Sex is the highest currency. Sex is the only commodity that can give money and politics, religion and power a run for its money. Sex runs the world. Politics, on the other hand, is how the world relates to itself, our beliefs, but with a business-like approach, it is the conversation between all the citizens of Earth.
After a brief but intellectually stimulating conversation with Serge Attukwei Clottey about the life and times of his art in his Dzworwulu studio, it became of little surprise why a genius like Afrogallonism will thread on a subject like “sex and politics” in his new artistic series, knowing fully well its complicity and implications in today’s generation.
Sex and politics, taboo topics, few embody a defiance of fear with greater dignity and grace than Afrogallonism.
Sexuality is a hot topic. Sexuality is all over the internet and on social media with conversations and heated arguments going on in LGBT/CIS communities about gender and gender balancing, and it is no joke, in such arguments, there is a pressure to be politically correct in your opinions or cause great offence or hormonal eruptions. On the other hand of the Internet, Politics is also causing major fracas with the on-going war between Democrats, Republicans, the whole Trump brouhaha, African leaders and making their subjects kneel in front of them, embezzlement, elections and re-elections. Afrogallon chose the best time to present his creations reflecting issues of the time.
“What”, or “Who” is Afrogallonism? An unbeliever might ask. Why don’t I start with “What” and then say “Who.”
What is Afrogallonism? Afrogallonism is a made up word. The name “Afrogallonism” came to Serge Attukwei Clottey four years ago just as a means to create an identity, an image and a brand to sell to the world. Afrogallonism can be broken down into three main words, “Afro”, “Gallon” and “Ism:.
Afro: A colonial prefix adopted by Europeans to describe people, animals, names, foods, places and things originating from the magnificent continent that is Africa.
Gallon: Kufuor Gallons are vessels created by European merchant traders used to transport various substances that are in liquid form from Africa to Europe during expeditions and the transatlantic slave trade. So in essence, Afrogallonism is the vessel for transporting African Art for all of Europe to see and marvel at, like they did with Palm and crude oil.
Ism: a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.
Serge Attukwei Clottey is also the creator and creative lead of the group called Afrogallonism.
What is Afrogallonism? It is a state of mind; it is the conscience and personality of Serge Attukwei Clottey coming to life in an artistic form for those who wish to follow, it is a culture. A culture supported by his group of performers called “GoLokal”
It is the age of recycling, and some have chosen to go at it by turning trash into art. Trash art. And that is the genius of Serge Attukwei Clottey. To those not in the know, Serge Attukwei Clottey (Afrogallonism) is a Ghanaian based artist (and working internationally) who studied the basic concepts of fine art in Ghanatta College of Art and Design, Accra, Ghana and then furthered his studies to Escola Guignard in Brazil where he got the final polish to a contemporary artist. As an aspiring and budding artist who, much later in life, found himself in Europe, Serge Attukwei Clottey had his first art exhibition in France, in 2001, sixteen years ago with the help of a friend who marvelled at his work and thought it was good enough to be exhibited. A legend was born. Since then, he, Afrogallonism, has gone on to exhibit in other spaces as well as performances, like in Chale Wote, Cape Town art fair, and other festivals across Africa and Europe.
The journey to being Afrogallonism has not been easy or a bed of roses as most people might think, there have been obstacles as there have also been with those who venture into the unknown to seek answers via artist means. Some of the challenges Serge Attukwei Clottey faced as a beginner in the world of art were finding public spaces to perform, and even after finding a space, having the access or leverage to use those spaces was a big problem.
While in conversation with Serge Attukwei Clottey I asked how he dealt with critics as also one of the challenges he faces in expressing his art and he said:
“There are always going to different takes and interest in an artistic work. And it is mostly challenging when you are an outsider. But generally, you need critics to tackle improvement. Since most of my drawings are sexual and political I am open to critics and other people’s perceptions.” He also related criticism to racism when he said:
“Racism? Yes, anyone is likely to face oppositions when you are away from home, away from people who are like you. But, racism informs my work and I try not to get caught up in all of that argument, I try to focus on what I came here to do, and if I have to comment on racism I do so using my work, the art, it speaks for itself.”
Creators of very serious art go through a lot of battles in regards to their art, permissions, critics and most prevalent is their battle with depression, especially artists who have been on the international market and have to deal with a lot of people who consider art strictly a business; it involves a lot of thinking, scheming and planning that, naturally, weighs the artist down to his/her bone marrow. I wondered, also, how Afrogallonism as an intense artist has been able to handle depression.
“I handle my depression with the art; I take a sketch pad, a pencil and let my mind go to work. Most of my drawings are relief strokes and ideas.”
Speaking of art, staring obsessively at Afrogallonism’s art there is an array of random thoughts that come to life in form of drawings in drawings and pictures in pictures, strokes, slashes and lines connecting to one another like support beams for the piece. It is always more than one expression in a single piece drawn to life by Serge Clottey Akwutei, whose signature style of charcoal emotional intensity mirrors a Jean Basquiat and Picasso type code to the shapes and lines.
These ideas put together are what make Serge Attukwei Clottey a manipulative artist who, at the same time, tries his best to make his art easier for non-artists to adapt to and understand.
“I try to give control back to the people by sharing a lot of my creative processes on social media, also as a means to change the perspective of how people see art or how they understand it,” He said, in regards to people understanding his art and where such ideas come from.
One can hardly say, or give a correct answer to the dynamism of art, or where it will be in five years’ time because Art shifts focus based on its market, investment and attention paid to it. Art has focused on Asia; all of Europe and finally it has shifted focus back to Africa, which is the home and mother of all creations. African Art has been involved in and will now be involved in a lot of opportunities’ that creates room for more artistic development, and with Afrogallonism as one of the African pioneers.
Fetaured image credit: Ashantiimmigrant