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Thu 17 Aug 2023
Portrait of Ibrahim Mahama by Carlos Idun-Tawiah i

In the ever-evolving world of contemporary art, the luminaries who leave indelible marks often possess a distinct blend of talent, vision, and a commitment to reshaping narratives. Such is the case with Ibrahim Mahama, who has deservedly clinched the 47th spot in the Power 100 list for the most influential figures in the 2022 contemporary art world. Mahama's leap from 63rd in 2021 to his current position is a testament not only to his increasing influence but also to the potent messages embedded within his works. His dedication goes beyond individual artistry; it's about weaving the intricate tapestry of Ghana's burgeoning art scene. 

For many, the hallmark of art lies in its ability to immortalize history, to breathe life into stories long silenced. Mahama's project for Amsterdam's Oude Kerk exemplifies this ethos. By producing casts and rubbings of gravestones from the historic site, and juxtaposing them with similar impressions from the floors and walls of Dutch forts along the Ghanaian coast, Mahama crafts a poignant narrative on colonial histories. Yet, Mahama's work is not mired in the past. He intertwines the scars of colonialism with motifs of rebirth and rejuvenation. A key facet of Mahama's influence stems from his grassroots initiatives in Tamale. The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, Red Clay Studio, and Nkrumah Volini stand as pillars of his vision – not just as artistic hubs, but as epicenters for decolonial thought. Describing Nkrumah Volini as an 'institute for archaeological memories, ecological ideas/forms, and thinking future forms', it's evident that Mahama's vision is holistic, encompassing both the remnants of the past and the promise of the future.Furthermore, his commitment to 'decolonialism' shines through in the self-initiated workshops, exhibitions, and talks, particularly with the recent program titled 'Existing Otherwise – The Future of Coexistence' at SCCA. Mahama's influence, however, is not confined to Ghana.

His voice resonates in erstwhile colonial centers, exemplified by his exhibition at FRAC des Pays de la Loire in Nantes, the latest addition to a string of Western museum showcases.In celebrating Ibrahim Mahama's achievements and ascendancy in the art world rankings, we're reminded of the transformative power of art – its ability to confront historical injustices, imagine new futures, and foster global dialogues. As Mahama continues his journey, he not only elevates his craft but also beckons the world to witness the brilliance of Ghana's contemporary art scene.

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