Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Ibrahim Mahama

Artist - Keystone of the year’s biggest biennials and building infrastructure for Ghana’s thriving art scene

6 in 2023

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Photo: Carlos Idun-Tawiah

In the biggest arts events of the year it was hard to miss Mahama’s work. A monumental tapestry, A Tale of Time/Purple Republic (2023), pressed through a loom and featuring handwoven smocks, was one of the most spectacular commissions of the Sharjah Biennial, while the Bienal de São Paulo’s curators used Parliament of Ghosts (2019) – a field of clay vessels, a forum of brick-constructed bleachers and a long stretch of Ghana’s colonial-era railway tracks – to introduce their anti-imperialist agenda. A different iteration of the work, made from old train seats, was a major feature of the Venice Architecture Biennale, while KWAKU MINOONA 2 (2012–19), featuring bartered cloth from Ghanaian markets, could be found at Art Basel. Having judged the Samdani Art Award in Dhaka in February, he had a whole biennale to play with as artistic director of the 35th Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts in September. But beyond his own art, Mahama’s influence extends through the multifaceted institutions he operates near his home city of Tamale: Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, Red Clay Studio and Nkrumah Volini.

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