Prince Gyasi | Capturing Africa Through the Lens of an iPhone | 2019 Skoll World Forum

Prince Gyasi: Ghanaian international visual artist

Imediately upon seeing Ghanaian artist Prince Gyasi’s photo prints, one is struck by the soulful and vibrant colors. Colors are an essential element in Gyasi’s work. His vivid hues are more than aesthetically appealing because for Gyasi, “color can serve as a therapy, it can treat depression and transform emotions.”​

Gyasi is unique in many ways. This forthright artist has always been drawn to the visual arts. From an early age, Prince was exposed to photography, color, and composition. Prince, “when my mother went fabric shopping at Makola Market, she’d drop me off at this photographer’s small studio.” In high school, Prince began experimenting with photography, capturing photos of the world around him using his cellphone. Since then he has purposefully continued to create with his phone, saying, “the norm is not for everyone. I’m different and I’m stubborn. I like to challenge myself to do the same thing that traditional photographers do using just my phone” (interview, Nataal Magazine).​

Prince Gyasi is a Ghanaian international visual artist. He is the co-founder of Boxed Kids, a non-profit organization helping kids from the slums of Accra get an education. “Most visual artists tell African stories in a negative way. I want to tell these stories in a more beautiful way so that when kids see them, they feel inspired.” Using bold colors to convey emotions and shine a light on marginalized people, he hopes to inspire young people through his art. After finishing his secondary education at Accra Academy Senior high school in Accra, Prince started taking pictures in 2011.

He bought his first iPhone in 2014 which became the primary tool he uses in creating his art pieces. He began with snapshots of friends, family, and models from his hometown of Ghana and then realized he could seriously use his phone as an instrument of creation and as a means of expression. Using an iPhone to shoot is a way to distinguish his art from other visual artists and photographers and in doing so he breaks the codes of this singular and elitist art. His work is about conveying feelings through colors and giving the floor to marginalized people that are often left aside in society. Prince considers his use of vibrant colors as a therapy to his audience and aims at leaving a “strong, positive imprint on the people’s heart and soul.” Some of his most poignant themes include motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood.

Prince creates images that are bold, hopeful, and tell the stories of marginalized individuals who are often pushed aside in society. Most of his images are created in his hometown of Accra, using the surrounding landscapes and community as his muse. Each hyper colorful print reveals fundamental human emotions that are tied in with a person’s life such as fatherhood, motherhood or childhood. Using his iPhone, Prince captures both resiliency and strength through his striking silhouettes placed against brightly altered landscapes and vivid backgrounds. His art showcases the nobility and grace of black skin, offering viewers a counter-narrative to dominant notions of beauty.​

Community is important to Prince. In addition to being a professional artist, he is the co-founder of BoxedKids, the title referring to “kids who are trapped in a place or situation,” which helps underprivileged children from Jamestown, Accra. Since the start of this foundation, Gyasi has collaborated with kids from this area, bringing creativity to their lives as well as setting up funds for their education, “so they can make a better future for themselves” (interview, Sukeban Magazine).​

Prince Gyasi was signed to Nil Gallery Paris in 2018 and had a solo show at the gallery in November 2018. His works have also been exhibited at the Seattle Art Fair 2018, the Pulse Miami Beach Contemporary art fair, and the Investec Cape Town art fair. In December, Vanity Fair included Prince Gyasi in their article “9 of the Most Exciting Artists to Follow from Miami Art Week 2018,” rating him as number five out of nine.​

In December 2018, he worked with Apple Inc. on a project in Ghana entitled “A Great Day in Accra.” The documentary highlighted the HipLife music scene in Ghana. In this project, he shot Ghanaian HipLife musicians like Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Reggie Rockstone, and Okyeame Kwame, among others.Most recently, in March, Prince was interviewed about his art by BBC World and BBC Africa.​

Prince currently lives and works in Accra, Ghana.
Check out some of Prince’s photographic series’ here.

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