Isshaq Ismail

Born 1989.
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Isshaq Ismail Biography

Ghanaian artist Isshaq Ismail is known for bold, colorful paintings that explore how the social, cultural and political attitudes and conditions of contemporary life impact identity. In a style that he describes as “infantile semi-abstraction,” Ismail paints grotesquely accentuated faces and figures in vivid impasto. Employing thick, gestural brushstrokes, the artist has described his process in sculptural terms, using his brush to manipulate paint in the same way a sculptor might shape clay. Through these striking and evocative works, he aims to subvert and interrogate canonical ideas of beauty; explore themes of desire, resilience, power and hope; and, in his own words, “represent the masses and advocate for the voiceless.”

Ismail was born in 1989 in Accra, Ghana. Since graduating from Ghanatta College of Arts and Design in 2012, he has exhibited in both his native Ghana and internationally in New York, Miami, London, Dubai and Cape Town. In 2015 and ’16, Ismail was shortlisted for the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art, and in 2016, was honored as one of the Top 100 finalists at the Barclays L’Artelier Art Competition in Johannesburg. In 2019, he was shortlisted for the GUBA USA Influential Artist Award. Ismail currently lives and works in Accra, Ghana.

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