ARABA OPOKU

COME HELL OR HIGH WATER
01 APRIL, 2022- 22 MAY, 2022

The subjects of my paintings generate a warped feeling that also signifies limitless flow. They directly channel the state in which my family finds ourselves: having to wake up in a dream-like state at midnight till dawn to store and preserve water, and the sleepiness that clouds your vision with dizzy spells. Ultimately, all the focus on water shortages in my community affected my life and made me and others nocturnal for the past two decades.- Araba Opoku

On view from 01 April 2022 –  22 May 2022, Araba Opoku is a Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist whose lucid abstract paintings explore her distorted concepts of memory as well as reference socio-economic issues of her home country.

Come Hell or High Water examines Araba Opoku’s lived experience of the water scarcity and rationing crisis prevalent in Accra, Ghana. Only a privileged few in Ghana’s society can afford water tanks and storage units with most people being forced to resort to waking up at midnight to fetch water daily due to lack of availability.

Opoku draws inspiration from her immediate environment by capturing streets, house backyards, objects, and the daily activities of her community. She utilizes illustrations and editing applications to bring her concepts to life from virtual arrangements to physical forms. Opoku applies multiple layers of mixed acrylic paint on the canvas, representing every documented memory, every experience of suffering and inconvenience due to water scarcity. Through subtle visual storytelling, her abstract paintings balance life and decay. In her paintings, there is a reference to the stages of water evolving, from when it is fetched and stored for a long period, to when it starts molding and becomes murky and green. Come Hell or High Water, draws attention to the relentless labor involved in fetching and storing water.

In contrast, visually, Come Hell or High Water is a display of joy and the abundance of water, characterized by the artist’s approach which involved washing the surface of her canvas with large brush strokes and watery acrylic paint. The paint drips resonate with the limitless and emancipatory nature of water. Opoku enjoys producing the regimented warped, curved grid lines of shapes that hold the pigment in place. The multiple layers of paint, distorted subjects, and text leave imprints of the consequences the water crisis has caused in the lives of so many.