We’re a few minutes into a WhatsApp call, and Gideon Appah is struggling to remember a dream. It’s not his own, but he pieces it together in vivid fragments. It’s a nightmare his mother had as a teenager. It involved going to a dark shoreline. A friend of hers—or maybe it was her?—jumped into the water, bobbing in the mist, subject to unknown danger. “It was really scary,” says Appah, “and I tried to paint it that way.”
Appah made the story the subject of “Her Dream of the Drain” (2018), a person-height canvas that shows a ghostly white figure suspended in a sea of striking aquamarine. Another figure, rendered more realistically, lies partially submerged at the bottom of the painting. Above, a photograph of a boy’s head—Appah’s brother—floats by on a rogue current of built-up white acrylic.
There’s a narrative here, but not a legible story. The figures, the photograph, the tactility of the materials, and the arresting color add up to a haunting, if inscrutable, atmosphere. The work is a showstopper in the 29-year-old artist’s breakout series of dreamy recollections of his childhood in Accra, Ghana. “They are my ways of listening to stories and then trying to paint them out,” he says...Click to continue reading
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