Francis Nii Obodai Provencal
b. Accra Ghana 1963
Born in Accra, Ghana and has lived in England, Nigeria and Ghana, Francis Nii Obodai Provencal is at ease with the vast and diverse world of his continent. His work mainly explores the urban and rural, not with a detached eye, but with an artist’s careful watching, with a strong interest in history and a love of the stories that abound in his world.
Nii Obodai’s photographs are a conduit into a vibrant space. In his travels he discovers and explores the meaning of Farafina*. Here we merge into the zone between tradition, improvisation and modernity. We begin to feel the spirit of Farafina, with its adeptness where religions come together, traditions remain in contemporary living, faces of the Diaspora returned home and spiritual stories are told, from within a landscape of beauty. Nii Obodai is unafraid to challenge the common catch cries of what is accepted to be Africa – war, corruption, helplessness. We share his positive awareness of the daily lives of millions of normal people across the continent. In the images of Nii Obodai, the land of the Farafina is living poetry.
Nii Obodai is presently based in Ghana where he works and lives. He enjoys facilitating inspirational workshops on photography and continues to travel exploring and recording the vibrant essence of life. Nii Obodai has exhibited in Accra, Paris, Bristol, Den Haag, Amsterdam, Bamako.
Who Knows Tomorrow, a collaborative book project with Algerian-French photographer, Bruno Boudjelal. This work is a poetic journey that explores the legacy of independence.
Liberation Of Soul, a work in progress of interviews and portraits of people in Africa exploring their vision for the future. Liberation Of Soul is created with audio and photography.
Farafina Creates, a practical experience of design and construction with natural building resources. This project explores the technologies and possibilities of rural potential. Farafina Creates also explores the relationship between architecture and landscape. It’s in collaboration with Selassi Tettevie (artist/designer) and the Akplease Family of the Volta Region, Ghana. The Akplease’s are mud earth builders and forest-keepers.
Nii Kwei’s Day
Who Knows Tomorrow, April 2009, Alliance Francaise, Accra
Who Knows Tomorrow, June 2009, Centre Atlantique de la Photographie, Brest
The Cité Internationale des Arts, 2005, Paris
Clark Bursary, Watershed, 2007, Bristol
*Farafina – Bambara Language (mali) meaning “Land Of The Black Skin
“My photography is the process of openly expressing what gives me the energy to remain sane and to visualize the art of life as I experience it.
My observation is that thought is image and vice versa. Thought is shaped by the mystery of now. When I create an image it’s not with a detached eye but with the reasoning that I am part observer, explorer, creator and messenger, with an artist’s inspiration from nature’s expression of being.
I desire to engage the past, traveling the places that create memory and thus to see a way into the future. I explore the zones between tradition, improvisation and modernity, documenting a New Africa. In this landscape of wonder, with its unlikely adeptness, cultures merge, positive traditions remain in contemporary living, faces of the Diaspora return home and spiritual stories are told not to be forgotten.
Having our thoughts come in the form of images, then what better method of communication than to use photography to express my imagination and allow for transformation. Going beyond the beyond. It‚s my way of exposing an exciting world where the least is more and beauty is undeniable. Finding and giving strength in simple ideas.
Spirit culture landscape earth music dance poetry space structure people infinity light. Cosmic tension and release. Healing.”