The Ghanaian artist’s famous Dior collab + beyond


Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Images: Instagram

Dior Men’s Spring 2021 collection – dropped as a lookbook with accompanying documentary in July – was a collaboration between the house designer Kim Jones and contemporary artist Amoako Boafo. Jones grew up country-hopping Africa with his father, who was a particular fan of Ghana. And so, in tribute to his recently deceased father, Jones sought out a collaboration with a Ghanian artist. Visiting Boafo’s studio, Jones spotted the painting The Green Beret of a man wearing a green ivy print shirt that drew parallels to Monsieur Dior’s aesthetic. And the deal was sealed.


Boafo, whose use of complementary block colours and texture translated into a beautiful contemporary menswear couture collection, is one of those artists whose work makes the world a better place through its social impact and progression of stagnant narratives. In a recent i-D profile, Ekow Barnes notes the artist’s nuanced portrayal of black masculinity by way of depicting “shameless vulnerability and intimacy”.

“I do portraiture and figuration,” explains Boafo in the Dior documentary, dropped alongside the collection’s lookbook. His work has gained major traction in the international art world (think Art Basel, Sotheby’s auctions, etc) for depicting a wider range of varied African experiences than what some were used to seeing in the loosely used term "African art". His ongoing Black Diaspora series stars people who work to uplift their communities by creating, as Boafo puts it in the documentary, “space for other people to co-exist”.

Boafo is using his success to create spaces for growth. Rather than take a commission from the Dior collab, he’ll be given an undisclosed sum to help build an artist residency in Accra. (He spent lockdown in his Accra studio, an experience that made him fall in love with his home all over again.) Had something like that already existed, he may not have felt the need to move to Vienna for an MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts. In the face of discrimination against “anything African” by galleries in Vienna, Boafo cofounded We Dey, an art space for local Black and queer communities. In April, he donated his painting Aurore Iradukunda to an online auction supporting the Museum of the African Diaspora – it sold for just over R3 000 000.


The distinctive characteristics of Boafo portrait include a block-colour background, employed to keep the attention on the subject, and the dynamically textured effect used to portray the subject’s skin. The latter is achieved by finger painting. Boafo was asked to appear in a friend’s music video and, wanting to keep his brushstroke technique under wraps, used his fingers. It was a happy accident: the resulting effect was something he’d been looking to create in his work, so he ran with it.

A sense of style is something that attracts him to subjects: his work would resonate with fashion enthusiasts regardless of the Dior affiliation. Lately, Boafo’s subjects’ looks have become more dynamic, thanks to a photo transfer technique he’s added to his rotation. A printed wallpaper transfer is what resulted in the shirt that cemented the Dior collab – who knows what might happen if he changes things up again in the future. If ever there was one to watch...