About the Artist
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe is a figurative painter who explores character, social mores and fashion in his figurative portraits.
Early Life and Education
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe was born in Accra, Ghana in 1988. Like many other young men, Quaicoe dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player.
He loved going to see American action films, especially Westerns, and became interested in drawing when he learned that the movie posters outside the theaters in Accra were done by commissioned artists.
When he was about fourteen, Quaicoe found the artists’ studio and began recreating the posters. He enjoyed the practice of drawing, but had never thought about making art a career. The more he drew, the more he wanted to learn about art.
He enrolled in the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra after high school. There he was introduced to the art of his Ghanian teachers and European masters, but saw very few paintings in person.
After graduating, he explored landscapes and abstract paintings, focusing on the use of color. One of his close friends was a photographer whose work resonated with Quaicoe. His friend’s black and white profile portrait of a woman inspired Quaicoe to paint the photograph to see if he could capture the feeling with paint that the photo inspired. He found that he could, and began to learn photography from his friend. Quaicoe began to explore the connection between himself and the subjects he photographed and then painted.
His work was exhibited in group shows in Ghana.
Quaicoe met an American woman on Facebook. She visited him in Accra. They eloped and settled in her hometown of Portland, Oregon in 2017.
He worked for Fedex and painted in his kitchen. In an effort to connect with other artists, Quaicoe reached out to the Gresham Art Committee, a group just east of Portland, who held monthly exhibits.
One of Quaicoe’s college friends invited him to Los Angeles, where he was artist-in-residence at the Roberts Projects Gallery. His friend had to go to Vienna for an awards ceremony, and Quaicoe stayed in L.A., waiting for him to return. He painted while waiting for his friend and the gallery owner saw Quaicoe’s work and invited him to exhibit his work at Art Basel in Miami. In 2020 he was given a residency at the Roberts Projects, and then his first solo show. It sold out. Quaicoe quit his Fedex job.
In 2021, he was artist-in-residence at the Rubell Museum in Miami, where he explored the idea of double images and where he was given his first solo museum show.
Quaicoe’s fascination with cowboys led him to research the cowboy culture, where he stumbled on the Compton Cowboys, a group of both males and females who live the western lifestyle and whose motto is “The Street Raised Us. Horses Saved Us.”
In 2022, the Almine Rech Gallery in Brussels exhibited Quaicoe’s paintings of cowboys and cowgirls. Works in the exhibit: Black Rodeo: Cowboys of the 21st Century were based on photographs taken by photojournalist, Ivan McClellan. McClellan introduced Quaicoe to the group and allowed him to use his photos as the basis of his paintings.
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe’s wok has appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue and in Vanity Fair. His work has been exhibited in China, Sweden, Denmark, Brussels, Germany, South Africa, throughout the United States and is in the permanent collection of the Rubell Museum in Miami, the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art and other major venues.