Ghana’s Buzzed-About Venice Biennale Pavilion is a Clear First Step in the Country’s Bid to Become a Global Art Destination

Ghana is making a splashy first foray into the Venice Biennale with a masterful pavilion designed by architect David Adjaye and artwork from a stellar roster of African artists. The Venice Art Biennale, the world’s most celebrated international art event, has a history that is inextricably bound up with colonialism. Although states such as China have in recent years begun to present prominent national pavilions, African countries have been thin on the ground. This year, however, that balance is subtly shifting: Ghana has burst on to the scene with an exhibition featuring artists based in the country and from its diaspora. The paintings, photographs, films, sculptures and installations are presented in a series of deftly curving spaces designed by the architect Sir David Adjaye, whose most celebrated work includes the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. He is also the architect of a planned interdenominational National Cathedral of Ghana. The first-ever Ghana pavilion officially opened on Wednesday in the presence of the country’s first lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo. The artists shown include Turner-prize-nominated painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and Nigeria-based, Ghana-born El Anatsui, who is exhibiting some of his glimmering sculptures made from reused bottle tops.


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