Joseph "Paa Joe" Tetteh-Ashong (Ghanaian, born 1945) 'JFK Limousine' 80 x 72 x 181cm (31 1/2 x 28 3/8 x 71 1/4in)

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Lot 3* W
Joseph "Paa Joe" Tetteh-Ashong
(Ghanaian, born 1945)
'JFK Limousine' 80 x 72 x 181cm (31 1/2 x 28 3/8 x 71 1/4in)

£ 4,000 - 6,000
US$ 5,200 - 7,800
Amended
Joseph "Paa Joe" Tetteh-Ashong (Ghanaian, born 1945)
'JFK Limousine'
bears artist name to front and rear number plates
painted carved wood with fabric upholstery and perspex
80 x 72 x 181cm (31 1/2 x 28 3/8 x 71 1/4in)

Footnotes

  • Born in 1954, Paa Joe lives and works in Teshi, a small fishing village outside Accra, Ghana. He apprenticed in the workshop of his uncle Kane Kwei, a carpenter famous for creating original and imaginative coffins. Kane Kwei and Paa Joe are concerned with preserving a tradition of craftsmanship that has existed in the region for centuries – each generation of the family passing their knowledge and skills on to the next. Paa Joe's coffins also attempt to satisfy the religious and ritualistic demands of his patrons, many of whom adhere to long established beliefs.

    Art and craft has long been an aspect of funeral ceremonies in Ghana. It is of particular significance to the Ga, the ethnic group to which Paa Joe and his fellow Teshi sculptors belong. The idea of reincarnation is key in their approach to death and the afterlife. In this tradition, coffins are not a final resting place, but a way of sending an individual on to the next stage of their journey. The coffins of Paa Joe also celebrate the life just led, their form often references the profession and lineage of the deceased.

    US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated whilst travelling in an open-top presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas in November 1963. Kennedy was riding with his wife, and the governor in a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible, greeting crowds who had lined the streets to see him. The current lot is a model of this same vehicle, kitsch, reupholstered and almost resplendent in its eccentricity of a sombre American icon. Joe has also replaced the Presidential flag with that of its Ghanaian counterpart on the front of the car.

    This work is very similar in theme to Joe's previous work Porsche 55 (James Dean's car) (sold in these rooms, May, 2014, lot 34). Both subvert the sombre icons of the Porsche Spyder and the Lincoln convertible that have become synonymous with the deaths of two American icons. Joe uses the celebratory funeral traditions of the Ga to highlight the fluidity between life and death, breathing new life into these tropes of American culture.

    Paa Joe was first brought to the attention of the international art market when he participated at the 1989 exhibition 'Les Magiciens de la Terre' at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Since then his coffins have been shown at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin for Neue Kunst aus Afrika in 1996, and in Stuttgart the following year.


    Bibliography
    A.Tagliaferri, 'Continuity and discontinuity in today's African art', in Tribal South, Metropolitan Body: Contemporary African Art (Bologna, 2001) pp.42 & 142.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the artist was born in 1947, and not when stated in the catalogue. He also now works in the town of Pobiman, and not Teshi as stated in the catalogue.
Contacts
Joseph "Paa Joe" Tetteh-Ashong (Ghanaian, born 1945) 'JFK Limousine' 80 x 72 x 181cm (31 1/2 x 28 3/8 x 71 1/4in)
Joseph "Paa Joe" Tetteh-Ashong (Ghanaian, born 1945) 'JFK Limousine' 80 x 72 x 181cm (31 1/2 x 28 3/8 x 71 1/4in)
Joseph "Paa Joe" Tetteh-Ashong (Ghanaian, born 1945) 'JFK Limousine' 80 x 72 x 181cm (31 1/2 x 28 3/8 x 71 1/4in)
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