From the moment his paintings began to find an international audience, you knew that Amoako Boafo would be a star. There was a rawness and vulnerability to his portraits, a deep understanding of pattern and texture and the prominence of the subject. Perhaps it is because he paints with his fingers, but you can feel the artist care in each touch of paint to surface. In our Spring 2021 Quarterly feature on the artist, Boafo said “This lack of instrumental barrier sets me free and diffuses a barrier between myself and the subject. I am able to connect with the subject in a more intimate way, which allows me to create an expressive skin tone. I don’t think this type of stroke can be achieved by a brush.” 

I’ve found Boafo’s work to be some of the most memorable I have covered over the past decade. From Dior collaborations that seemed to catapult him to international stardom overnight, the Ghana-born painter has been able to combine textures and patterns in ways that feel wholyy original. “I’ve been to art fairs where people who don’t know anything about him gravitated to his work immediately because there’s something that touches that very human need to feel connected,” gallerist Bennett Roberts told us in that feature. “Art has a very difficult time, in this day and age, making people feel connected, because there are so many images in the world. Amoako’s work jumps over that chasm, beyond popularity, into connection. They don’t even come to life until you’re in front of them. They’re like a visual embrace.” 

This past weekend and on view through November 6, 2021, Roberts Projects in Los Angeles are presenting SINGULAR DUALITY:  ME CAN MAKE WE, a solo exhibition by Boafo “featuring new large-scale paintings that explore the tension of internal and external worlds, and of the complexities of shadow and light.” These works were made when the spotlight was shining ever so bright on Boafo’s ever work, and the fall art season was already buzzing in Southern California with this show on the horizon. Not only does it not disappoint, it reiterates what makes Boafo such a force. The gallery speaks of his “oeuvre representing and celebrating Blackness,” and it’s spot on. There are very few portrait painters who can find the humanity like Boafo can, and perhaps that is why his hands are so imporant here. He feels his subject, gestures their emotions and moves paint to express significance. The elegance is palpable. —Evan Pricco