In African tradition – where Ghana has stood out significantly – businesses have relied heavily on commercial artists who paint advertising signs by hand for all kinds of businesses. Those artists advertise their own talents by painting whatever appeals to them, whatever they believe will attract attention and demonstrate their skill. Their customer commissions whatever he needs to advertise his own business. This is a painting done by a commercial artist for that purpose. Ghanaians are very religious people and most are Christian (according to the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC the 2012 census of that country estimates there are 25 million people in Ghana, 71.2% of which is Christian). This painting shows a man who has climbed a tree by his own effort, thinking he would be safe there, but even there a snake has appeared to threaten him. The painting says that we are surrounded by evil; we cannot run from it. It is only God who can help us. No one can save himself by his own effort.
This painting was done on the back of a sign that had been previously painted. It’s not clear exactly how it had been used or for what it was painted but it is clear that there are two men in caricature, a common form of artistic representation in Ghana, who appear to be dancing. They are, in fact, recognized by Ghanaians as happy. They symbolize happiness. On top of that very well executed painting are some words that appear to have been painted for a company although it’s not clear if this was actually ever used by that company. It’s not completely clear what those words are but they appear to be “MANAGEMENT MARKETING HOTEL & CATERING”. What is clear is that they want to show how happy anyone is going to be when they deal with this company. It’s a beautifully characteristic means of artistic and commercial expression in Ghana. These men in caricature are a common expression of happiness in Ghana.
The painting measures 46 x 40 1/4″ (117 x 102 cm).