Eugene Ankomah does Basquiat – with Paint Jam London


Eugene Ankomah – emerging London artist and

guest Paint Jam artist of the month, talks to us

about Basquiat, naive art and creativity…

Eugene profile pic

It’s not every day that you get an artist who shares such strong resonance with another. We spoke to London based artist Eugene Ankomah about naive art-making, art and politics, the outsider voice and the creative process. Eugene tells us what he sees in the energy and message of Basquiat’s work, and shares his own process and current body of work, revealing a strong overlap between the two artists.

We are also excited to have Eugene Ankomah run our Basquiat themed Paint Jam event  at the end of the month (28th Jan 2018), in celebration of Basquiat the artist of course, but also marking the end of the exhibition ‘Basquiat: Boom for Real’ exhibition at the Barbican – an intense and stirring show!

What’s your take on Basquiat’s work Eugene, and how does it resonate with your own?

‘Basquiat’s work shows a brave energy and makes powerful social and political statements, and I love his use of bright colour. The boldness in his art shows a lack of worry in what came out as he was creating – he accepted that whatever came up, it was all his language – in a sense his work shouts ‘this is all me’. When you think of art work about social injustice you normally think of dark colours, but Basquiat still uses a lot of bright colours…it’s almost as if he uses the colour to draw your attention, and than takes you to the darker symbolism and meaning once you’re in.

The approach I use in my art process is  ‘creativity without limitations’ – all is welcome in my work. Over the years I have worked in a whole range of art styles but at a certain point I returned to the naive. The thing that got me back into naive mark making was visiting a friend’s nursery and seeing the scribbles and ‘attempts’ I thought, ‘damn this is beautiful’ – the kids art works around the space looked like the work of an abstract, professional artist but without the mature content. I went back to the studio and decided to go back to basics, and reintegrate this energy into my own art work; I saw it as throwing myself off the cliff artistically and seeing what happens – I found it a free and refreshing way of working, which releases the fear and frees up creativity completely. That’s where interesting things happen, and where true meaning can flow. That’s why we love the work of kids, because it never loses that thing

Of course there’s the African influence too which we both share in our work – the colours, the mark making and  a certain rawness’.

Tell us about your current series of work – the Brainwave series

‘The brainwave series has a naive energy – I used a spontaneous approach with rougher lines, scratches and drips, letting it come through me in a way’

The Story of the Ghetto Boy who would become a King - Eugene Ankomah - Brainwave seriesBorn on the First - Brainwave series - Eugene AnkomahDigital Green - Brainwave Series - Eugene Ankomah

         The Ghetto Boy who would          Born on the First          Digital Green

          become a King

‘It began with me being transfixed by digital images of brain scans, an image that represents the skull or the head in a digital way. Technology essentially has a way of stripping back the outer body, and showing the brain and the skull alone – leaving no knowledge of the gender or race of the person, and in that way making them free. Free of social or racial prejudices that are experienced with a body in the world.

The process I used was to google brain scans, where I could only see the skull and brain, and did not see the person’s outer body or appearance. I would then work on top of them, which I saw as a digital collaging. I was also re-imagining the idea of collage to myself. I was also fascinated by the way the medical profession file brain scans – hospitals always file brain scans in a private folder that is never named, and always remains anonymous and private.

I have also worked with technology to manipulate what are digital images into looking like a naive painting that’s just dried. I deliberately created digital brush strokes that look naive and primitive, and enjoyed the trickery – as a commentary on our enormous immersion in technology in the modern era. Are we ever really looking at things and  people as they are in the digital world? We always need to return to the basics, as that’s what makes us really human’.

Wimbledon editionThe Story of Why - Brainwave series - Eugene AnkomahSelf portrait - brainwave series - Eugene Ankomah

    Wimbledon Edition                The Story of Why                  Self Portrait


We can’t wait to have Eugene Ankomah host our Paint Jam Basquiat event on Sun 28th Jan 2018!

If you’d like to see more of Eugene Ankomah’s art works you can visit his website





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19 Jan 2018 by daliazermon, No Comments »

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