Hand painted Movie Posters from Ghana

Ghanaian film posters, particularly the hand-painted posters from the 1980s and 1990s, have become noted for their imaginative and unique artistry. They have been exhibited around the world in galleries and museums in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Chicago, and across Europe.

In the 1980s, thanks to the invention of video recorders, the first small cinemas came up in the Greater Accra Region in Ghana. In those years the cinemas were often mobile. Their operators used to travel in the whole region with a selection of movie cassettes, a TV set, a VCR, and a generator, going from one village to the next to show their films. To draw attention to their performances, they announced them with colorful hand-painted movie posters, painted on recycled flour sacks. These poster paintings were provided by the local film distributors who collaborated with commissioned artists and sign painters.
The posters are, in effect, a visual time capsule and reveal much about Ghana and West Africa as the 20th Century ticked over into the 21st. Quite a few posters in this collection illustrate the tension between modern Western Christianity – introduced by colonialism – and local faiths and belief systems, Mythic versus Magic forms of religion.

The golden age of hand-painted film posters was facilitated by military dictatorships banning printing presses, stymying the mass production of film posters and stimulating demand for one-off versions.
In the early 2000s this changed, and the onset of digital technology meant ways of watching movies began to evolve. The heyday for these posters was the 1990s and early 2000s; after that, video and DVD culture ended and the demand for such unique posters stopped.