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Nana Kwadwo: Empowering Black Culture through Afrofuturistic Digital Art

Nana Kwadwo Tweneboa-Kodua is a talented young designer and digital artist hailing from Accra, Ghana. His work is deeply rooted in the Black experience and seeks to empower Black culture through artistic expression. Nana skillfully incorporates elements of Afrofuturism and Afrocentrism into his art pieces, which he creates using a variety of digital mediums. He is constantly exploring new techniques and technologies, including cutting-edge innovations such as Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, to push the boundaries of his art.

Nana Kwadwo's art is a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection between African culture and science fiction. Through his work, Nana imagines possible futures and urban spaces that embrace and celebrate Black identity. His fascination with space and the unknown began in childhood and continues to influence his art today.

At the core of Nana's art is a desire to transport his audience to new realities where the Black race thrives. Each of his art pieces is crafted with the intention of inviting viewers to envision themselves within the worlds he creates. Through his art, Nana hopes to inspire others to embrace their own identities and imagine new possibilities for the future.

Nana Kwadwo Tweneboa-Kodua

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in the art form that you're working with?

Art is something I’ve grown up with really. I started drawing at a very early age and gradually I’ve grown up and developed in it. I originally started creating photo-manipulated art around 2016 on a phone until I got my first laptop.

Artists like David Alabo, Beeple, Basquiat, and Juan Carlos Ribas inspired me and also made me think of what I could achieve if I tried. I spent a lot of time watching tutorial videos and related content online to be able to develop my skill. I started to create and post these collages on Instagram. Around early 2020 I had a creative block and was desperate to find new sources of inspiration. Over time I came to the realization that my inspiration surrounded me and that I shouldn’t have to force creativity. Over this period Afrocentrism and Afrofuturism were themes that I really began to resonate with. It was so easy to get inspired; As a young African I had a lot of thoughts, experiences, and ideas I wanted to let out and digital art was the perfect medium to use.

Envisage, Beyond, Crossroads, Nana Kwadwo Tk, Digital, 2022

Q: Your work is centered around the expression of development in the Black experience and empowering Black Culture. Can you talk a bit about how you use your art to achieve this goal?

My art usually consists of fabricated environments with “Black sentinels” exploring these environments, representing futures where Africans thrive. To express development in the Black experience and empower African culture, I incorporate Afrofuturism and Afrocentrism into my pieces. My pieces deliver the message of creating brighter futures and realities where Africans thrive, providing them with a unique identity. This is evident in the way my models are dressed, their accessories, and the items that surround them. My intention is for viewers to insert themselves into my art and envision these futures, creating a sense of empowerment. Through my work, I aim to push not only the culture but also a positive narrative about Africa and Ghana.

Q: You integrate Afrofuturism and Afrocentrism in your art pieces. How do you see these movements contributing to the representation and empowerment of Black Culture in the world today?

I use Afrofuturism as a means to recast, past, present, and future black culture. It helps to empower the aspirations of people of color, the current generation, giving us a platform to thrive in our own culture, where we imagine ourselves achieving greatness without external influence.

Q: You use various digital mediums, including Augmented Reality technology and Artificial Intelligence, in your art pieces. How do you decide which mediums to use, and what role do you see technology playing in the future of art?

I have as big an interest in technology as I have in art. I see technology becoming a very sought-after medium for creating art in the future. For now, traditional mediums are regarded more highly, but I feel that technology and digital art forms will come to be accepted over time. I think depending on what exactly I want to create, in terms of aesthetics and also the experience I want my audience to have is what I base my choice of what medium to use. I recently started experimenting with AR and the reactions to it have been very positive. I want to explore that area of art more, the idea of an immersive experience is wild and I’d really like for my audience to experience these realities I create.

Magnify, Nana Kwadwo Tk, Digital, 2022
Magnify, Nana Kwadwo Tk, AR, 2022

Q: Your work explores the relationship between African Culture and Science fiction, possible futures, and urban spaces. What draws you to these themes, and how do you think they can help people envision new possibilities for the future?

I’ve always had an interest in sci-fi movies and tv series. Shows like that always made me wonder what the future could possibly look like. As a child and even now I’ve always wanted to experience what it would feel like to live in worlds like the Jetsons, Star Wars, Captain Planet, Rick and Morty, love death and robots, and The flash. Another theme I incorporate in my art is the youth and African youth culture. The new generation, the youth will have a huge impact on the future, I stand with that and I try to represent that as much as I can in my pieces.

Q: You've said that you want to disseminate African and Ghanaian culture internationally. Can you talk about some of the challenges you face in doing this, and how you hope to overcome them?

There are great opportunities among Westerners who are interested in understanding diverse cultures and appreciating nature in all its forms and these Westerners themselves help in promoting and preserving African art. African artists like myself seek to create awareness of their cultural values through their work.

However, on the flip side, there are people in the Western world who probably by virtue of their exposure, are unable and also unwilling to see and appreciate how any artwork that is contrary to what they are used to seeing as “normal art “ and what it should look and even feel like.

Modernization, Nana Kwadwo Tk, Digital, 2022

Q: Can you tell us about a particular piece of art you've created that you feel especially proud of, and why?

I think the piece I’m most proud of is the first piece I made after the lockdown, Modernization I. That piece basically kickstarted this journey. It shows a black figure wearing the traditional kente cloth as well as an Astronaut’s helmet on its head. I considered a wide range of subjects in making that piece including children since children usually symbolise the future. I finally settled on using our local leaders here in Ghana as a main subject, in this case, chiefs, where I would have the opportunity to manipulate such images and incorporate them with modern technology. Our leaders ideally should be the first to embrace change and also should be willing to consider new and different ideas to promote development. It’s such a simple piece but invokes much thought and emotion.

Q: Can you talk about any upcoming projects or collaborations you have in the works?

There are definitely some very big things I’d have to keep on the low but God willing I’m going to have another exhibition again later this year.

Unleashed by Technology Pt. 2, Nana Kwadwo Tk, Digital, 2022


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