IT was a cheery atmosphere and light-hearted chit chat flowed among art lovers as finger foods and drinks were passed round, with music from a youthful brass band from Cape Coast in the background, when Hacajaka’s ‘Eyes’ exhibition opened last Thursday, November 14, at the Dei Centre in Accra.Sixteen exquisitely-executed pieces rendered in acrylic and ink on canvas, have been put on show by the artist. The show is dedicated to his late mother, Adjoavi.
The artist’s comments during the reception and to guests as they scrutinised and asked questions about the paintings indicated a man eager to pour out his utmost creative sensibilities, inspired by memories of his mother.
Hacajaka, who has lived and worked in the United States since 1997, is known for constantly bringing new elements to his work and his use of fish symbolism in the ‘Eyes’ exhibition is quite striking.
Some of the works are really dense with many elements worked into them but discerning observers could make out the frequent appearance of fishes and fish scales.
The artists explained that he employed fishes and fish scales in a number of the stuff on show for reasons which included his own middle name being Bonsu. That in Twi, refers to the whale so fishes represent an enactment of himself in the works.
Hacajaka is an ordained pastor and he pointed out the image of fish was used by the early Christians to avoid persecution. He said it was a code, Jesus’ earliest disciples being fishermen, for Christians to identify one another and not carelessly play into the hands of enemies.
“They chose to use the code of the fish for survival. So early followers of Christ had fish symbols inscribed on their bodies or stood and drew fishes on the ground in certain places for easy identification by fellow believers or used the sign of the fish on their doors to protect themselves from persecutors.
“Being an ordained pastor, I felt the need to put that identity into some of the pieces. Just putting in a cross to symbolise my faith would be mundane.
"As an artist, I like to get people to read into the beyond and not always the obvious. Choosing the fish option is much more artistic.”
To Hacajaka, the fish also embodies elements of lines and circles which are basic design attributes. His favourite Adinkra symbol also happens to be the Adinkrahene which is a circle within a circle, the same way fish eyes are.
Talking about symbols brings an extra glow into Hacajaka’s eyes. He sees them as the foundation of his work and not just an embellishment or fickle addition after he had designed.
To him, the Adinkra is the stamp that makes his sense of design complete.
The ‘Eyes’ exhibition, which ends on December 6, is sponsored by Insight HR Solutions Gh and Integrity Logistics Company Ltd.