Emmanuel ‘Yaw’ Obuobi was born in Ghana in July 1957. Graduating in Architecture from the University of Science and Technology Kumasi in 1986, Obuobi migrated to Canada to practise architecture whilst simultaneously developing his work as an artist. He experimented with different media, eliding conventional modes of form, shape, colour and texture to create an inimitable medium that paradoxically reverberates with traditional artisanal forms, yet exudes a contemporary vitality; a medium connecting the past to the present and progressing to a (re)imagined future.
His first solo work, Sankofa, was exhibited at the British Council in Accra where it provoked deep thought and attention amongst Ghana’s political classes. From here, underpinned with integrity and ancestral respect, his work has gone from strength to strength, with a series of exhibitions, including 2008’s The Phantom of the African Beat, at Washington DC’s International Visions Gallery and a portraits of HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Duchess of Cambridge received at the Buckingham Palace and Clarence House after meeting Prince Charles.
Both in form and substance, his work transcends the parameters of what it is to be an African artist, defying and contorting these constraints with his innovative form and diverse motifs. The beating pulse of his work is woven through the interplay of light and shadow, sharpness and distortion, movement and stillness. Richly layered narratives captured in his work resonate with diverse audiences across the world, particularly in Accra, London, Baltimore and Washington DC, where his work has been regularly exhibited over the past 25 years. His art is a potent reminder that, irrespective of the land in which we are grounded and rooted, the density of our experience on this planet is connected via the thread of our shared humanity. Yaw lives and works in Birmingham, England.