Collections: Arts of Africa: Looking Back Into the Future

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

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    2014.32.1_PS9.jpg 2014.32.1_detail_PS9.jpg

    Looking Back Into the Future

    Both of these works, separated by many centuries, use the human body as a platform for expressing and displaying script.

    Shabtis are funerary figures intended to do the agricultural work the gods might require of the deceased, represented here holding hoes. The hieroglyphic inscription on this figure is a spell from the Book of the Dead, asking the shabti to do the Nubian king Senkamanisken’s work for him in the afterlife.

    Owusu-Ankomah's paintings depict a spiritual world occupied by people and symbols. The male figure in this work is covered by, and moves within, Akan adinkra symbols from the artist's native Ghana, each of which graphically represents a particular concept or proverb. Looking Back Into the Future depicts a nude man with his head turned backward, in a pose associated with the Akan proverbial concept of sankofa ("one must know the past to know the future").

    You can see a contemporary version of adinkra cloth among the "touch" textiles around the corner.

    This text refers to these objects: ' 39.5; 2014.32.1

    • Artist: Owusu-Ankomah, Ghanaian, born 1956
    • Medium: Acrylic on canvas
    • Dates: 2008
    • Dimensions: 59 1/16 x 78 3/4 in. (150 x 200 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of Africa
    • Museum Location: This item is on view in Double Take Installation, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 2014.32.1
    • Credit Line: Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund
    • Rights Statement: © Owusu-Ankomah
    • Caption: Owusu-Ankomah (Ghanaian, born 1956). Looking Back Into the Future, 2008. Acrylic on canvas, 59 1/16 x 78 3/4 in. (150 x 200 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund, 2014.32.1. © Owusu-Ankomah
    • Image: overall, 2014.32.1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
    • Record Completeness: Good (64%)
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