For New York-based Ghanaian artist Dennis Owusu-Ansah, it took ‘teasing’ to trigger an inspiration that has gone on to capture the attention of not only social media but one of the world’s largest media platforms CNN.
In a full feature story, CNN described Dennis Owusu-Ansah as a Ghanaian artist whose pop art images are taking Instagram by storm.
The unique thing about his project is reworking and reimagining some of the world’s biggest celebrities in authentic African clothing and cultural attire, with the sole aim of highlighting the beauty of Africa through his work.
Talking to CNN about what sparked the drawings, Dennis stated; “after witnessing my friend get teased by a group of men for wearing a Kente cloth on our way to church, I figured something must be done to change the perspective of people who are not familiar with the African culture.
“They had no idea what my friend was wearing. One of the guys shouted ‘That man has a blanket wrapped around his body like it’s winter time.’ I saw this incident as an opportunity to educate people about who we are, and what we stand for through my art,’’ he told CNN.
With bright block colors contrasting intricate patterns, the images have transformed the likes of Drake, Rihanna and Beyonce into powerful African icons in traditional dress and with traditional names. After that life-changing moment, 26-year-old Owusu-Ansah decided that he wanted his art to tell a story and for his audience to learn, “that Africa isn’t only about what the media portrays on television,” but that it is “a continent rich in history, diversity and traditions.”
Choosing to depict celebrities trending in the entertainment business, Owusu-Ansah knows that they have an influence on their fans.
By illustrating them in African clothing, he hopes that it will bring awareness to traditional culture, and allow people to start educating themselves and those around them in African culture.
With over 12,000 Instagram followers, Owusu-Ansah’s fanbase is growing every day and he has even branched into creating unisex clothing.
His work doesn’t seem to be slowing down and neither does his audience in their quest for accessible African art, knowledge and tradition.