Born and raised in Ghana and known for his bold, graphic portraits of Black individuals that deliver the visual punch of Pop art and are portrayed like royalty and other canonized icons – his subjects reign over canvases shaped like large-scale stamps, postcards, and perforated notebook pages – Conrad Egyir, who is drawn to themes that define the past and present, the image and self, and predestination and free will, takes ArtNowLA’s Da Vinci Questionnaire, plumbing his own psychological depths only to discover what makes him love work and life.
What historical art figure would you like to have lunch with and why? Charles White. Just so I can get a glimpse of what made him charge his figurative drawings with such emotive countenance.
What did you purchase with the proceeds from your first sale? Covered some student loan debt and bought lots of art supplies.
What words or phrases do you overuse? “Substance” and “no substance” can’t be said enough, though.
How do you know when a work is finished? Work is finished often before I start painting. The vision holds the majority of the weight.
When and where were you happiest? My first time in America in 2008.
What is your most treasured possession? Obviously my gift/talent.
Where is your ideal escape destination? Any village in Africa, untethered from Western surveillance.
What’s the worst survival job you’ve ever had? Working a warp speed factory assembly line for chump-change while in undergrad. Man had to make this bread or get kicked out of school. And I got kicked out twice for tuition.
What TV series or film from your youth best describes your approach to life? Shawshank Redemption. And the TV show Suits.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My degree of obedience.
What is your most treasured memory? Getting saved from drowning at a waterfall during an art residency in Vermont.
What makes you smile? Philanthropy.
What makes you cry? Lack of enough philanthropy.
What is your go-to drink when you toast to a sale? I don’t drink and I hardly do toasts. Not opposed to socially drinking however.
After an all-nighter, what’s your breakfast of champions? I haven’t had breakfast in years.
Who inspires you? My family.
What’s your best quality? Questionable at times but – foresight.
What’s your biggest flaw? I overthink everything. I will even debate you on why Tiffany blue is just green.
What is your current state of mind? Kingdom.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? *Greatest* achievements are always yet to be made.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? A physician, a speedster and a techn-oking. Think of Makkari and DCEU’s Cyborg. No way to accelerate global philanthropy hands-on without this trinity.
Cover image: portrait of the artist photographed by Drew Altizer, courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery; all other images photographed by Jeff McLane, courtesy of UTA Artist Space.
Visit the artist at Conrad Egyir and on Instagram