Spotlight Wednesday | Sami Bentil
Sami Bentil is the son of United Nation diplomat of Fante ethnicity and he is popularly known as “Mr Conspirator”. He is a coloured blinded painter who pours his heart, passion and deepest conviction into his paintings, he is also an illustrator, photographer and a leading Pan-Africanist artist.
He is married to Annetta Vickers-Bentil; an artist and co owner of Jah’z Art Private Gallery. Some of Bentil’s beautiful artistic works shows the tradition and culture of the Ghanaian people and these works have received huge recognition both in Ghana and internationally. Sami is noted for his use of Pointilism and inspiration by Surrealism in his work.
He is a talented and perceptive man who didn’t know his artistic potentials until a high priest told him his life’s purpose and that there will be trouble if he doesn’t follow it.
Sami’s inspiration came from a superb mural painting of the (late Kofi Antubam; a great art master in Ghana) sited in the entryway of Accra’s main community center. The mural is based on the Biblical quotation, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is that brothers dwell together in unity.
His formal education was at Achimota school in Accra and he studied under the iconic and Ghana`s pioneer artist Kofi Antubam, who taught him that art can be a tool for bringing the people of the world together in harmony. This became sami’s philosophy ever since. He owns a Bachelor degree in Art from the University of Science and Technology where he studied graphic design.
On the fact that he is color blind and could still paint, when people ask Sami Bentil he replies “Surely sensitivity to colour is essential to art, people say, staring at me. All I can say is that I know that what is seen as a handicap has allowed me to develop and evolve a style and expression unique to me. I suppose it is like a blind man with a stick. I learnt to feel the colours instead of seeing them. I almost find it hard to talk about. Mine is the doing, not the seeing or knowing. I know what you see as blue inspires me. I know when I mix a blue or red, it will be called purple, but I don’t know, and in some ways I don’t care. I just do what I like and go with the feel of it.
Bentil said he has been developing his technique and message on his artistic perfection for a long time. Bentil has very strong views about the value of African art. The beauty of African art is that it is timeless. “In the last 10 to 15 years African art has got some positives. They are recognising the artists. You can’t disregard us anymore. The more our people collect our art it will slowly begin to help ourselves step out of the Western shadow that put a straight-jacket on us”. We need to be judged on the quality and creativity of our work, and that includes our cultural heritage. And yet, in the same breath, I can only say that if we Ghanaians do not celebrate and show our art on international stages, no one else will. They call us primitive, but I feel our lives are more in harmony with nature … I feel our culture, given a chance, has the solution for what is happening today, Bentil said.