In the 21st Century art world, Ghanaian-born painter Samuel Adoquei follows the historical tradition of creative minds who challenged themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Adoquei knew at a very early age that he wanted to be an artist. He would draw insistently, and while in primary school he became the representative of his school in all drawing competitions.
As a youth, Adoquei left Ghana when the country was going through a lot of turmoil. He went to art school, but found himself without enough money for art supplies, so he began working 18-hour days painting corporate billboards at the age of 15 in Nigeria. During this time, he remembers thinking, “In my mind I was painting for myself even though I was working for an advertising company”. With an endless amount of materials now at his disposal, the advertising billboards become an inspiration in disguise.
Through his upbringing in Ghana, Adoquei developed an extreme love of nature and dreams of a bigger life beyond his limited experiences. As a child, he was taught to be very respectful of nature and to humanity. Adoquei began cultivating the skill of seeing beauty in how he viewed things more than merely accepting beauty by man’s standards.
After coming to America, Adoquei spent what seemed like limitless time improving his skills. His perseverance and determination would lead him to become the first African artist in Western art to serve on the faculty of all the major academic art institutions of New York City: The National Academy School of Fine Art, the New York Academy of Figurative Arts, the Art Students League of New York and the Educational Alliance. He also taught at the National Academy of Design for twenty-five years, and is the founder of the Fine Arts Atelier of Union Square.
Although Adoquei admires and has been influenced by the great painters of the Renaissance Period, he says his early inspiration came from Jimi Hendrix. He explains this by expressing his admiration in the way Hendrix practiced, in what he achieved, and in how he evolved and inspired people. Seeing Hendrix play the guitar inspired Adoquei and helped him realize how much freedom an artist can have when he/she masters his/her tools. Adoquei explains, “Hendrix taught me what was possible with the paint brush when you have the freedom to put on canvas what your mind envisions”. He regards Hendrix as one of the few artists of his time who showed through one medium a way to attract, capture and enrich people and audiences from across the world from all walks of like; and this is how Adoquei approaches his work as a painter.
It is Adoquei’s desire to explore beauty and preserve the likeness of people that inspired him to explore the essence in skin and flesh tones in his work as a highly sought-after commissioned portrait artist. Adoquei says there’s nothing more fun and rewarding than the joy of painting different people from all parts of the world.
Adoquei feels that his skill as a portrait artist captures physical beauty, but the “unseen beauty” is what no one sees but everyone needs to see. This beauty is what Adoquei describes in the short documentary film “Unseen Beauty”.
Mr. Adoquei has won several international awards for his artwork, including the Gold Medal in Oil Painting and Best Traditional Oil Painting awards at the Knickerbocker Artists Annual Exhibition held in New York City. He has also written extensively on portraiture and landscape painting for American art magazines and has explored his inspiration in his books Origin of Inspiration and How Successful Artists Study, which are both Strand Books #1 Bestsellers. Adoquei has also been featured in France’s Le Monde Newspaper, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone.
Adoquei’s monumental triptych, “The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King,” toured the country as part of an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. When asked why he painted Dr. King in death rather than in life, Adoquei stated, “Martin Luther King was more than a mortal being fighting for a race. MLK was a reincarnated spiritual soul disguised in a Blackman’s skin following the steps of saints and martyrs offering solutions for internal problems. It is this that the painting portrays”.
Some of Adoquei's portraits don the walls of The Harvard Club, Columbia University and many private collections. His latest book A Short Story of Skin Tones in Art was just released.
Samuel Adoquei’s uniqueness is turning nature and people into beautiful timeless paintings that inspire future generations. His timeless art is now accessible to art and eyewear enthusiasts through his latest collaboration with eyewear brand RiseAD. The frames serve as blank canvases for Adoquei’s rich pastels from four still life paintings — Lilies, Oranges, Daffodils and Sunflower — Adoquei answers the question: What do you wear in the age of color and preservation of the earth’s precious produce?
It is this question that influenced him to design this collection from simple images turned into timeless and universal paintings for all who praise nature by honoring her plants and fruits. Adoquei hopes his art inspires people to look at life through a colorful lens that sees beauty everywhere, and that his art will be exposed to a new audience through this new collection.
To learn more about Samuel Adoquei please visit www.samadoquei.com
by Theresa Majeed