“In my work, I investigate a myriad of possibilities by combining text and image in carefully balanced compositions. This integration is a significant element in my work. I am interested in the interplay of positive and negative spaces and employ them in compositional arrangements either in colour or black and white… Painting to me is a form of dialogue. It entails more than mere image-making for decoration. It involves the artist interrogating his environment and the general taken-for-granted attitudes of society. For me, it touches everything – political to spiritual, personal to social.”

Ghanaian artist and teacher Papa Essel creates a solo exhibition, commissioned by Modern Painters, New Decorators. Papa creates image and text-based paintings, combining newspaper headlines, proverbs, textile patterns and adinkra symbols. He is inspired by urban spaces including barbershop signs, market culture and traffic signals. Papa’s work explores a network of themes around Africa's relationship with the West. He has lived and worked in Kumasi, Ghana and Hull, UK and is currently based in Bromley, London. The project is funded by Arts Council England, Leicestershire County Council and Charnwood Borough Council.

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