Ataa Oko Addo

Coffin artist, sculptor and painter (1919 – 2012) from Ghana

The artist Ataa Oko Addo  (1919 – 2012), normally called only Ataa Oko, was born in 1919 in the coastal town of La in Ghana and grew up there without schooling. He spent his youth working as a fisherman before completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter in Accra between 1936 and 1939. Ataa Oko began producing figurative coffins as early as 1945. Since these sorts of works were still very unusual in the 1950s, he quickly rose to fame throughout the entire coastal region of Ghana. Today, Ataa Oko is considered a pioneer of Ghanaian coffin art.

In 2006, under the commission of Regula Tschumi, and supported by various carpenters, he produced his first figurative coffin for a western art museum. From 2004 onwards, always commissioned by Regula Tschumi, the artist dedicated himself mainly to drawing. Thus, up until his death in the year 2012, an unusual collection of graphic works emerged, part of which now belongs to the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne.

Ataa Okos work, coffins and drawings, were exhibite in many art exhibitions. For the first time in the Kunstmuseum Berne in 2006/7, then he had a solo show in the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne in 2010. More group exhibitions followed in various museums, the last was in the Kunsthalle Hamburg in 2020 where his drawings were shown in the exhibition Mourning. On Loss and Change.

More about Ataa Oko’s life:

 

Regula Tschumi (ed.): Ataa Oko AddoEdition Clandestin 2021.

 

Wikipedia

 

Film from the CAB: Ataa Oko and the spirits