THE Artist Alliance was founded in 1993 by the artist and retired teacher, Ablade Glover, and his wife.
The gallery provides an exhibition space for contemporary Ghanaian and West African art, as well as art from Africa’s past.
Professor Glover taught at the University of Science and Technology for 27 years, where he also served as the Dean of the College of Arts. Professor Glover has had his works in exhibitions worldwide.
The Artist Alliance is a gallery that has been a fixture in Accra’s art scene for the past 14 years, and has very recently been given a facelift. The Gallery was formerly situated at Nungua, nestled away from the hustle and bustle of roads and traffic.
Currently, it is now on the Labadi road, on the highway to Nungua. A large pink building, also known as Omanye House (meaning Victory), the Artist Alliance is not hard to miss.
Yet, many taxi drivers are perplexed when asked to drive to the gallery if called by its name, unable to readily identify the building.
But this lack of direction clearly on the part of taxis is only a smaller manifestation of Ghana’s approach to art. Is Ghana having a hard time locating and accessing its art industry?
Professor Glover, in one of his many lectures at the gallery, will explain that in Ghana, and West Africa, art is all around us. It is alive in our decoration of ourselves, in our environments, mannerisms and even speech.
However, business ventures such as the Artist Alliance are having a hard time giving speech to the arts. Glover explains that in Ghana we are not so concerned with the Western notion of "for art’s sake" because art is experienced everyday.
"We are worried, first, whether there is food in our stomachs, cloths on our backs, or shelter over our heads."
Under such circumstances, contemporary art loses currency, and an ‘industry’ in the arts can not flourish.
In fact, when posed with the question of whether the art industry in Ghana is in need of financial assistance, Glover laughs slightly, asking instead: "Is there an art industry?"
Part of the work of the Gallery, Professor Glover says, is to alleviate this isolation and connect the artists to the wider Ghanaian audience. Businesses such as the Artist Alliance, are mere tools for visibility,
Working essentially as a storage and exhibition space for Ghana’s struggling artist, the business motto of the Gallery is "buying art direct from the artists", thus helping artist and client relations by putting an interesting edge to a slack business.
The gallery only takes a small percentage of a price which the artists themselves fix for the public.
There are many of these artists’ works displayed in the gallery, but a public institution such as the gallery has to be somewhat discriminating of what it promotes to viewers.
"What people need to come to grips with is if this is an art gallery or an art shop. It’s like distinguishing between a restaurant and a chop bar. A gallery must have a focus, an intent. You must know what you’re doing. Such a business is not just a get rich quick business"
While the recent expansion of the Artist Alliance is a sign of a burgeoning art industry in Ghana, visual and fine arts within the country are still in need of promotion.