Kwesi Botchway is one of Ghana’s young, upcoming artists; his latest inspiration is old age. Today, his model is Sarah Labi, a 90-year-old retired teacher.
For the last two years, Botchway has been working on a series called “Age of no return.”
Paintings for the collection have already featured in exhibitions in the United States, South Africa and parts of Europe.
I have seen young people throwing insults to the older people and not giving them the much respect that they needed which for me I think they should be our role models.
Twenty four-year-old Botchway started drawing while still at school. What seemed like a distraction from books at the time, turned out to be a talent that developed when he went to art school.
“It all started when I was in primary, I used to sketch a lot, like I don’t focus on reading much. I used to sketch a lot like, I feel like I was having a lot of love for drawing. So when going to school I used sketch my teacher while she was teaching, everytime she would be like Kwesi, you don’t learn, so she felt that the love for art was so much for me, so after my GHS, she was like, I have to go to an art school,” he said.
Botchway grew up in Nima, a slum in Accra where he drew inspiration for his earlier works. He has done a series on the physically disabled and vulnerable children.
He says the focus on the elderly is hopeful and an appreciation of their wisdom and contribution to society, which is often taken for granted.
“Well, I had the idea of “Age of No Return” series whilst living with my family because I grew up in a very big compound house where I saw a lot of old people and also with a lot of young generation. Well, I have seen young people throwing insults to the older people and not giving them the much respect that they needed which for me I think they should be our role models. These should be people that we should look up to, these should be people we should learn so much from, because they have lived life with experience,” he said.
Botchway also specializes in portraits – saying the face – particularly the eyes bring him so close to his subject that he can relay their emotions on canvas.