With about 16k followers on Instagram, 26 year old Dennis Owusu-Ansah is gradually attaining the status of a celebrity artist. For the young artist, everything is a canvass, including clothes and shoes. He also does a lot of artwork on fabric and leather.However, it’s not his clothing line that is currently getting him all the attention, but his recent series of paintings which feature African-American celebrities in African cultural attires with names to match.
In this unique series of paintings, Rihanna is depicted as a Southern African woman from the Zulu tribe, Nicki Minaj, as a Ghanaian with the name, Nicki Maame Akua Amponsah, Jay Z is Ibo, from Nigeria, and Drake is Fulani with the name Aubrey Drake Abdul-Salam Graham.
Owusu-Ansah told CNN that his objective for creating this collection was “to change the perspective of people who are not familiar with the African culture,” an idea conceived after he witnessed his friend being teased by a group of men for wearing Kente. “They had no idea what my friend was wearing,” he said. According to him, one of the men thought the ‘Kente’ was a blanket, and made fun of him saying “That man has a blanket wrapped around his body like its winter time.”
Anybody could have taken that the wrong way, but the Ghanaian artist saw it as an opportunity to educate people on the African culture, particularly the fabrics, and what better way to do so than with painting.
Also, the 26 year made the smart choice of ‘depicting celebrities’ because of their influence, using this medium reach a larger audience. But more than anything, Owusu-Ansah’s work is showing the beauty, richness and diversity among cultures of the continent.
Some of his latest work in this series feature Legendary activist and political leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama depicted as African traditional rulers, and the famous reality star Kim Kardashian in Kente, with her husband, Kanye West bearing the name, Alhaji Kanye Tanko West, to match his Dansiki attire.
The young artist revealed to a local South African newspaper that he plans to add other superstars like the late king of pop, Michael Jackson, and top American comedian, Kevin Hart. Surely, his fans cannot wait to see what traditional attires they will be wearing. With his growing fan base on social media, a new clothing line – Densah Collection, and an increasing pool of media attention, Dennis Owusu-Ansah is definitely one African creative to watch out for this year.