There’s something about the big blue bus that engulfs and almost overwhelms the painting, ‘Leaving Jamestown’ by Nii T. Mills. The bus is a cavernous, imposing presence. As if there’s a whole other world happening inside it.
And then there’s the boy, clutching his bag tightly, slightly slumped, broken by life but still optimistic… but barely.
He’s leaving Jamestown. Leaving his present life. Looking for a new life.
Mills creates his canvases meticulously – stroke after stroke. Each stroke is deliberate, carefully constructed, inspected, modified until he is happy with its effect. It’s a slow, laborious process. He takes his time to create this world. It’s a world from the reality around him… the everyday realities of sub-Saharan Africa. His reality.
He recreates the exuberance, the humanity, the growth, and the decay with affection. The roofs might be rusty and dilapidated, but they are also warm and vital. His artworks are his love stories about Accra, about life, about being African. They are without affectation, yet profound.
In ‘Leaving Jamestown’ the boy is ready to get on the bus. Anywhere will do. Anywhere but where he Is. The blue bus is his ticket to salvation. A new future. It’s a story about optimism, hope, trepidation.
This is Mills at his best, carefully recreating his world, our hopes, joys and fears – one careful stroke after another.