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Ghosts of Empires

22 March 2022 - 14 May 2022



Ben Brown Fine Arts is pleased to announce Ghosts of Empires, a two-part group exhibition curated by Ghanaian-American writer and curator Larry Ossei-Mensah. Taking place at Ben Brown Fine Arts’ galleries in Hong Kong (22 March – 14 May) and London (Autumn 2022), the exhibition seeks to explore the intersections, overlaps, and dissonance between the Black Atlantic and Asia Imperialist Trade routes and brings together an extraordinary group of contemporary artists hailing from African and Asian diasporas.

This seminal exhibition features the work of Hurvin Anderson, Adam de Boer, Delphine Desane, Theaster Gates, Jeanne F. Jalandoni, Chris Ofili, Fadekemi Ogunsanya, Maia Cruz Palileo, Miguel Angel Payano Jr., Paul Anthony Smith, Livien Yin and Zao Wou-Ki.

Inspired by the formative text by British-Ghanian author and MP Kwasi Kwarteng, Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World, the exhibition at its crux is an examination of how artists from African and Asian diasporas are engaging with the legacies of slavery, migration, colonialism, sovereignty, trade, and imperialism in contemporary times. By amplifying the conscious acts of liberation, resistance, and perseverance these communities have exhibited – despite their historical circumstances – Ghosts of Empires will provide a forum for a nuanced understanding of collective histories and will explore how current diasporic artists are engaging with those histories today.

“This show will highlight that among these narratives which History has taught us are different, there is overlap. There is a multitude of communities that have been oppressed because of colonization and imperialism, who in spite of that have been able to thrive, have been able to create rich cultures, and have been able to develop important ideas.” Larry Ossei-Mensah

The curatorial process here seeks to present a balanced set of dialogues, showing how the narratives cross and overlap, finding reverberations and echoes across time and space. Working in painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, and myriad mixed media, employing both traditional and new techniques, these artists have all found ways to examine their unique and often multifarious cultural histories, highlighting that the residue of the past is omnipresent, and that history, culture and identity are neither linear nor easily demarcated.

“In reading Kwasi Kwarteng’s book Ghosts of Empire, I was struck by a sense of the ripple effects throughout modern history from so many different places that have been colonized; so I wanted to look at the role of art and culture in cracking open this conversation to a broader audience. Ben Brown Fine Arts and I have been in conversation for several years, but the time now feels right for a show that is not only articulating the nuances of the Black experience, but also looking at how over time other communities, including Asian, have been oppressed. I think starting this conversation in Hong Kong is interesting – looking at how Hong Kong has come to be and what is happening in Hong Kong now. In London, we will also be exhibiting pieces from Notting Hill Carnival, which is an act born out of resistance, but which has ultimately become one of ritual and celebration.” Larry Ossei-Mensah


Larry Ossei-Mensah uses contemporary art as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. The Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces globally. A native of The Bronx, Ossei-Mensah is the co-founder of ARTNOIR, a global collective designed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class and to celebrate the artistry and creativity of Black and Brown artists around the world. Ossei-Mensah was a contributor to the first-ever Ghanaian Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennial with an essay on the work of visual artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Ossei-Mensah is the former Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD), Detroit, and currently serves as Curator-at-Large at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), where he curated the exhibition Let Freedom Ring in 2021. Recently, Ossei- Mensah co-curated the 7th Athens Biennial, and curated Ghanian painter Amoako Boafo’s first museum solo exhibition, Soul of Black Folks, at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), San Francisco and the Contemporary Art Museum Houston which will open Spring 2022.


22 March 2022
14 May 2022
Event Category:


Ben Brown Fine Arts
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