The Fantastical Coffins of Legendary Ghanaian Artist Paa Joe
The James Dean Porsche is a smaller replica car that was auctioned at Bonhams and it deals with the myth of James Dean. This minature car opens up as is typical of all Paa Joe pieces. Larger Size sold at Bonhams: https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21448/lot/34/ and "Paa Joe and the Lion". An Artdocs film by Benjamin Wigley and Anna Griffin (producer), Nottingham, GB, 2016.
Born 1945, Akwapim, Ghana, Paa Joe's sculpted coffins blur the line between art and craft. Each work is carefully constructed to reflect the ambition or the trade of the person for whom it was made. They are not dead things but are instead a manifestation of and indeed an affirmation of life. The works are wholly African and are a contemporary embodiment of traditional tribal burial rituals and art practice. They link back to pre-colonial West African sculpture but also recall the pomp and extravagance of ancient Egyptian royal tombs. In contemporary western art practice the coffins recall Jeff Koons. They too are kitsch - Paa Joe, like Koons, plays with scale and with a work like the Jet, with material and commercial ostentation. The foremost sculpted coffin maker of his generation, Paa Joe apprenticed with Kane Kwei – who is credited with beginning the 20th century tradition of figurative coffins. Paa Joe's work is held in museum collections around the world including the British Museum in London.
— *Courtesy of Nadim Julian Samman; Continental Living, NEO Bankside, London, 10 October - 10 November, 2012, http://nadimsamman.com/continental-living
Signature: Signed on car
Image rights: Courtesy of Paa Joe
Brooklyn Museum 2012; Southbank,UK; 2012; Salon 94 New York, 2011; Jack bell Galley, UK, 2011; V&A museum UK, 2011; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City, 2005, British Museum in London, 200?
Thierry Secretan: Going into darkness, Hazan 1995 and Regula Tschumi: Concealed Art. The figurative palanquins and coffins of Ghana. Edition Till Schaap, Bern, 2014
Paa Joe, Ghana