Bevan Agyemang is a visual artist working with found objects to explore “identities in relation to space”
“I see myself as a multidisciplinary artist which leaves room to explore my projects with no constraints,” Bevan tells us in a chat about his fascinating practice.
- Ruby Boddington
- 10 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Influenced by great photographers including Samuel Fosso and Cindy Sherman, London-based, Ghana-born visual artist Bevan Agyemang got his creative start taking self portraits. “I began to depict myself as these characters who were influenced by a combination of my parents old photographs from the 60s through to the 80s and my immediate environment at the time,” he recalls, in conversation with It’s Nice That. “I used my body to communicate these stories and naturally became aware of the power of aura and working through the subconscious process.” Further influenced by Diane Arbus, he began to document his local community, learning the importance of engaging with one’s environment and “taking the time to have genuine conversations with the people within it.”
What introduced us to Bevan’s portfolio – which features multiple media but is centred around the layers of constructing identity – is Tsau, a design studio he runs in collaboration with Khalid Wildman. The project emerged out of conversations between the pair, focused on “the shifting of ideas in relation to the spaces we were travelling through and how we developed new ways of seeing.” Tsau, in turn, became a space to “register, converse and reproduce,” through any creative media they see fit.
Much of Bevan (and Tsau’s) work features found objects, his Instagram littered with self portraits and photographs of others styled using said objects. It’s an interest that stems from a time when he “started to value things differently,” he explains. Having begun researching into the history of Africa, alongside travelling a lot at the time, his understanding of the different ways in which people value objects according to their localised spaces grew. “I would sit and listen to stories from people based within the communities and I started to understand that the value of objects is personal, and through this new meanings and freedoms could be created,” he says.
So he began collecting, piecing them together to create “some sort of hybrid,” the outcome of which was often clothing or accessories, a shoot, or whatever seemed apt. This fluid approach to creating is a direct result of Bevan’ understanding of his own practice. “I see myself as a multidisciplinary artist which leaves room to explore my projects with no constraints,” he outlines. No matter what the medium is though, Bevan’s projects are heavy with substance and “focus around the nature of building identities in relation to space.”
A project which Bevan recalls as a recent favourite was a commission from a platform called Le Tings. He was asked to create a headpiece using things in his immediate surroundings and after a conversation with creative director, curator and stylist Harris Elliot about how people in Ghana had been creating PPE using “this most random things,” Bevan had the idea to create a headpiece using plantain skins. In Ghana, extracts from plantain skins are traditionally used to make a soap that combats acne and promotes skin regeneration, a fact which added a secondary layer to the project: “This symbolises protection through the times and the gold pins evoke structure but also alludes back to Ghana historically being an important source of gold.” It’s a project which perfectly summarises Bevan’s fascination with found objects, the cultural or historical implications they hold and a multiplicitous approach to concepts.
He further explains some of the coded meanings of the headpiece: “Plantain is usually purchased at the market so I decided to incorporate an African market bag which had a giant London graphic at the front. I chose to remove the Lon and leave Don as this is a term to describe a leader. This is an important element to me because this is the point it speaks to a new audience. Cross culture referencing allows for people from different demographics to experience the work I produce.”
Looking ahead, Bevan is planning on exhibiting his newest project The inflated tear within a gallery space, although he’s open to exploring other options in light of the how we are “carving out new ways to receive and experience things.” In the immediate future though, he’s “concentrating on aligning myself with nature, evolving my process and naturally decipher new ways for people to experience my work.”
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About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.