Aboah’s paintings record the visceral immediacy of touch through intimate, enigmatic, and unmediated mark-making. Her monochromatic works on paper employ the artist’s own body as both the painting tool and the printing plate. Covering her body in ink, the artist presses herself onto paper spread out on the floor, allowing flesh, pigment and the weight of her body to create imagery of disquieting, dysmorphic corporeality. Aboah then meticulously paints around the impressions with a velvety matte black paint that absorbs almost all light.
Aboah’s tapestries are even more laborious and precise. Unconventionally crafted from thread woven into paper, embroidered lines fan out from the body like rays of sun, creating a mesmerising interplay of texture and an undulating surface that resembles skin or, at times, even, an animal hide. In all her work, Aboah’s unique process forces her to confront her body’s edges, the tactile threshold where the skin meets the world. Yet, Aboah contorts and realigns the female form, allowing her body to transcend its confines and leave a palpable, dance-like trace of its presence.
Despite their intimate connection to her body, both the paintings and tapestries remain anonymous, devoid of recognisable faces or features. This absence emphasises how Aboah’s bodies, hands, and fingerprints – the most fundamental and inescapable markers of self – become formless, abstracted, calligraphic marks. This friction is most apparent in Self-Portrait, where three of Aboah’s inked fingerprints immediately bring to mind those taken by government authorities to mark out individuals. Her paintings are enigmatic, a Rorschach test relying on interpretations of inkblots to reveal patterns of thought. They seem to float in the shadowy territory that lies between abstraction and figuration, between body and space, using the most literal and direct means of mark-making whilst also retaining a profoundly poetic ambiguity.
Kesewa Aboah (b. 1994, London) is a Ghanaian British artist based in London. Aboah completed a BA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts, New York in 2017. Recent exhibitions include Manifold, Frieze No. 9 Cork Street (2023), Bold, Black, British, Christie’s (2021) and IRL (In Real Life), Timothy Taylor Gallery (2021). A Lightness at Incubator 23 is Kesewa Aboah’s first solo exhibition in London.