Kenneth Aidoo

Kenneth Aidoo. Troto Bako, 2023.

Black imagination is a common thread in the work of Kenneth Aidoo (1988). He painted portraits of Black soldiers who fought in the First World War, of unknown Black saints, and of Black people who came to Europe during the Middle Ages. He is interested in the unrecorded stories of these forgotten people — stories that were excluded from mainstream Western history. Through his portraits, Aidoo wants to paint these people back into history, as it were, and give their stories the attention they deserve. In this process, the artist is also turning to the present. He asks himself what it means to be Black in this day and age, and rebels against stereotypical images of Black people within the context of poverty, violence, and oppression. Aidoo instead focuses on the pride, the abundance, and the everyday.

Shown at Prospects, his new paintings were inspired by Tro-Tros, Ghanaian minibus taxis. In the absence of regular public transportation, these privately owned transport services were set up by the Ghanaians themselves. The minibuses are often decorated with colourful, spiritual slogans. To Aidoo, the Tro-Tro represents the resourcefulness and self-reliance of the Ghanaians, who always take matters into their own hands. Aidoo: “The Tro-Tros have striking colours and by capturing these colours I want to pass on this story of Ghana and of other African nations.”

Text: Esther Darley

Translation from Dutch to English: Marie Louise Schoondergang