Ghanaian African artist Ti Jay first became known through True African Art, having his art branded by us originally in 2011. Ti Jay's paintings and prints are no longer sold here as he markets them on his own now, though you can find us at art shows.
Artist Ti Jay speaks about his host, True African Art, and our place in the Harlem Fine Arts Show at Riverside Church in New York City. Video produced and edited by Tamika Cody.
We wrote the below transcript from Ti Jay about his style and reason for making original contemporary African paintings.
True African Art: Being from Ghana, would you say there are differences between West and East African paintings?
Ti Jay: Both the East and West parts of the continent pay homage to African art paintings by reflecting our heritage, but East African art, from what I have studied and seen, is more figurative and hold much brighter colors. Western Black art paintings often display more bland colors, dirt like at times, to reflect our Mother Earth, our Mother Africa. The differences in location between East and West have evolved to a different style of Black African art, but we are all African artists, so in many regards, our recent contemporary art tends to ride upon the same themes and subjects in terms of content, and that is of our homeland and people. Travel and communication advances in Africa over the past 25 years have definitely bound us together more so than in the past, so the sharing of cultures results in us also sharing our African paintings styles and techniques. So we are more of the same than different.
What would you say to the people who would be seeing your African paintings for the very first time, say in a contemporary African art paintings Gallery? How would you describe your artwork to them?
What I would say to them is that the African art paintings they are seeing is me: it is a true reflection of what I think, what I have seen and what I have heard from residing in Africa for my whole life. I would also tell them that I paint what I feel from what I hear. For example, a conversation I have with someone may give me a picture of a painting. What I have heard from that person, whether a story, an idea, or an opinion translates into a feeling that I, in turn, translate into African paintings on canvas. Then what I try to do in each and every painting of mine is add a touch of my imagination and experience in Africa, using symbols and designs to draw them out. And that is what completes the painting and what they will see here on True African Art.com.
In the beginning of my career as an African artist, I was attentive to scenes, like market scenes or portraits. I didn't paint what I would see everyday. Now, most of the time I see in my mind at night what I saw in the day. If I don't see these things then, then I see them when I sleep or I see it immediately after I wake up. So I try to paint those things. So by the time I roam about in my daily routine or more often at the end of the day, I sit down and reflect over all the places I've been to. And you see the paintings that come out.
When you paint, do you have the finished picture in your mind or does that come out as you go along?
Most of the time as soon as I start painting the finishing of it forms in my mind. It's usually not there from the start. But I do see the beginning of it or its middle in my mind beforehand. Then I see the end as I paint.
How do you nurture your talent today? What do you do to keep it up and going?
I nurture it by both practicing fashion design and by simply painting. I started with painting then later I chipped into it with fashion. So I try to divide my time: From morning I usually meet with my fashion friends, and in the night I spend my time painting. When I get to a point where I cannot go further, then I have to stop working.
To get an idea of the skill you employ, how many paintings do you produce in a month?
I can make at least five paintings in a month. But when I am in the mood I can complete sometimes more than 10. It's the mood that inspires me to work.
How did people who have your paintings in private collections in the USA and Europe, how did they find you?
I had an exhibition in the Museum of Ghana, where I sold 30 paintings, within 2 weeks and about 20 of them went to travelers. My paintings rarely sit long enough to have to be put in a contemporary African art gallery where they have paintings for sale, so my artwork gets sold now through clients and the networking in Africa I have made over the past several years. Now with True African Art.com, I will have a different audience all the time and I hope my work is inspiring to them. To have the change of my paintings from Africa very easily now expand outside of my borders is an exciting opportunity for me.
What do you hope to achieve with your Black African art?
I want to come forward in this profession as one of the most successful African artists of my time. That dream came to initiation the moment I started Art College. I came out awarded as the College's best African painter for the year 2001. I hope that the art I am making now will resonate long after I am gone.
What final thing would you want your audience to know about you and your African art paintings for sale?
I would like to thank in advance those who purchase any of my African paintings. In doing so they are owning something that is very personal to me that I have passed on to them as a gift, an investment that I have made not only for myself, but for the sake of contemporary African art to be shared and enjoyed throughout all corners of the world. In doing so, we as true African artists hope that our Black art throughout generations will become priceless to the owners they are passed onto.
Ti Jay does not pretend that everyone will love the personal creativity he expresses through his art, but, whatever you like, it is a fact that Ti Jay shows the promise of a future made certain by being one of Ghana's most applauded young African artists. He is one of the few who is respected as holding a challenging standard for other African painters by being a leading catalyst for excellence in contemporary Black Art.
Other Ghanaian African artists original paintings for sale.
Some SOLD Paintings to see
"My Wedding Portrait"
"Le Noir Est Beau"