The 2024 Pirelli Calendar by Prince Gyasi, presented in London today, is entitled Timeless and celebrates people who he 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 colours and sharp contrasts which have made him famous, are for him “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.
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. 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.
“All the people photographed have been able to recognise 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, do not go along with what society2 thinks, are not influenced by age, fame or money, and develop their own talent in an authentic way. They do things that appear extraordinary to many but are normal to them, and canchange 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.
Set against a bright turquoise background, Yussif is pictured playing with miniature versions of some of the items that appear on the Calendar’s pages: a key held by Bassett; pieces of a clock from Campbell’s set; pink ladders climbed by Gorman; a blue suitcase carried by “Man of Honour”, actor, director, DJ and producer Idris Elba.
Global superstar and actress Tiwa Savage is “Resilience”; writer, director and producer Jeymes Samuel is “Visionary”; entrepreneur, former footballer Marcel Desailly is “Focus”; and singer, artist and actress Teyana Taylor is “Future Forward”.
Gyasi plans each of his shots meticulously, composing images that are more like painting than photography. He chooses each person with care, develops the idea for his set design and draws it, before the renderings are created and the set is built. For the Calendar shoot, the process involved the creation of diverse elements, from a melting clock to a giant red heart.
“I know how I’m going to put the talent in my canvas,” he says. “Everything is done before. You always have to think of a Plan B, but I don’t like doing things at the moment because it can seem kind of messy for me.” With one shoot in London, Gyasi chose to have a second in Ghana to represent his country’s culture and natural resources. “Ghana is a special land,” he explains. “It is the gateway to Africa where you can find everything: cacao, gold, bauxite, oil… I wanted to bring Pirelli there and reveal a new world through a Calendar that will last forever, perhaps creating new opportunities for development. “ After Botswana, where the 2008 Pirelli Calendar was shot, it is beautiful to go to another African country, discover its culture and meet the people there. It is the most peaceful country in Africa. I think it is a special place and you will feel its energy when you go there. It was inspiring to shoot there on location and to be able to convey how the country works.”