Ghana
BA (Hons)-Maidstone in August 1977.
MSc – London Guildhall University 1995

One-man Exhibition

Commonwealth Institute Summer 1978, (Drum exhibition).
Greenwich Theatre Gallery -1978
Private and group exhibitions in London and Kent.
Commonwealth Film and Television Festival (August 1980)
Arts Council Centre, Ghana (August 1981)
Solo Exhibition - Peoples Gallery Camden (November 1984)
Solo Exhibition - Lambeth Town Hall (March 1985)
Solo Exhibition - African Centre London (November 1985)
Solo Exhibition - Royal Festival Hall London (March 1986)
Solo Exhibition - Euro Gallery, London (June 1986)
R.S.G.I. Exhibition - Regensburg, Germany (November 1986)
Solo Exhibition - M.C.A. London (September 1989)
R.S.G.I.Exhibition - Regensburg, Germany (November 1990)
Solo Exhibition - M.C.A. London (June 1992)
R.S.G.I Exhibition - Regensburg, Germany (November 1994)
Black Art Gallery – London 1996
Agora Gallery – New York 2000
Tablet Gallery – London (March 2002)

Third World Art exhibition at LSE (March 1981).
Royal Overseas League Exhibition (August 1982).
Dixon Gallery (festival of Brazil June 1983)
Creation for Liberation, Brixton (July 1983)
Double Vision Exhibition - Cartwright Hall, Ipswich (December 1986)
Double Vision Exhibition - Bankfield Museum, Halifax (January-February 1987)
Double Vision Exhibition - City Art Gallery, Worcester (June 1987)
 

Group Exhibitions

Double Vision Exhibition - Ipswich (August 1987)
Point of Arrival Exhibition - Woodlands Art Gallery, London (September 1988)
The South of the World - Exhibition Marsala, Italy (February 1991)
Agora Gallery – 2000

Grupobatik Gallery – Barcelona – Spain (2003 & 2004)

 Publications and Interview

Mike Eghan Show – Ghana August 1981
Winner of the Royal Overseas League Prize in August 1982.
BBC Canadian broadcasting Services interview.
'A Selected Works' – Publication - Series of works from 1976 - 1984
'The South of the World' - The other contemporary art-Mazzotta 1991
Morden African Paintings – The identity of African Art in Relation with European aesthetics, By Mercedes Carmona

Printed Interviews
Art rage 1984
Talking Drum 1985

 


 See more of Johney's work at:

http://www.ohene.co.uk/