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February 22, 2016 - Emerging Ghanaian satirical artist, Bright Ackwerh visited Ashesi’s Ghanaian Popular Culture class to speak to students about his paintings and the impact of his work. According to Dr. Oduro Frimpong, lecturer of the class, “Bright is a committed artist who is interested in seeing a just society. His satirical re-presentation of Ghanaian sociopolitical and religious issues is incisive, and especially relevant to the class.”

During the presentation, Bright displayed several of his pieces and touched on his motivation behind them in extending the discourse to larger audiences. “The narratives that I critique are based on the lyrics of popular music and occasionally on political events,” he said. “The music culture has a certain power to influence and inspire people and there’s always the use of double and triples entendre that provide entry points into some of the discussions that the artwork generates.”

As an artist, Bright draws inspiration from Fela Kuti and his unapologetic manner of relaying messages. “Your music should be about a revolution,” he echoed Fela. Though most of Bright’s works is directed at satirically depicting popular music, he recognizes his role as an artist in the area of citizenship. “Democracy means as a citizen you must contribute your voice, you shouldn’t just do it once every four years,” he said. “It’s a sense of responsibility that drives me to send out some of the messages. Everyone who does what they must do, or does the right thing or goes against that grain should expect some backlash. But I’ll rather try and achieve something good, than be quiet and watch bad things happen. I may not go and march in the streets, but my painting may inspire someone to march.”

Popular art is significant in the way it is able to communicate varying messages to different demographics. “The importance of popular art, in the vein of Bright’s satirical works, lies in how first, it pushes a further discussion of thorny issues in a humorous context,” Dr. Frimpong said. “Another impact of such works is related to how they allow varying audiences, both formally literate and illiterate, to access and debate current issues in Ghana.”  

 

[One of Bright's most recent pieces]