Our latest series sees us sharing stories from our international community kingpins by spotlighting the people living, working and doing good things in the vicinity of our stores and stockists. As we like to say; it’s all about Good People and Good Places.
Next up on the UW. road trip is London, with the first stop being the bold and brilliant artist, friend and customer of the Universal Works Kings Cross Store, Kojo Marfo. Art lovers here will already be aware of his standout work, but for those who might be new to the world of Kojo, we asked him to put down the paintbrush for an afternoon to talk about all things creative with us.
Originally born in Ghana, Kojo is now London-based, after moving to the capital when he was a teenager. His work has been exhibited in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Barcelona and London. It was his move to the U.K.’s capital that inspired the decision to become an artist. Visits to the city’s museums and galleries alongside enjoying art classes at school kick started what has turned out to be a very successful career in the art world — which, as we know, is notoriously hard to crack into.
Kojo wears Road Shirt in Navy Hokkoh Print, Kyoto Work Pant in Navy Hokkoh Print, Flower Mountain x Universal Works Yamano 3 in Off White Nubuck.
We quizzed Kojo on how he started to develop his creative style and he explained, “A uniquely vital aspect of my practice is rooted in traditional Akan artefacts I saw as a child, when I was growing up in Ghana. I want people to see my work as a reflection and evolution of my Akan culture, which has shaped (and continues to shape) me. I describe myself as an afro-expressionist and my paintings reference different cultures and combine European and African themes.
Picasso is the don as far as Kojo is concerned. We’re also big fans of Pablo here at UW and asked how this 20th century art hero had impacted Kojo’s work. He described, “Well, he changed art and made it accessible for everyone. If I hadn’t seen his work, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And I guess, when it comes to colour, I use that as my mode of expression; It gives me the opportunity to use vivid and bright colours which are a simple visualisation of the personality of an African. I have images of African clothes and sometimes I go through catalogues of fashion magazines as well to find the best colour combinations.”
We conclude by asking whether there’s any advice for the younger generation, or anyone thinking of striding out into the world of art. After a quick ponder, he said, “Don’t let yourself be distracted from what you want to achieve by external factors. Stay focused and keep working on it until you feel that what you are producing is a reflection of the message you want to convey or is true to what is real to you.” Is London a good place to start, we wonder? “Yes. It’s a great melting pot with cracks in it but we have all managed to hold it together with love and understanding.” Listen up kids! Kojo has spoken.