Boxing, as a subject in art, has an allure and a history. The poetry of the ring, and the elegant brutality of the physicality, draws painters in. Obviously, the likes of LeRoy Neiman and Geroge Bellows really contextualized an atmosphere around the sport, and in recent years, Alvin Armstrong and Jonas Wood have tackled the subject. Now, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, the brilliant painter from Ghana who is now based in the USA, has created a body of work, Hall of Fame, that puts boxing front and center but in a refreshing, almost religious, way. But separating the boxers from the ring, and capturing the deep legacy of boxing in Ghana as a reverential and historic act, Otis has captured both the spirit of youth and the spiriti of intensity in each young man. 

Roberts Projects notes, "African scholar and historian Emmanuel Akyeampong attributes the early-20th century popularity of boxing to the colonial occupation of Ghana by England—an amalgamation of African and British sociopolitics that took the form of sporting culture. What developed was a unique hybrid of boxing that combined the indigenous African tradition of asafo atwele—the Ga term for group fighting—with Western-style boxing and global commercial enterprise. In Accra’s present urban landscape there is a prize fighter blossoming in every local amateur, and this is precisely what Quaicoe aims to capture." 

Otis has, for years now, stripped away extraneous ideas of place, and let the texture of skin, clothing, and facial structure tell the story. Through boxing, we have something universal but with a history we need to learn. And now these stand with the rich canon of boxing paintings. —Evan Pricco