Paa Joe

Regarded as the grandfather of Ghana’s fantasy coffin art-form, Paa Joe is one of Ghana’s most iconic artists. Internationally renowned, his vivid fantasy coffins are prominent features in numerous private collections and museums worldwide. However, the majority of Paa Joe’s work is temporal, often seen by just a handful of people prior to being buried forever.
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Born in 1947 in the Akwapim Hills, within the outskirts of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, Paa Joe belongs to the Ga-Adangbe. In 1960, at the age of 16, Paa Joe started a ten-year apprenticeship with his uncle Seth Kane Kwei at Kwei’s woodshop in Teshie. By 1977 Paa Joe opened his own business in Nungua. In 1989, he participated in “Les Magiciens de la terre,” a group exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Known world-wide for his extraordinary craft, he’s taken part in numerous major exhibitions in Europe, Japan and the United States. His coffins are on permanent display at the British Museum in London, the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Group exhibitions in the US have included Jack Shainman, UTA, Evergold Project, and the American Folk Art Museum.

In 2008, Paa Joe relocated his practice from the Centre of Accra to Kpobiman– at the edge of Accra. He now works alongside his son Jacob Tetteh-Ashong, who manages the Accra workshop where other local artisans who work for Paa Joe develop their craft. Jacob Tetteh-Ashong, along with Paa Joe’s many apprentices over the years, now makes his own unique coffins and artwork. Paa Joe and Jacob have been co-resident artists in Detroit, Michigan (2018), Johannesburg, South Africa (2015), Lagos, Nigeria (2015), Nottingham, UK (2013), and Indianapolis, USA (2002).
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