Antubam, Kofi (1922–1964) By Woets, Rhoda
Kofi Antubam was an influential and pioneering modern artist in Ghana. His realistic, narrative scenes of idealized African life, depicted in wall paintings and mosaics, influenced many artists after him. In 1957 Antubam was appointed as an official state artist following Ghana’s independence; an unsurprising development given Antubam’s firm belief that artists should contribute to national pride and development, representing Ghana in their art work as a modern nation with a unique past and culture.
Antubam received his art education at Achimota School, in Accra, and Goldsmiths College, in London. He exhibited his work both in Ghana and internationally in cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Düsseldorf, and New York. Antubam challenged contemporary African artists to use the skills honed from their European based art training as tools in painting cultural portraits of traditional African culture. A representational art style, he argued, was only a vehicle to express what lay within. Assimilation was the key concept for Antubam in the development of a national and African identity that, he argued, would remain distinct from East and West despite the assimilation of foreign elements.