Philip Kwame Apagya

Francis, 1996/2003

Philip Kwame Apagya (Ghanaian, born 1958), Francis, 1996/2003, chromogenic print, 27 1/4 x 19 1/2 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 2004.4. © Philip Kwame Apagya.

Philip Kwame Apagya studied photojournalism at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. In 1982, he opened his own studio in Shama, on the west coast of Ghana. For his studio portraits, Apagya photographs his subject in front of a painted backdrop he constructs that portrays the sitter’s aspirations. Apagya explains: “I have always tried to find out what my clients like best, what they dream of, what they desire, their aspirations—particularly for the future: love, job, prosperity, a home of their own, everything that is prestigious and beautiful. I cannot but repeat that beauty is our business.” In this photograph, a boy named Francis pretends to lean against a painted image of a wooden entertainment center filled with books, speakers, a television, and electronics. At left is a painted image of a fully stocked refrigerator. Apagya’s works are both a contemplation of contemporary consumer culture and a reflection on the relationship between art and artifice, dreams, and reality.