Owusu-Ankomah has long drawn on Ghanaian adrinka symbols as motifs for his paintings. Over the years he has added other signs to his repertoire, ranging from Chinese characters and crop-circle schemata to invented signs and, even, snowflakes. In Microcron Begins, his second solo exhibition at the October Gallery in London, he has narrowed in on one self-invented sign, the “microcron”—a circlet of dots or globes—as the focal point of his symbolic system. But is the microcron visually interesting enough to hold this dominant position?
In his strongest pieces, which have historically been black-and-white, he pushes the relationship between the figures and the symbols further. He also uses two figures rather than one, generating a sense of energy and depth. But some recent paintings included in this exhibition show a dramatic shift into color, an emphasis on tone rather than line, and a more hierarchical composition. These works seem transitional, as if he is feeling his way toward pieces that are more spacious, sparse, and potentially introspective. Now that he is in his fifties, there is a synthesis in his thought that is looking for new outlets in his visual work. But one hopes he won’t leave the linear strength and dynamism of his black-and-white compositions behind.