“Baptized by Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana”

Raw, imaginative, larger-than-life original art and an absolute treasure of a collection.

‘In 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from its colonial power, the United Kingdom. As the world’s leading exporter of cocoa and provider of one-tenth of the world’s gold, its economy was one of the strongest on the continent; however, the complex and unstable political climate that came after independence threw Ghana into decades of economic collapse. Government corruption and financial mismanagement caused established agricultural businesses to fail, and the currency was continuously devalued. Ghanaians needed new, creative ways to make money.

One surprising industry that emerged to meet this need during the 1980s and 1990s was an independent, unregulated network of video distribution that presented pop-up movie screenings in ad hoc movie halls around the country. Many of these spaces had also been used as open-air places of worship for decades. To introduce an audience to this new form of entertainment, posters were hand-painted by local artists on cotton flour sacks and traveled with the films across the countryside.

Baptized by Beefcake presents the work of 22 artists whose posters tell the story of how Western movies not only became symbols of modernity, but also vehicles for religious experience. Each artist’s signature style reflects Ghana’s rich tradition of painting, as well as the influence of Western commercial graphics portrayed on VHS and PAL box covers. The eye-catching, sometimes shocking graphics reference a hybrid of indigenous and Pentecostal symbology, where Rambo and the Terminator become messengers of moral ideologies in a larger-than-life mashup of pop culture and religion” [source]

Poster House

December 28th, 2019

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