Atta Kwami: Maria Lassnig Prize Mural
6 September 2022 – April 2024
Serpentine North Garden
This September, Serpentine will unveil the last mural commission from the late painter, printmaker, independent art historian and curator, Atta Kwami (1956 – 2021). The mural originates from a painting that Kwami was reworking in his studio in 2021 shortly before his death, making this the final, landmark public work of his pioneering oeuvre. The commission results from Kwami winning the 2021 Maria Lassnig Prize.
DzidzƆ kple amenuveve (Joy and Grace), 2021-22, embodies Kwami’s vibrant palette and abstract painting style. It characteristically plays with the colour and form improvisations that are distinctive of Ghanaian architecture and African strip-woven textiles, especially kente, made famous by the Ewe and Asante people of Ghana. Kwami was known for painting kiosks and archway sculptures that were conceived as expanded three-dimensional paintings within different landscapes. The mural dynamically connects with the surrounding garden designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd by quoting the blues of the sky, the pinks, greens and browns from the foliage and simultaneously contrasts with its natural forms. It is a visionary response to the garden and it resonates with the planted landscape, each season and the wider environment of the park over the course of a year.
The work is painted on wood, the surface Kwami used for outdoor constructions, by the artist’s widow Pamela Clarkson, who shared a studio with him for over 30 years, and his friend, designer, Andy Philpott who collaborated on Kwami’s constructions in Amsterdam, Folkestone and Loughborough.
The mural will be accompanied by a major new book published in 2023 exploring Kwami’s prolific career, his impact on art history and his lasting legacy.