The only genuinely surprising event during what was an otherwise flat week of Post War & Contemporary Art auctions in London was the remarkable result achieved by African rising star Amoako Boafo at Phillips’ evening sale on February 13th. His painting entitled 'The Lemon Bathing Suit' managed to find a buyer at £675,000 (fees included), from an estimate of £30,000 to £50,000.
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The above may have surprised many art aficionados but for whoever has managed to follow Boafo’s recent yet skyrocketing career success it must have represented a further reassurance – in this case, from the market – of this young artist’s solid talent.
Born in Accra, Ghana, Amoako moved to Vienna a few years ago, where he still lives, studies and works. Relocating to the Austrian capital has allowed him to closely admire the work of the Viennese masters and looking at the robust, violent and rough brushstrokes that so distinctively characterise Amoako’s sitters one is immediately reminded of Egon Schiele’s approach to painting. In 'The Lemon Bathing Suit' this captivating painterly technique plays in harmonious contrast with the smooth background, the pool, which creates an overall feeling of soothing yet precarious and fragile equilibrium determined by the relationship of body and water, further enhanced by the woman caught in the act of anchoring herself to the deck by holding it.
The presence of the pool also puts Amoako in an ideal stylistic dialogue with the artists who before him explored such an iconic theme…and to the discerned eye the link to David Hockney’s 'The Splash', the picture that turned out to be the most expensive of the whole London auction season (£23,1m with fees), must have been natural.
A proud advocate of blackness in contemporary society through his art and characters, in an interview published on Bloomberg website the day before the evening sale at Phillips Boafo did not hesitate to express his concerns about having a work by him included in a high-profile auction as in his opinion this was happening too early. Another emerging name of the contemporary African art scene, Tschabalala Self, had shown similar doubts in the recent past.