The Rubell Museum in Miami, which will open its new 100,000-square-foot space in the city’s Allapattah neighborhood on December 4, has been known for jumpstarting the careers of young artists with its coveted residency program supported by the Knight Foundation. Sterling Ruby, who has gone on to have his works shown in major exhibitions like the Whitney Biennial and to sell for over $1 million at auction, became the first artist-in-residence in 2011 (and, coincidentally, will have a show this December at the ICA Miami). In past years, the institution has also showcased works by Oscar Murillo, Lucy Dodd, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Cy Gavin, Sonia Gomes, and Allison Zuckerman during Art Basel Miami, drawing international crowds and providing a kind of exposure that can be game-changing—not least on the market.
This year, the Vienna-based, Ghana-born painter Amoako Boafo has been named as the first artist-in-residence at the new Rubell Museum (formerly known as the Rubell Family Collection), where he is working on new paintings that will be featured in the institution’s inaugural exhibition, in their own gallery. The news was first announced at the Independent Curators International annual benefit and auction in New York last month, where the artist’s painting Yaw Abedi (2019), for which bidding began at $10,000, sold for $46,000 to a bidder bidding through the website Artsy.
Boafo, who is represented by Mariane Ibrahim gallery (of Chicago) and Roberts Projects (Los Angeles), is best known for his vibrant portraits set against single-color backgrounds. He has said of his work, “The primary idea of my practice is representation, documenting, celebrating and showing new ways to approach blackness.”
“He creates a background with a classical technique, using brushes, but then the actual body of the subject is all finger painted,” Mera Rubell told ARTnews of Boafo’s paintings. “It’s very mysterious the way in which he captures the most powerful human expressions with just his fingers moving on the canvas.”
The market is already catching on to Boafo’s work. At the FIAC fair in Paris in October, Ibrahim sold Boafo’s Monica (2019) for $18,000. The Art Newspaper reported in October that Boafo’s paintings had been “a FIAC talking point” throughout the course of the fair, and Ibrahim told the publication that he “has a very strong U.S. market, and we wanted to bring him to Europe for the first time.” Ibrahim will present the artist’s work in the Nova section of Art Basel Miami in December
Earlier this fall, at Expo Chicago in September, Ibrahim reportedly sold Boafo’s portrait of the Cameroonian musician Steve Mekoudja to the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College. The artist’s paintings are also part of the Albertina Museum Vienna’s collection.
Boafo’s work has figured in a number of high-profile exhibitions. In January, the artist had a solo show, titled “I SEE ME,” at Roberts Projects, which was reviewed in the LA Times, and he has previously exhibited at Brasil House in Ghana, the Kunsthalle Vienna, and the Viennese art space We Dey xSpace. This summer, his paintings figured in a presentation curated by Nina Chanel Abney at Jeffrey Deitch in Los Angeles, which also included pieces by Jordan Casteel, Tschabalala Self, Lauren Halsey, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, and others.
Update 11/13/19, 5:55 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect that Yaw Abedi sold for $46,000, not $43,000.