Conrad Egyir

We are ‘Amantramanmienu’, I told them. Amantramanmienu is a royal title from the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana which means ‘He (or they) that bestride two worlds’.”

—  Conrad Egyir's quote about his struggle that he grapples with the 'naturalization' process to be a US citizen. Successions and Reflections: Heris of a New Country. 2019.

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It is difficult to pinpoint the things that make us who we are. It is made more so when grappling with the effects of hyphenated identities, particularly in the American context. Conrad deals with this beautifully through his mixed-media paintings, thoughtfully reframing a wealth of references in bold graphic elements, crisp lines and sculptural elements to present the dynamics of his identity. The narratives within his works tell stories of his citizenship, migration to America, upbringing in post-colonial Africa, political commentary and religious revolutions. 

In "Agape, Allegory of Love", Conrad takes Ashanti symbols (the panther, African comb, an African sword called Akrafena, and an African stool chair) and places them alongside large adjectives that describe the subject. By doing so, he creates a deified portrait that honors those who have been important in shaping his identity. In this particular piece the person highlighted is artist and fellow Ghanian-American Patrick Quarm

After asking to pick one of the 8 types of love he resonates most with, Patrick picked AGAPE. This love is often referenced in Christian religious and spiritual circles. The scene in the foreground has a shepherd coming to the defense of a sheep that has gone astray and speaks to the many narratives of the Lost sheep and the Good Shepherd. By repeatedly showing Patrick in different poses, Conrad shows the different versions we all have of ourselves throughout our lives, sometimes at the same time. Moreover, the poses themselves harken back to religious/deity figure paintings from the Middle-Ages. It is as if each subject were shown a Christian Saint, depicted with items that defined their stories into sainthood and in doing so elevates the Black bodies he represents to the same esteem. 

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