Rob van Doeselaar
Slave Castle
In Ghana I started making abstract paintings partially inspired by Adinkra symbols and fabric patterns. The country has a tradition of Kente cloth that was worn by the elite of the Akan people, but there have also been Indian batik designs in circulation since the 19th century, and new fabrics similar to it, that have spread all over Africa. In addition to paper and linen, I also painted in Ghana on pieces of wood and wooden utensils. I exhibited these works in the National Museum of Accra. After that, through my impressions of travels in the Ashanti and Volta regions, scenic elements reappeared in my paintings.

In 2002 I had a unique painting exhibition in Elmina’s slave castle commemorating 300 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Ghana. The castle was in the hands of the Dutch WIC for over 200 years. From this junction hundreds of thousands of people were deported as slaves to the American continent. My paintings showed facets of the monumental castle and its surroundings where direct traces of the horrible history seemed erased, yet tangible. The exhibition was first visited by Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Máxima.

Elegant palm trees are watching the castle. They rustle in the wind looking out to the sea, waving to everyone coming and going.

Accra (1998-2003)