Home Magazine Emmanuel Manu Opoku: Artistic Inspiration and the Creative Process

Ghanaian artist Emmanuel Manu Opoku creates visually stunning and thought-provoking artwork that reflects his beliefs in the importance of individuality and unique artistic expression. Drawing inspiration from everyday life and cultural symbols, his work challenges viewers to consider their own perceptions of the world around them and invites individual interpretation and discovery.

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Emmanuel Manu Opoku is a Ghanaian contemporary artist whose artwork is deeply influenced by his observations of everyday life and ponders on the theme of identity. His work is a reflection of his beliefs in the significance of individuality and the importance of unique artistic expression. He takes advantage of every experience in his life to develop an artwork that reflects his beliefs and pays attention to the symbols of value associated with every individual.

Opoku's vision as an artist is to create work that speaks to the universal human experience while also reflecting his own identity and cultural heritage. In an interview with Kooness, he states, "I believe that art is a powerful tool that can be used to tell stories, to challenge assumptions, and to bring people together." His artwork is a testament to this belief, as he uses his personal experiences and cultural background to create works that are both personal and universal.

As an artist, Emmanuel Manu Opoku believes that it is his responsibility to be unique in his artistic practice. His creative process is inspired by the viewers who come to his exhibitions, and he pays close attention to their fascinations and comments. In his artistic process, he imagines how viewers would respond to the decisions he makes in his studio. 

He believes that the embedded sense of humor in his artworks makes the viewers active instead of passive. He recontextualizes everyday objects from their mundane settings into symbols of experiences, encouraging the viewers to read their own meanings into familiar items that tend to substitute the head, as can also be seen in his artwork below.

Emmanuel Manu Opoku, Self Portrait with Batakari, 2022. Courtesy of Emmanuel Manu Opoku Gallery

In another painting of his called “Discovery," the artist depicts a group of abstract figures or shapes that are floating in space, just as in “Self-Portrait with Batakari”, against a turquoise background. The use of these round shapes similar to the ones in “Discovery” and “Self-Portrait with Batakari” are commonly seen in his paintings and are crucial in complementing the visual complexity the artist creates. 

The title "Discovery" suggests that the painting may be intended as a journey of exploration or self-discovery. Overall, it is a visually engaging work that showcases Opoku's skill with the use of simple daily life objects to convey meaning. The painting invites the viewer to engage with the figures and explore their possible meanings, leaving room for individual interpretation and discovery. 

It is highly possible that the placement of the eyes, one among the set of objects that are placed where the head would normally be, and the other instead of the camera of the smartphone is metaphorical. A certain perception could suggest that Oppoku is trying to imply the degree of surveillance in the daily life of people with new technologies evolving every day. As in this example, the artist often invokes questions in the viewer’s mind with the use of absurdity.

Emmanuel Manu Opoku, Discovery, 2022. Courtesy of Emmanuel Manu Opoku Gallery

Emmanuel Manu Opoku's work has been positively received by critics and collectors. In 2015, Hans Obrist Ulrich commented that his art practice is great and encouraged him to continue. In 2018, during the Miami Art Basel, Hans Obrist introduced him to his colleague as a wonderful artist from Ghana, a compliment that he is always proud of.

Overall, Emmanuel Manu Opoku's artwork reflects his vision to create distinct and unique works that challenge viewers to consider their own perceptions of the world around them. His inspiration from life experiences, cultural symbols, and written texts create visually stunning pieces that are both personal and universal. His work has been positively received by critics and collectors, and he continues to explore new artistic expressions that are inspired by his observations of everyday life. As a contemporary artist, he believes that history adds unique aesthetics to art and seeks to reflect on his time while paying attention to the work of his predecessors.

Cover image: Emmanuel Manu Opoku, Touch Me, 2021. Courtesy of Emmanuel Manu Opoku Gallery

Written by Naz Akgun

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