Group show ‘Constellations’ at Gallery 1957 considers alternative forms of life

Artists reject human dominance in 'Constellations Part 1: Figures On Earth & Beyond' at Gallery 1957’s space in London.

Artwork of human figures, sunflowers and newsprint, from exhibition ‘Constellations Part 1: Figures On Earth & Beyond’ at Gallery 1957
Denyse Gawu-Mensah, Golden Sun, Freedom Dancing, 2023, Led lightbox, digital collage print on pvc banner, 65 x 47 cm
(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957)

In the fall of 2023, Ghanaian artist Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson contacted fellow artist Lisa C Soto, also Ghana-based, to discuss possibly participating in an upcoming Gallery 1957 exhibition in London, ‘Constellations Part 1: Figures On Earth & Beyond’. At the time, the latter wasn’t sure because she was concentrating on pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi. Also, since 2018, she has focused on exploring projects outside the commercial gallery space. 

A bit of convincing by Thompson and a meeting with curator Katherine Finerty later helped seal the decision of Soto, whose work explores ‘cartography, inbetweeness, and vibrational forces’ using materials such as Mylar, wire, fishing line, and hardware in her early work. 

‘Constellations Part 1: Figures On Earth & Beyond’


Lisa C. Soto, Relational Realities, 2017, mixed media, variable dimension

(Image credit: Photo: Christopher Wormald, courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957)

Having known Thompson and co-curator Nuna Adisenu-Doe for seven years, she ‘trusted [their] instincts about the show’, Soto tells Wallpaper, speaking from her base in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region, where she is currently in a Ph.D. programme at KNUST, continuing her research into her themes as an artist. ‘And that [if] they wanted me involved… it’d be nice to work together and that it’d be something special and not just another show.’

‘Constellations Part 1: Figures On Earth & Beyond’ opened in March 2024, the first iteration of the two-city group show, at Gallery 1957’s space in London. Co-curated by Thompson, Adisenu-Doe, and Finerty, the multimedia show explores the rejection of human-centeredness or domination within a particular time and looks at alternative forms of life, ecologies, and existence. 

The exhibition features Soto’s installation Relational Realities [coined from a phrase by Swedish-American physicist Max Tegmark]. The piece comprises wire, hardware, seashells, and black-eyed peas, and is, she says, a ‘rhizomatic, abstracted notion of two islands merged into one’, a reflection on the islands of her Puerto Rico and Jamaica heritage. 


Ayomide Tejuoso (Plantation), My Sin is Blue series, (detail of TBC), 2022

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957)

She adds that the work ‘holds themes of cartography, non-hierarchies, and a suggestion of a magnetic field manifested by the interdependence of the structure as in interwoven communities’.

The show also features work by over a dozen artists, including Adelaide Damoah, Modupeola Fadugba, Larry Amponsah, Johannes Phokela, Zak Ove, Andrew Pierre Hart, Rashaad Newsome, Denyse Gawu-Mensah, Phoebe Boswell, Sarah Meyohas, and Lois Selasie Arde-Acquah, winner of the 2023 Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize, an initiative by Gallery 1957 for female artists based in Ghana and its diaspora. 

In selecting the artists who are a part of the show, the co-curators didn’t only include those whose work spoke to the themes and ideas in the show. ‘We were also looking at artists whose work did not just fit within the context of the show but [are] currently pushing the boundaries of what an artwork within an exhibition could look like,’ explains Adisenu-Doe. 

Another highlight of the show is Andrew Pierre Hart’s hand built wooden speaker, 2023. The artist describes his work as focusing on ‘the symbiotic relationship between sound and painting’. His work also includes a mix of sculpture, mural making, installation, performance, and film. 


Alberta Whittle, Listening for all that has been forgotten, 2023, Digital collage on brushed aluminium, 80 x 120 cm

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist, Gallery 1957 and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow)

A noteworthy feature is Zak Ove’s Anansi Dance, 2023, made of vintage Kente Swatches, antique piano keys, recycled Ghanaian glass beads, and copper nails. His work explores the interplay between old-world mythology and what he calls ‘potential futures’, a space where he interprets existence into the fantastical. 

The exhibition programme in London includes workshops hosted by Amponsah with students of neighboring educational institutions. The idea is to ‘engage the community’, says Adisenu-Doe. ‘And other aspects of exhibition making that might not necessarily be within the gallery space.’ The exhibition's second part will be held in Accra later this year. 

The exhibition also celebrates the creative relationship between London and Accra. It coincides with the eighth anniversary of Gallery 1957, founded by collector Marwan Zakhem on 6 March 2016, the anniversary of Ghana’s independence. The gallery was established initially to support the careers of artists from Ghana and West Africa and its diaspora; the gallery has since expanded to include artists from the Global South and its diaspora, with three spaces in Accra and a fourth in London. 

‘Constellations Part 1: Figures On Earth & Beyond’ is on view at Gallery 1957 London through May 25