Happy Birthday
signed, inscribed and dated 'AMOAKO BOAFO 2019 KING' (centre); signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMOAKO BOAFO 2019 KING' (on the reverse)
oil on paper
38 x 27½in. (96.5 x 70cm.)
Executed in 2019
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Lot Essay

The Ghana-born artist Amoako Boafo counts contemporary painters Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Kerry James Marshall and Kehinde Wiley among his influences. His portraits’ incandescent, graphic qualities have earned him comparisons to Egon Schiele – since 2014, Boafo has lived and worked in the Expressionist’s hometown of Vienna, Austria, where his works have recently joined Schiele’s in the collection of the Albertina Museum. On a conceptual level, Boafo also sets his paintings in deliberate dialogue with Old Masterly portraits of royalty and power: associations he highlights by clothing his dignified subjects in bold, lavish fabrics, and by prominently signing his works with the boxed signature ‘KING’.

Boafo’s fluid strokes and vital colours embody the dissolving of stereotypes that lies at the heart of his approach. The regal, elegant figures he depicts are vitally present, but they are far from rigid: Boafo’s lucid technique conveys the dynamism of authentic, individual life, and rejoices freely in the richness of human connection. As he has put it, ‘the primary idea of my practice is representation, documenting, celebrating and showing new ways to approach blackness’ (A. Boafo, quoted in V. L. Valentine, ‘Amoako Boafo is Latest Young Black Artist to Make Major Auction Debut’, Culture Type, 11 February 2020).

Alive with vivid colour and feeling, Happy Birthday (2019) exemplifies the boldness and beauty of Boafo’s portraiture. Framing him in headshot close-up against a white backdrop, the artist has modelled his subject’s face with sensitive, nuanced strokes of his fingertips; marbled touches of inky blue, umber and pink create a tactile depth of hue and texture that is charged with life. His patterned top, its bright yellow as luxuriant as the silks of a royal portrait by Holbein or Van Dyck, only heightens his splendour. The painting, after all, is a celebration.

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