The 2024 Pirelli Calendar by Prince Gyasi, presented last week in London, is titled “Timeless” and celebrates people who the artist and photographer believes have made their mark and are destined to inspire future generations.
“We are not born ‘timeless,’ but we become it,” says the Ghanaian visual artist, explaining that his subjects, photographed in the vivid colors and sharp contrasts that have made him famous, are “like superheroes, but at the same time relatable.”
Prince Gyasi is the latest of the 39 artists who have created a Pirelli Calendar and his work constitutes the 50th edition in The Cal’s 60-year history, from 1964 to 2024, taking into account the years in which it was not published, the company stated.
The Pirelli Calendar website features–to more than 90 countries and in 68 languages–photos, audio, videos and the texts of the 2024 edition. Visitors can take a journey into “Timeless” photograph by photograph and explore the project thanks to an interactive guide with backstage photos, in depth material and background information.
When Prince Gyasi was commissioned for the 2024 Pirelli Calendar, he started by thinking about who he wanted to be in it and what they represented to him, building on his own sense of the West African community, the company noted in a press release.
As one of the youngest artists ever called upon to take on the Cal, that meant going back to his childhood and thinking about the people who have inspired him during his 28 years.
It became a story of what, in the artist’s eyes, makes people “timeless,” and Gyasi believes it is about perseverance and integrity.
Of supermodel Naomi Campbell who appears in the calendar under the title “Time Stopper,” he said: “When you look at figures like Naomi, she’s not of my generation, but she’s still an icon in my generation. This can only happen if you’re committed to your work and beliefs.”
“All the people photographed have been able to recognize their abilities and establish themselves. They have found their power, changing their destinies. This is what it means to be timeless. The people who pose challenges (and) do not go along with what society thinks, are not influenced by age, fame or money, and develop their own talent in an authentic way,” said Prince Gyasi. “They do things that appear extraordinary to many but are normal to them and can change their destinies. Even without being in the spotlight, they can change the narrative in their fields or do something different, and in turn inspire other people.”
Featured in the calendar is His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, King of West Africa’s historical Asante Empire, and his royal delegation, photographed at the Manhyia Palace under the title of “Royalty.” The American actor Angela Bassett represents “Altruistic,” author Margot Lee Shetterly and poet Amanda Gorman are “The Blueprint,” and contemporary Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo is “The Chosen One.”
Gyasi dedicated a month to himself with the title “Details.” The image chosen for the cover and one of the months is of the “Studious” young Gyasi, as represented by child model Abul Faid Yussif.
In describing his journey to become a visual artist, Gyasi draws on a host of memories and experiences from his childhood in Ghana—from days spent with his musician grandfather to assisting a portrait photographer in Accra’s marketplaces. He used to visit recording studios and TV and radio stations with his parents, who are gospel musicians.
He didn’t study photography but studied art in the form of painting, image-making, sculpture and carving. And he spent time playing with his computer’s first drawing program and finding innovative ways to create with it.
He aimed to build a style that people could quickly identify.
“I’ve created a bridge between painting and photography,” he stated. “I’m satisfying people who love photography, I’m satisfying people who love painting, so I’m creating a new bridge, which I won’t call just photography, I will call art.”