Ablade Glover's abstract painting features a thickly-painted surface with colorful representations of crowds of people in a marketplace

Ablade Glover

Ghanaian, b. 1934

Market Scene II, 1999

Acrylic on canvas

42 x 31 inches

Signed and dated lower right

Ablade Glover is a renowned Ghanaian artist and educator who has been a pivotal figure in the West African contemporary art scene since he began his career nearly five decades ago.

Glover’s paintings are a hybrid of abstraction and representation; seen from afar his compositions appear as a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, and even evoke the intricate textile patterns of Kente cloth, the traditional handwoven textiles of Ghana. Upon closer inspection, figures and architectural details of the city and marketplace emerge. The energetic movement and bustle of activity is heightened by the vivid contrast of colors and the quick, gestural applications of paint. Glover uses a palette knife to scrape thick impasto oil pigments onto the canvas, a non-traditional technique that he learned at Newcastle University. He quickly realized the potential to create spontaneous, and textured areas of color with the palette knife, and has rarely used a paintbrush since.

Market Scene II is strong example of Glover’s robust marketplace paintings. In this tight composition, the vendor stalls appear as scraped squares of pigment, primarily in shades of white, red, and yellow. The scraping of thick paint to convey forms and the primary color palette recall the late “Slab” paintings of visionary artist and educator Hans Hofmann. A large and dense group of figures is painted down the center of the canvas, with minute details receding into the background. In both style and subject matter, it is possible that Glover was inspired by the innovative Abstract Expressionist painter, Norman Lewis, whose works similarly exist between abstraction and representation. In the 1960s, Lewis painted a body of work that reflected his interest in the ritualistic gathering of people, oftentimes with political and social agendas. The processional quality and the stylistic treatment of the figures in Lewis’ work bear similarity to the grouping of people in Glover’s compositions.

Ablade Glover's abstract painting features a thickly-painted surface with colorful representations of crowds of people in a marketplace