Three years ago, the Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo was the breakout star of Miami Art Week, with dealer Mariane Ibrahim selling out her solo stand of his paintings at Art Basel in Miami Beach while the newly opened Rubell Museum Miami fêted him with a solo exhibition following a residency there. This year in Miami, Boafo is back and making a subtler power move: his painting Brides Reflection (2021) will be shown for the first time in the Gagosian stand, signaling a new partnership with the world’s biggest gallery ahead of a solo exhibition (Boafo’s first in New York) at its Madison Avenue headquarters in March 2023.
Gagosian chief operating officer Andrew Fabricant is quick to note that the gallery is not representing Boafo—for now. “The idea was, let’s have a date before we get married,” Fabricant says.
He also acknowledges the extreme conditions that have defined Boafo’s market up to now, with works moving from the primary market to the auction block at whiplash velocity. “You can’t correct what’s already transpired, and there has been a lot of activity, rightly or wrongly, around his work, but going forward, it’s really to whom you’re selling the work more than the price that’s being achieved. What’s been happening at Gagosian within the last three years, where our artists are really being pinpointed to the right collections now much more so than in the past, he understands that it’s going to be a very strategic move—we’re not going to have stuff moving out the back door, we’re not going to sell indiscriminately. I think he understands that at this point in his career that is absolutely necessary.”
Boafo’s painting—an unusual double-portrait featuring a solitary figure reflected in a mirror and rendered in his trademark wet paint style—was acquired by an unnamed American museum, according to a Gagosian spokesperson, for an unspecified price.
The gallery is also debuting another work by a new collaborator in Miami: an appropriately tropical, seven-ft-tall painting of a palm tree, Untitled (2022), by the Belgian artist Harold Ancart, who joined Gagosian’s artist roster last July. The work takes up a motif he has painted—Bernard Lagrange of Gagosian Art Advisory points out that the Rubells in Miami and the Fondation Beyeler in Basel both own palm tree paintings by Ancart—but also calls back to his predecessors, with its explosion of colourful palms set against a heavily worked ground.
“His biggest heroes are the American abstract painters of the 1950s and 60s, whether it’s Barnett Newmann, Helen Frankenthaler or Joan Mitchell, so he’s very much thinking about them when he makes works, but obviously there’s a clear a referential element to it,” Lagrange says.
Like Boafo’s work on the Gagosian stand, Ancart's work has been pre-sold and is a teaser for his first solo show with the gallery, opening in May 2023 at one of Gagosian's Chelsea locations in New York.