A very sunny group show, in the grayness of our days, gives us the colour, light and comfort that we so badly need! Three African artists – Henri Abraham Univers, Prince Galla Gnohité, Méné – put love, happy vitality and sweet dreams in the spotlight.
Prince Galla Gnohité, Solidarité, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 130 x 170cm.
PRINCE GALLA GNOHITE
Born 1989 in Ivory Coast. Lives and works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The theme of “street children” — a phenomenon that is both common and often scandalous — can be found in the artistic creation of visual artists from a number of countries.
In the Ivory Coast, this was crystallized in the political and institutional crisis which destabilized the social structures of this country for several years and swarms of children and adolescents into the streets, condemned to live and to “play” at war, but with real weapons. We call these children “microbes” or “grazers”.
Fortunately, peace has returned, weapons are now toys and the children of poor neighbourhoods are, like all children in the world, in search of age-appropriate pleasures and diversions, their ingenuity making up for their lack of resources. How the faces and attitudes of these children have changed!
We no longer see hunger or fear, but simply the innocence of children playing, sometimes marked by solemnity. Children whose favourite playground is the street, for want of another.
It is possible to trace commonalities as to the variations on this theme, which goes from ABOUDIA to Armand BOUA, via YEANZI, but beyond the theme, the treatment reserved by each differs significantly…it is not possible to confuse their works.
Prince Galla Gnohité, Course de pneu, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 140 x 125cm.
The children of GNOHITE are no longer afraid, they have fun and delight in the joys of their youth with all the spontaneity of this blessed time of life, carefree and cheerful, despite the ugliness of the world around them.
The artist insists on capturing and preserving this happiness, this fullness, by referring to education, to the preparation of the adults of tomorrow, who had the chance, like him, thanks to his family environment, to enjoy a balanced education, who put his personal development first and did not interfere with his artistic aspirations.
In a swirl of large flat areas of primary and saturated colours (blue and yellow, mainly) whose playful character is reinforced by a myriad of dots and small circles of colour, the main characters are sketched, suggested, schematized and perfectly recognizable for those who have seen children playing in the African sun and dust.
Prince Galla GNOHITE considers Grobli ZIRIGNON his teacher and from him, he borrowed the technique of scraping and washing out paint that was projected onto the canvas using a pipette, an instrument familiar to children.
The bicycle and its inevitable accidents and flat tires, the worn tires that we push, hoops for adults, to give the impression of driving a car, football, of course, but also struggle, or for the more relaxed, reading; a list of the daytime activities, themes of GNOHITE’s work, which sometimes may be disrupted by the attack of a stray dog!
This work is distinguished from that of its predecessors by that happy vitality that we perceive from the start and which makes you want to dance in the dust and lead children from all over the world in the farandole.
Prince Galla Gnohité, Complicité, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 160 x 100cm.
Because, beyond the technical mastery, the chosen subject and its treatment, there emerges an infinite tenderness in Prince Galla GNOHITE’s works, a form of nostalgia for the artist from a carefree and happy time in his life seen through the prism of transpositions.
Having trained from 2000 to 2004 at the Regional Center of Arts and Crafts of Abengourou (CRAMA) in the Ivory Coast, Prince Galla GNOHITE, who is barely thirty years old, has acquired an indisputable technical mastery of his subjects, of the desired and obtained effects and of the composition of his works. He completed his training with the artist Youssouf De Kimbirila dit Le Quetzal, who believes GNOHITE shows great promise and a brilliant future.
GNOHITE also displays his talents in sculpture, design and decoration, and works in abstract, figurative and surrealist styles.
The curators were not mistaken in selecting Prince Galla GNOHITE for important artistic events in the Ivory Coast, even though he was not yet twenty years old. His success has continued, receiving extensive attention for his exhibitions in Europe as well as other African countries.
The exhibition is on view at Out of Africa Gallery (OOA) until the 2nd of May 2021.
Sylvain Sankale is an art critis based in Dakar, Senegal.