Gideon Appah b. 1987 in Accra, Ghana is a Urban Contemporary painter whose practice was developed by a curiosity of the ‘ Baba Ijebu’, translated into English as the ‘ Fortune Numbers’.
Persons within West African culture can readily have the lotto numbers prescribed to them morning, afternoon and evening at street vendors, better referred to as the lotto kiosks, a place regularly visited by many Ghanians despite the strong influence of Christianity in West Africa.
When gambling, a ritual under strict instruction is employed by all utilizing card games, otherwise known as ‘Lotto’ or ‘Lottery’. The game which originated from Ghana, was introduced into Nigeria by a native of Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State. To win the Lotto, a gambler must play a set of numbers that tallies with what the Lotto manager brings out after the game has been closed. For a player to win, he or she must get his numbers through guess work or from a product of map reading, usually taken from selected visual stimuli in city and rural areas. Lotto demands from its players no skills or techniques, but luck and ability to forecast correctly promising wealth and fortune. Many players whom doubt their luck depend on forecasters, who themselves are veterans in the game, and are believed to have acquired the capacity to predict likely winning numbers by studying the result charts of many years. The negative effects of ‘Baba Ijebu’ in the society today are prevalent and the amount of time and money people dedicate to it without winning anything becomes a reason for concern for many youths have been rendered hopeless by the game.
Appah’s artistic practice comprises of non- preset mark making, a process in which is in no way inhibited by accurate assumptions or prescribed belief with regards to Western African practice. Appah’s artworks are the result of a continuous and uncontrolled desire to investigate how superstitious patterns of structure operate and the complexities promised by an often false promise of wealth and fortune. The result is one that is laden with anxious palimpsests and narratives of hopeful individuals from Western Africa.
Appah recently hosted his first solo exhibition in March 2017 of this year at the Absa gallery located in Johannesburg CBD as a result of being awarded as a merrit winner. Since then Gideon has participated in a group exhibition ‘Arising African Perspectives’ at Lars Christian Bode gallery in Germany; The 1:54 Art Fair in New York; Gallery 1957 in Ghana and now The Melrose Gallery.