Samuel Ashon is holding a June exhibition at the Golden Tulip. The works are exhibited in the arts section of the hotel and is on until the end of June. Ashon journey which led him to pictorial batiks has been an interesting one and in this article I am sharing a little more of that with you to help you understand the works and the man that is Samuel Ashon.
For as long as he can remember S. Ashon has been into painting. It began with art in infancy and transgressed to a study of Rural Art, he majored in textiles, sculpture and minored in ceramics at the Kwame Nkrumah University. It taught Ashon that art is accessible from many materials and with creativity one can achieve what one wants. Like a lecturer once told me “with imagination you can achieve anything”. Ashon attended La Presbyterian School and was fortunate to have a teacher with an interest in the visual arts who encouraged him to pursue his dream. After his O’levels he went to work at the lands department where he decided to redo his O’levels studied by himself and did much better.
It was in the sixth form that he decided to take art seriously and make it his profession. After he gained entry into KUNST where he was advised by lectures to go back and redo his A-levels in order to return and do a degree instead of the diploma he had started. But Ashon had already paved his way in his mind to finish is diploma and go abroad to do a masters degree. (Mr Ashon is an example of many who have diploma and Ghana who want to leave the country to better themselves in education because the Ghanaian system of having to start university from scratch although they have an HND or diploma. Abroad it is not so, and Ghana is loosing a lot of skill due to this. Recently it has been revised in some polytechnics but it is still a subject needing much attention.) But after
His diploma he arrived at the Centre for National culture where he did a year of national service. Coincidentally there was a workshop on pictorial batiques and himself and also a few of the men on their service took it on. After the workshop was over Ashon ask his fellow workmates to peruse in the pictorial batiques; to substitute their wages also. The Craft shop at the Arts Centre sold their work and they gained profit. Later a few of his fellow workmates stopped the project. The next set up was to set up a studio at home pursue pictorial batique. Ashon had chosen his route partly out of necessity because the equipment for ceramics and sculpture was more than he could afford at the time. And so he bought his bowls, dyes and calico and has not looked back since. Working with the Centre for National Culture (former Arts Centre), led Ashon to stay in Ghana and he is now the deputy director at the Centre.
Ashon’s works of pictorial batiques are rare, there are those who pursue this art in Ghana but not to the standard S.Ahson has taken it. His “aim is to achieve a result that oil paint can achieve”. And he gets it. His subject matters are of market women, sunsets, buildings and portraits. As an artist he appreciates "the from" of a woman (he laughs after saying this) and he observes it for his work. Or so he saids; it is something you hear a lot of artists chant. Also S. Ashon is close to his mum and lived near Malata market where he went to observe all the batik materials and textures of cloth he could see. Also seeing all those market women, working hard gave him a sense of respect for women as he saw them as part of the backbone of our society. Therefore, Ashon likes to pay tribute to Ghanaian women in his works. The work of the “market women file” is an example of the forms of women Ashon was talking about. Also the scene of “canoes” is one you would see in a typical fishing village. The best thing about that scene is you see it as a real (stereotypically like oil or acrylic painting) painting.
Ashon’s pursue of pictorial batique makes him unique in Ghana. I so far have not seen another artist who works like him and to his level of skill. He has contributed had exhibitions around the world and led others have commented on it rarity. Perhaps there are only about three or so artists in the world who do what Ashon does. He has his June exhibition on now at the Golden Tulip, along with fellow artists Owusu-Antwi and Larry Otoo. There is a rotation of Ashon’s works so it may be worth one or two visits. Ashon along with his works is an inspiration of his fellow Ghanaians, he shows you can make it by staying in Ghana as well as becoming a world candidate of his skill; Art.