Baptized By Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana
This exhibition contains information about how movies, economics, and religion mixed in the 1980s & 1990s to inspire larger-than-life posters in Ghana.
Baptized by Beefcake presents the work of 22 artists whose posters tell the story of how Western movies not only became symbols of modernity, but also vehicles for religious experience. Each artist’s signature style reflects Ghana’s rich tradition of painting, as well as the influence of Western commercial graphics portrayed on VHS and PAL box covers. The eye-catching, sometimes shocking graphics reference a hybrid of indigenous and Pentecostal symbology, where Rambo and the Terminator become messengers of moral ideologies in a larger-than-life mashup of pop culture and religion.
This show focuses on the “Golden Age” because the posters from this period were meant for a local audience—they were aimed at attracting rural Ghanaians to a new type of technological pageantry and storytelling. After the year 2000, tourists began to express interest in these fantastical objects, driving the prices up and creating a new market where artists painted these “posters” explicitly for export. This exhibition only shows posters targeting locals, highlighting regional styles that emerged between the coastal and inland areas, different artistic hands that became famous during the period, and the types of visual signifiers Ghanaians expected and loved to see in their own advertising.