Saint Akua is the alter ego of, Milton Keynes based artist, Stephanie Takyi. Takyi’s journey as Saint Akua began as a result of her fascination with portraiture. The artist sketches and draws in brightly coloured oils straight onto the canvas, inspired by Pre-Raphaelite artists.
The Noire Flower Boy series, from which the works in MK Calling are taken, challenges narratives of black men and how they are represented as hyper-masculine and aggressive, especially in light of the recent increase of police stop and search in London. On these portraits of friends, the artist states: “I wanted to show the parts that I see, their nephesh.” Nephesh is a Hebrew word that is translated as ‘soul’, ‘body’, or ‘breath’. “Words from the Bible form the basis of my work and I draw inspiration from finding the meaning of translated words. I was drawn to the idea of painting a symbolic nephesh of a person. My Ashanti culture and its use of symbolism play an important role in my paintings. We use symbols to remind ourselves of wise words past from our ancestors.”