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Movie theaters and handpainted movie posters

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Movie Theaters and hand painted Movie Posters in Ghana are a cultural component of this West African state.


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 colourful hand painted movie posters. These were provided by the local film distributors who collaborated with artists and sign painters like Daniel Anum Jasper, Heavy Jeaurs, Leonardo, Kwesi Blue, Salvation or Dallas who created for each movie a matching billboard.[1]

Sign painters[edit]

The artists and sign writers looked first at the films that were mostly made in Ghana or Nigeria, and then developed their film poster. For the mobile cinemas, these works had to be sturdy, cheap to produce, and light in weight because the cinema operators had to move around with the material. Therefore, the artists used a cheap, but very durable and light linen underlay which they gained from Ghanaian flour sacks. This material adhered very well with their oil and acrylic paints and the posters could even be hung outdoors when it rained. With their bright colors and an iconography adapted to the Ghanaian audiences, these paintings immediately caught the attention of the people and made them much more likely to go to the cinema than the normal posters that were printed in Nigeria.[2]

New developments[edit]

Since Ghanaians now buy or rent their films on DVD and prefer to watch them at home, they no more go to the small cinemas. Most of the movie houses had to close in the recent years, and the few that are left can barely afford hand-painted movie posters, they rather use printed ones. Therefore, in the Region of Greater Accra, there are hardly any cinemas left who still use hand painted movie posters. Many artists who used to work for the film distributors have turned to other tasks. They are painting street signs that are still very popular in Ghana, and in the Greater Accra Region some are also assisting other artists like Paa Joe or Kudjoe Affutu in painting their figurative coffins, palanquins and small sculptures. Some sign painters, such as Heavy J., Moses, Jasper, Farkira or Leonardo,[3] also work for the international art market, where Ghanaian movie posters as well as the figurative coffins are shown in exhibitions of contemporary African art where they are getting more and more attention.[4]

Ghanaian movie posters in exhibitions[edit]

  • 2012/13. Hors-champs , Musée d'Ethnographie de Neuchâtel (MEN), Switzerland.
  • 2013. Les Hors-champs de l'affiche , Musée d'Ethnographie de Neuchâtel (MEN), Switzerland.
  • 2011. Movie posters from Ghana , Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich.
  • 2011/12. 'Miracles of Africa', Hämeenlinna Art Museum, Hämeenlinna and Oulu Museum of Art, Grandma, Finland.
  • 2005. Killers op canvas , Affichemuseum Horn, The Netherlands.


  • Wolfe, Ernie, Clive Barker (2000) (ed.): Extreme canvas: hand-painted movie poster from Ghana , Los Angeles: Dilettante Press / Kesho Press.
  • Wolfe, Ernie III (2012): Extreme canvas 2. The Golden Age of Hand-painted Movie Posters from Ghana. Los Angeles, hand-painted movie poster from Ghana , Los Angeles: Dilettante Press / Kesho Press.
  • Tschumi, Regula (2013): Hors-champs: genèse de l'affiche de l'exposition in: Gonseth Marc-Olivier et al. (ed.), Hors-champs. Eclats du patrimoine culturel immatériel. , Musée d'Ethnographie Neuchâtel MNM, Neuchâtel: Atelier PréTexte, pp. 216-227.
  • Gilbert, Michelle (2003): 'Shocking Images: Ghanian Painted Posters', in: Musée Dapper (ed.), Ghana Yesterday and Today. Paris: Edition Dapper, pp. 353-379.
  • Wendl, Tobias (2004): Filmplakate aus Ghana, in: . In Kramer & W. Schmidt (eds.), Plakate in Afrika. Frankfurt a.M., pp. 77-81.
  • Wendl, Tobias (2002): Try me! Advertising and Visual Culture in Africa , in: Wendl, Tobias, (ed.), African Advertising Art. Wuppertal: Peter Hammer, pp. 12-27.


  1. Wolfe Ernie, Clive Barker: Extreme Canvas. Handpaintedd movie posters from Ghana. Los Angeles, Dilettante Press/Kesho Press, 2000.
  2. Gilbert, Michelle: Shocking Images: Ghanaian Painted Posters. In: Ghana, Yesterday and Today, Musée Dapper 2003, pp.353-379.
  3. Tschumi, Regula: Hors-Champs. Genèse de l'affiche de l'exposition. Exh. Cat. Hors-champs, Atelier PréTexte Neuchâtel, 2013, pp. 218-221.
  4. Barlovic, Ingo, Wolfgang Stäbler: Faszinierende Werbekunst: Gemalte Filmplakate aus Ghana. Ed. Heinrich-Barth-Gesellschaft, ISSN2195-9951.

External links[edit]

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