Born in 1947, in the hills of Akwapim, Ghana, Paa Joe learned the art of coffin making at the age of sixteen in his uncle Kane Kwei’s studio in Teshie. After an apprenticeship that lasted ten years, he opened his own studio, first in Nungua in 1976, then in Pobiman in 2008 and has trained many apprentices, including his son Jacob.
A pioneer in Ghanaian whimsical coffin art, Paa Joe was one of the first artists to show his artisanal funerary sculptures in the West during the Pompidou Centre’s Magiciens de la terre exhibition in 1989.
Paa Joe’s playful and colorful sculptures, subtle contemporary representations of traditional funeral ritual practices, blur the lines between art and artisanal craft. His artwork, created to represent the personality of the deceased, is often destined to be buried and therefore are only seen by a limited audience.
Paa Joe has participated in numerous major exhibitions, among them Six Feet Under at the Kunstmuseum in Burn, in 2006. His coffins are part of several collections and museums, such as the British Museum, in London and the Brooklyn Museum, in New York City.
Electric Bulb, 2015,
110 x 230 x120 cm,