James Mishio
A moment away
Joy Amidst The Cacophony
Hybrid Mode II
Light From Above
The Waters
Before We Dissolve
Hybrid Mode I
Reflection In Perspective
Beneath The Waters
Investec Cape Town 2024
feb 16 to feb 18 2024
Afrika Now
march 8 to june 30 2024




Born in 1997.

Lives and works in Accra, Ghana.


“Most people my society discriminate against men with hairstyles, likening them to criminals, drug dealers and menaces in society. I found inspiration for my current IDENTITY series from Ahmad Cissé, through his freedom of expression and how he does not let his hairstyle limit him from reaching the top of his professional career. As a fellow creative, who has Senegalese roots, Ahmad always finds himself breaking boundaries in his field of practice, which are modeling, photography among others, having a deep connection to his Senegalese culture. Through the identification branded on me as an individual, and limitations set on me due to my hairstyle, I sought out other individuals who could inspire me to live a normal life in Accra without being branded with homophobic comments, or as a criminal/drug dealer, or someone unable to be accepted into jobs and professions, or looked down upon, like other men with dreadlocks and hairstyles are. After researching into my muse and speaking to Ahmad, I found interest in the expression in his photographs, his postures and body poses, which expressed freedom in his IDENTITY. A way of telling the world to accept him for who he is, a man who is proud of his dreadlocks.  

This encouraged me to paint his Identity series based on strong black males who, regardless of their hairstyles, defy every stereotype and societal views placed on them to become the best version of themselves.

I also found inspiration in a story of a young boy who was denied admission into a prestigious high school in the country, because of his dreadlocks and belief in Rastafarianism. This is one out of many examples that I has witnessed, heard of and experienced personally. I aim to change the narrative, so men in hairstyles may be able to gain employment, and feel comfortable in spaces where they do not.”


James Mishio sensitively explores the humanity of his subjects, by depicting a sense of familiarity through the infinite, idiosyncratic dispositions that make up our society. The application of thick impasto to his paintings naturally imbue a sense of warmth and intimacy between the viewer and the sitter.

His experimentation with various forms of media and materials and sensitive exploration of the humanity of his subjects fuels his work. He uses Impasto, with a palette knife, applying Oil and Fabric on canvas to create his works. His use of oil for the skins of his subject emphasises on the richness and wealth of the African individual and history their skin holds. His works have found their way to private collections, a noteable exhibition titled ‘Bird of A Feather’ by Phillips Auction House and Artemartis and other galleries in London. He aims to focus on communication and understanding among people, and lays emphasis on the eyes of his subjects, redefining ways through which people communicate, taking inspiration from his mother and how she communicates effectively with him and his family just through eye contact. He is involved in portraiture and figurative work, and his current work focuses on the issue of society’s view on men with long hair and dreadlocks.

Through his portraiture and figurative works, James Mishio has been able to assemble individual characters and insert them into a flourishing community. As a self-taught artist, it was this reliance on community that Mishio was profoundly aware of, thus his work began not by ‘doing’ art, but rather by simply ‘being’. Through an intentional dedication to just being a member of his neighbourhood, Mishio was able to make an internal connection to those around him, evident in the familiar gestures, mannerisms, and actions he would later reproduce on the canvas.


This approach perhaps made Mishio himself his first-ever subject. It required a certain level of introspection to effectively negotiate with the idiosyncrasies of oneself; the depth and dynamism of our personalities and how that can be conveyed without damaging the aesthetic buoyancy of the image. Mishio has been able to maintain this technical balance by remaining immersed in his own cultural experience, in which the sights, sounds, and smells of the city became mobile remnants and recollections of a place that could be transported back to the studio and rematerialize in his paintings.


As he developed his practice, the studio served as a training centre, much like those of the artists during the Italian Renaissance. A workshop to learn the specifics. Eventually, this was converted into a laboratory, a space to conduct hypotheses with care and consideration. As Mishio continued in his attempt to accurately translate the energy of the people and places he encountered in his paintings, he found revelatory comfort in recognising that the studio was not a place for creation but for contextualising.



James Mishio (born in 1997).

Lives and works in Accra, Ghana.



2015 Independent Internship with established local artists

2012 Accra Senior High School



2021 Shall We Start From The Beginning – London, UK.

2019 African Regent – Accra, Ghana.



2023 When The Birds Fly Home, Artemartis x Gallery 1957 – Accra, Ghana.

2022 The New African Portriature, Shariat Collections – Kunsthalle Krems – Vienna, Austria.

2022 Handwritten – Chilli Art Projects – London, UK.

2022 Birds Of A Feather – Phillips Auction House & Artemartis – London, UK.

2021 We Find What We Seek, Coningsby Gallery – London, UK.

2021 Cognizant – London, UK.

2020 Oneric Art Gallery – Accra, Ghana.

2020 Untamed Empire – Accra, Ghana.



Yuval Hanina, USA.

Amir Shariat, Austria.

Lester Marks, USA.

Farah Fakhri, Cote D’Ivoire.

Private Collection, UK.

Private Collection, Ghana.




National Geographic Traveller (UK Edition) – April 2023 Issue

GQ South Africa: “Artemartis: The Ground-Breaking Art Collective Shaping Ghana’s Art Scene”



Barrons.com: “Works by Six Ghanaian Artists to Be Showcased at Phillips London”


Theartemartis.com: “Birds of A Feather - Phillips x Artemartis” https://theartemartis.com/Release-Birds-ofA-Feather-Phillips-x-Artemartis

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