A graduate in Visual Arts and Textiles of the Ghanatta Institute of Art and Design, Emmanuel Taku studied with well-known figurative painters Amoako Boafo and Otis Quaicoe, and has been practicing different forms of portraiture for more than ten years. His subjects are often clothed in striking floral prints, which he prints on the canvas using a distinct silk screen method. Taku’s works incorporate a variety of materials, as he applies textiles and newspapers onto canvas, fiberglass, fiber net, mesh, or plywood.
Reminiscent of Malick Sidibé, the artist combines his focus on portraiture with a longstanding passion for textiles and patterns, passed on to him through his mother. Taku’s paintings depict black people striking a pose, as if challenging the viewer to take a closer look. For the artist, adding layers of abstraction to his portraits is a way to reclaim dominant narratives about black bodies and to reject their objectification. With their supernatural appearance, Taku lends his subjects the status of demi-gods or mythical heroes. His practice thereby positions black people as worthy of awe and reverence, constituting an important voice in the recent rise of black portraiture in contemporary art.