Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe

Untold stories find a voice in radiant and intimate portraits.

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe was born in 1988 in Accra, Ghana, and is now based in Gresham, Oregon.


A local artist referred him to the Ghanatta College of Art and Design, Ghana, where he received his MFA. It wasn't until his graduation in 2008 that the artist felt he found his own voice and artistic identity.

Did you know?

Quaicoe is a lover of commercial blockbuster films. After noticing that the large-scale movie posters at his local theatre were hand-painted, he began visiting artists' studios and attempting to imitate their practice - eventually leading to his career as an artist.

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Practice overview

Oil paintings by Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe depict friends, family and strangers with rich contouring and thick impasto. The works contrast bright oranges, yellows, reds and blues against the dark skin tones of their figures, created with a mix of deep grey, purple and black pigments. Cultural empowerment is at the heart of Quaicoe’s practice, who was born in Ghana but now lives and works in the United States, a move that has profoundly informed his art. Growing up, Quaicoe was inspired by cinema: both the films that he watched and the hand-painted posters that advertised them. References to African and American pop culture feature throughout, as well as fashion and American portrait painters such as Barkley L. Hendricks and Amy Sherald. Each painting proffers its own nuanced narrative, “the idea is to be the channel between the unheard and the rest of the world.”

Quaicoe is not driven to create a physical likeness to the people he paints, but instead focuses on embodying their energy and atmosphere. Alimatu Yussif (2019) depicts the Ghanian model of the same name sitting upright on a wooden stool with the cool, unabashed poise of a fashion editorial. Her tapered suit captures the androgynous feel of her work as a model, engulfed in block orange sandy textures. While inherently ambiguous, the strength of her almost-frowning expression is that it does not hide vulnerability, but embraces it as power - an ode to Yussif herself and a spectacle of cultural celebration expressed in the sunlit joy of orange, black and grey. As Quaicoe puts it himself, “everyone has their own life, their own story... if you listen.”

"The idea is to be the channel between the unheard and the rest of the world."Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe