Brothers and Friends, 2021, 45 x 37 inches, Dyed Canvas and Assorted Fabric and Textiles on canvas
Kwesi Kwarteng creates resplendent textile artworks using a diversity of culturally significant fabrics from around the world and canvas, which he dyes by hand, stitches, and re-imagines as masterful tapestries. Kwarteng’s repertoire of artworks can be characterized by 3 distinguished textile mediums—multi-dimensional sub-sculptures that combine textiles and mesh wire, drape pieces that he shapes into fluid, floating fabric arrangements and, ‘textile paintings” which appear as stretched and framed abstract art made from fabric. He approaches his art practice with an intentionality and regard for the perfect imperfection of an experimental creative expression. His “textile paintings” are precise and distill a conversation between the more layered drape and sub-sculptural works. Kwarteng’s works serve to explore multi-cultural identity, social cohesion and inclusion, and global inter-connectivity which act as counterpoints to the absurdity of racial tensions and social divisions that persists in the US and around the world. In Kwarteng’s works, there is an exploration of traditional weavers in Ghana, influenced by El Anatsui’s extraordinary sculptures, twentieth century African American quilting artistry, and abstract, color field works by Sam Gilliam. He perfectly captures the nuances of using what might be considered a myriad of discarded remnants and swatches to align narratives that reflect his experiences growing up in Ghana and moving to the United States as a teenager. Through his early challenges as an immigrant, he learned to embrace the multi-facets of culture and the heterogeneity of the immigrant story in the Bronx, New York. His works are held in private collections around the world.
Kwesi O. Kwarteng is a contemporary fabric artist based in Newark, NJ. He dyes canvases using multiple dying techniques and combines them with textiles from different cultures to create abstract pieces. Starting off as a painter, Kwesi approaches his work like he would his paintings. He considers the fabrics as the paint he uses in making these works and the sewing (by hand and/or machine) as the brush that brings them together. By combining these assorted cultural fabrics with the dyed canvases, Kwesi attempts to represent his view of the world as an immigrant living in the United States. Over the last decade immigration has become a major part of the socio-political discourse of many developed countries. Be it the emigration of Mexicans to America, the Syrians or North Africans heading towards Europe, or the emigration from east to the west in search of high paying jobs in the tech world. There is anxiety on both sides. Anti-immigration and xenophobia is very prevalent today, he seeks to address this through his work. The goal? To champion multiculturalism. Kwesi has a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY; he’s had two solo shows and taken part in several group exhibitions. His works are in private collections in the US, Germany, and Ghana. He is a recent recipient of the creative catalyst grant award.
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