La Foundation for the Arts
is a non-profit service organization with an unwavering commitment to advancing, realizing, and preserving the vision of emerging and unrecognized art workers and administrators in Ghana through meaningful relationships with the wider African diaspora.
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La Foundation for the Arts, 144 La Road, Accra, Ghana, (13th June – 11th July, 2024)

La Foundation for the Arts (LAFA) is pleased to announce From Soul to Humanity  a solo presentation of works created by Ghanaian artist Nana Danso Awuah-Asante  between 2018-2024. 

Co- Curated by London-born curator Chantel Akworkor Thompson and Ghanaian art professional Calvin Kwaku Ayivie, From Soul to Humanity is a retrospective that takes us on an evolutionary  journey of the artist Nana Danso Awuah-Asante- showcasing works from 2018, when the he was practicing under the moniker Artsoul Kojo, to today, diving deep into the expansiveness of his visual explorations and experimentations. A  chronological representation of  his creative ingenuity, the exhibition demonstrates the sheer versatility of an artist who can be defined only by his name: Nana Danso Awuah-Asante.

The works on display which were produced between 2018-2021, when he was known as Art Soul Kojo, are primarily paper works.  The drawings and paintings  feature the fluidly, yet confidently drawn spirits or communicators which have become a defining feature of his work. The strong definition of the mark, alongside the fluid more float-like curves of forms created hint to the fact that intuition is guiding the work.   There is a sense of both playfulness and reverence within these images, with the proverbial titles, written exclusively in Akan, imbuing the work with sanctity. One cannot help but  be aroused by the images, which provoke deep reflection as one grapples with decoding the various signs and symbols that are interwoven into the fabric of the image.

From 2021 as he transitions into signing off as Nana Danso , you witness a proliferation  of creative outcomes, and in 2022 his creativity seems to have no bounds. It is within this time period that we see the works he has titled:  Sexual Intentions. These abstract works  make up a captivating series that delves into the intricate aspects of lustful imagery through fluid movements and swirls. These abstract visual forms investigate the formation of self, illustrating how streams of fluid merge to create a new being. The series captures the formative stages of existence, right at the moment when male and female essences unite. Through these dynamic compositions, Nana Danso also represents the intense and ephemeral experience of the petite mort, bringing a profound exploration of desire and creation to life on canvas.

Art Souls Kojo, Untitled, 2018, Acrylic and Ink on Paper
Nana Danso Awuah-Asante In The Studio Painting, Fish Boy , 2023, Oil On Canvas

Following this, we’re provided a gift of friendship in these  unseen oil  paintings from a collection titled  Sauce Gumbo. The paintings celebrate the close to a decade friendship and shared experiences between artists Nana Danso and Nana Yaw Oduro. Through this collaborative project, they set out to create a powerful narrative that intertwined paintings and photographs, telling a story of their journey together as a memorial. These paintings capture the artists’ shared experiences and the emotions associated with their friendship as a means to explore the intricate journey of boys as they navigate the passage into manhood, delving into the vulnerabilities and strengths that shape their identities.

The last phase of the exhibition, bringing us into the current day, are his aptly titled ‘Wall Heads ‘. These wooden sculptures by Nana Danso, as he states, are dedicated to all ancestral leaders whose ways continue to guide the present.  They are contemporary representations  or more so  modifications of  ancestral figures once found in West African shrines. 

As well as sharing the versatility of the artist, this exhibition also follows the artist’s personal  journey towards self-actualisation as he sheds his moniker Artsoul  Kojo to step into his power as Nana Danso Awuah-Asante. After years of soul searching, he has reached a state closer to his equilibrium. The lessons he has learnt  from walking  this path he has travelled have consolidated what all Ghanaians know. Our rich history, culture and traditions are a very part of our DNA, we cannot separate ourselves from them, and it is within our names that we find certain details of our identity. Our names are a fundamental part of who we are, our past through to our future. 

Thompson states that 

‘The  idea  of the exhibition is to be able to display the full breadth of Awuah-Asante’s practice- thus the entirety of him as an artist . Thus far people have experienced him as Art Soul Kojo, which was just an essence of him. Through the work, we get to immerse ourselves in an experiential  visual representation of the personal journey Awuah-Asante has been on as he has travelled a  profoundly life changing path back to himself.

 When I first met him in 2020, I became fascinated by the ways in which his work was so permeated and imbued with our shared Akan heritage and traditions. It is evident that he is in some way  deeply connected to our ancestors and through him they are  in conversation with us. There is so much  wisdom in his work, it is  embedded into every swirl, every ebb, every flow of his brush stroked paintings and through them, we observers are not only  offered a window into his soul but we are also forced to connect with our higher selves as we ponder and interrogate further the images and proverbs  that he offers so generously.’

We can thus conclude that this exhibition is also a way of co-curators Chantel Akworkor Thompson  and Calvin Ayivie paying homage to the tenacity and unwavering desire of Awuah-Asante to preserve Ghanaian history and culture and  remain authentic despite the pressures of society.  They  believes that by delving deep down into his soul, and excavating beyond the surface, before rising up again  like a phoenix to pour out the interior of his soul onto a canvas, for us to observe, he is doing the work of the ancestors and will continue to have a profound effect on humanity and the art scene in Ghana.

An artist who thrives off the lifelong lesson of life, his work is ever-evolving, yet remains truly authentic and indicative of what lies within his soul. Whether Artsoul Kojo or Nana Danso Awuah-Asante, the work can be easily identified by his ‘observers’ – how he refers to those who engage with his work, whether by choice or by circumstance.  

Image Courtesy of Nana Danso Awuah-Asante


Nana Danso

Chantel Akworkor

Calvin Kwaku