The Powerful and captivating paintings of Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe’s paintings will stop you in your tracks. Painted with such power and grace the subjects in Quaicoe’s paintings don’t ask you to interpret them but tell you who they are outright. Otis grew up in Ghana Africa and later moved to Portland Oregan in 2017 where he lives and works. Coming from Africa and moving to the United States seem to impact him and how he feels others perceive him for not only being Black but being African. However, people may perceive him he doesn’t let it get him down, he marches forward and tells the world who he is, and the subjects in his paintings do the same.
“Everyone has their own life, their own story if you listen.” Perhaps as a viewer, our role is to be silent for a moment, and listen to the stories the portraits silently tell us.” Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe (Via artillerymag.com)
His subjects often feel as if they are peering directly into your soul and we as the viewer stare back into their eyes and can feel the essence of this person. Their eyes staring right at you, their facial expressions, their posture, the subjects exude confidence. The emotions that Quaicoe can translate through paint on canvas are truly magnificent, making even myself tear up a bit. Another key component of his works is the use of clothing, some wear large cowboy hats, suits, cardigans, and everything in-between but all with a certain flair to them. This use of clothing is a closer look into the essence of the subject and ties into Otis’s cultural background and how fashion was used in Ghana.
“Our textiles have names printed on the bottom, which are like proverbs, so when people buy cloth, they look at the proverb,” he says. “If that proverb doesn’t fit their character, they don’t buy it. They go for color, design—and also the proverb.” – Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe (Via artillerymag.com)
On top of all these, we cant look over one of the most appealing aspects of his works and that’s the colors. Color for Otis is a language all it’s on with his paintings consisting of vibrant oranges, reds, and blues while the subject’s skin is painted in grayscale. The background of the paintings are thick textures of paint while the subjects are smooth, this aspect along with every other detail of his work holds meaning and power which encapsulates the viewer at first glance.
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