11th  December 6 pm
(until May 1st 2022)

The Pino Pascali Foundation is pleased to announce that the Pino Pascali Award 2021 – 23rd Edition- has been granted to Ibrahim Mahama (Tamale, Ghana 1987).

The jury, headed by Rosalba Branà, director of the Pino Pascali Foundation, Adrienne Drake, director of the Giuliani Foundation for Contemporary Art in Rome, and Nicola Zito, art historian and curator of the Pino Pascali Foundation, have explained their decision as follows:

Ibrahim Mahama, a young artist from Ghana, has been playing an important role in the international art scene for the past few years. His main focus is on the human condition, on nomadism, on migrations and people’s exploitation.

His art has strong political connotations. Mahama contaminates art language from site specific installations to photography and assemblage, with the intention of making the audience reflect upon the failures of modern society.”

The exhibition will be held in Exchiesetta, an iconic art space in the centre of Polignano a Mare which also hosted the first editions of the Pino Pascali Award from 1969 to 1979. A piece by the artist will be displayed on the street window from where people will be able to admire it 24 hours a day.

Mahama was born in 1987 in Tamale, capital of the northern Ghana region that counts half a million inhabitants and where he currently lives and works. On the 10th of December he will receive the Prince Claus Award 2020 in Amsterdam, a prize given to those artists who have distinguished themselves for their application of culture to social development.

A recurrent element of his artwork is the hessian sack. This is used as a metaphor of a fragile economy, based on cocoa production. The sack,which is stamped, torn and patched up, becomes an amplifier through which Mahama tells the stories of people who work between the harbours, warehouses, markets and the city centres.

The sack becomes stratification of memories, people, objects, places and architectures. It is a symbol of the problems afflicting the African continent and its migration, of the complex dynamics of globalization. Produced in South East Asia, hessian sacks are imported by the Ghana Cocoa Boards to transport cocoa beans, which are considered luxury goods. After being used this way, the sacks are repurposed many times to transport goods such as rice,millet, corn and coal. Mahama purchases them when they have exhausted their life cycle and can no longer be used to transport goods. He then sews them together to create huge tapestries that he uses also to hide monumental and iconic buildings of consumerist society, as he has done in some recent well known installations that have also been displayed in Italy.

I am interested”, Mahama explains, “in the artistic and political implications of these materials . What happens when you collect different objects from places that tell particular stories and memories and you put them together to form a new object? I am fascinated by how crisis and failure are absorbed by this material while at the same time creating a strong reference to global transactions and the ways in which capitalistic structures work. (…) I hope that what is left of them, stained, torn and abandoned but at the same time radiant – can lead us to new possibilities and spaces”.

The exhibition is a collaboration with APALAZZO Gallery in Brescia, which represents the artist in Italy.

Ibrahim Mahama was born in 1987 in Tamale, Ghana. He studied painting and sculpture at Kwame Nkurumah University in Kumasi and graduated in 2013. His university years mark the beginning of a series of activities that reflect upon issues such as globalization of labour and of movement of goods, with artworks that he developed in collaboration with Ghanaian people.

Mahama currently lives and works between Accra and Tamale, where in 2019 he inaugurated the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), a gallery run by a group of artists and curators who work in Ghana. This was followed in September 2020 by the opening of the art space Red Clay, a vast complex in the nearby town of Janna Kpeŋŋ. Both art spaces include galleries, research facilities and residence for artists, and represent Mahama’s contribution to the development of contemporary art in his country. In April 2021, Mahama opened a renovated silo, Nkrumah Volini, in Tamale. This is the third art space that Mahama has created in the north of Ghana in the last two years.

His work has been presented at numerous international exhibitions such as NIRIN, the22nd Sydney Biennale (2020); Stellenbosch Triennale (2020); Living Grains, Giuliani Foundation (Rome, 2019); Future Genealogies, Tales From The Equatorial Line, 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, Democratic Republic of Congo (2019); Parliament of Ghosts, The Whitworth, Manchester University (2019); Labour of Many, Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2019); Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017); An Age of Our Own Making, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen and Holbæk (2016); Fracture, Tel Aviv Art Museum, Israel (2016); Artist’s Rooms, K21, Düsseldorf (2015); Material Effects, The Broad Art Museum, Michigan (2015).

Mahama also took part in two editions of the Venice Biennale, in 2019, May You Live in Interesting TimesGhana Freedom, first Ghana pavillion, 58th Venice Biennale; and in 2015, in the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, All the World’s Future, during which he presented the great site specific installation Out of Bounds, made of hessian bags at the Venetian Arsenal.

Ibrahim Mahama

Pino Pascali Award– 23rd Edition

11th December 2021 6pm (until May 1st 2022)

Pino Pascali Foundation

Via Parco del Lauro, 119

Polignano a Mare

Opening Hoursfrom Wednesday to Sunday from 4pm to 8pm.

Closed to the public on 24th, 25th and 31st December 2021


Via Porto, Polignano a Mare
+39 3201122513