Francis Annan Affotey was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. After graduating from Ghanatta College of Art and Design winning Best Student of Still Life, Best Imagination and Composition, and Best Abstract Drawing awards, Annan joined the Revolution Art Organization and displayed his work in several group and solo exhibitions in Accra. In 2013, Annan helped found the African Young Artist Organization (AYAO), an organization dedicated to supporting African youth in the arts through programs and exhibitions. Annan currently lives with his wife in downtown Milwaukee.
As a child in Accra, “poses” were part of daily life. I was surrounded by women peeling oranges, carrying head pans, and braiding hair. Children played in the dirt, invented games, took care of siblings, and cooked with their mothers. I did not realize at the time how much these images or poses had a lasting impression in my mind; little did I know how important they were in revealing the “secret” joys of which millions of Africans are familiar yet to which much of the world remains blind.
I use poses to expose the paradox of everyday African life. By depicting a pose as semi-abstract, my paintings highlight both the mundane and the joy in everyday African life. Images that seem pitiful or sad to the outside world have much deeper implications. A woman feeding her family suggests pride, not inferiority. A child playing in a slum suggests friendship and imagination, not hopelessness. My artwork is meant to challenge those who only see Africa through the lenses of conflict, poverty, and corruption.
Since coming to Milwaukee, my work has explored stories with more universal themes, as I connect my past with my present. Milwaukee introduced me to many new cultures with surprising differences and even more surprising similarities to those back home. The similarities and differences have led me to use new media, new techniques, and new concepts.