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Ghanaian Artist Joseph Awuah-Darko Accuses Nigerian-American Artist Kehinde Wiley of Sexual Assault

In an Instagram statement which he equalled as an act of protest, Awuah-Darko said Wiley had "inappropriately" groped him in June 2021 during a dinner orgainsed by Ghana's Creative Art Council

British-born Ghanaian artist, Joseph Awuah-Darko on Sunday made very disturbing allegations against fellow visual artist, Kehinde Wiley, indicating he is considering legal action for a two-time sexual assault by the latter.

In an Instagram statement which he equalled as an act of protest, Awuah-Darko said Wiley had “inappropriately” groped him in June 2021 during a dinner orgainsed by Ghana’s Creative Art Council, at the Noldor Artist Residency in Accra – an institution he founded in 2020.

The incident according to the post, happened in front of another dinner guest while he was ushering them to the bathroom.

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“In the first assault, I was inappropriately groped by Kehinde Wiley who proceeded grab my buttocks with his hand before then saying something along the lines of ‘what is this thing?’. This happened in front of another dinner guest, while I was politely ushering them both up flight of stairs to use the bathroom. The act was categorically unwelcomed and unprovoked – Wiley had barely known me for more than 2 hours by this point and I wearing a modest dark green kaftan.”

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The second assault he said was much more severe and violent, although he did not provide details for that alleged incident.

Awuah-Darko also said he had not reported the case back then as he had difficulty confronting the alleged assault and also because of Wiley’s global recognition as a gay man and prevalent anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment in Ghana. But he says he’s come forward now to seek accountability and that hopefully, other “victims” can do so too.

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“In the years that have followed this abuse, I have gaslighted myself, consumed with shame, and even tried to harm myself. But now my shadow is screaming and echoes the truth of what I have experienced. I truly hope that the era of “untouchable men” is coming to an end.”

He told the Art Newspaper he would consider legal action although it’s not yet clear which jurisdiction he would do that from.

The allegations seem to be the latest to hit the art space and one of an artist against a fellow artist.

Wiley, a Nigerian-American known for his 2023 portrait of African presidents, and many more star-studded portraits like that of former US President Barrack Obama has denied the allegations, reacting to the post the same day.

“Someone I had a brief, consensual relationship with almost three years ago is now making a false accusation about our time together,” Wiley wrote. “I kindly ask for privacy as I work to clear my name.”

The allegations appear not new, only this time, Awuah-Darko has named the alleged perpetrator. In March he posted a video on his Instagram, stating that he had been assaulted by “someone who outranks me in privilege, power and even perhaps, the capacity to fight back – especially in the art world.” In the post, he had asked for contributions for “projected legal fees,” with a target of $200,000.

“It SHOULD NEVER happen to anybody. I have decided I will not be silent and I am willing to see it through to justice. To protect others from suffering the same fate. And more so I’m not afraid to say I need help – from my COMMUNITY,” he wrote in that March Instagram post.

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