This is a first for the Afikaris gallery: a single plastic artist for an exhibition in the new 130 m space2 inaugurated in January in the heart of Paris, a stone’s throw from the Center Pompidou. “It was logical and very important for me that this first solo show be dedicated to Jean-David Nkot with “Human@condition” », says Florian Azzopardi, founder and director of the place.
“I discovered him in 2018 and I was immediately impressed by the strength that emanates from his paintings, especially his large formats of the series “The Tortured Face”. I then spent a week in his workshop, where I was able to better understand the person and his work, which sealed our collaboration and our friendship ”, he adds.
Importance given to resilience
Born in 1989 in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, where he lives and works, the artist exposes his human condition until July 7 at the gallery. A set of canvases – and shovels – which explores the relationship between body and territory, playing on transparency. The work focuses on the exploitation of raw materials and its consequences on human lives, with supporting maps and figures.
“The data that adorn my paintings bring another level of reading. I call “maps molecules” this structure which links data and keywords together. Around a central word revolve various information », says Jean-David Nkot. For this exhibition, the artist was particularly interested in the mining situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), showing how certain African countries are prisoners of their own wealth, to the chagrin of local populations.
With an important place given to the notion of resilience. “For a long time, I portrayed the pain of the people I represented. This time, I wanted to praise their courage and their strength. I was interested in those who stay in their country and fight for a better life, despite the mismanagement of mineral resources by the States ”, underlines the visual artist, graduated in 2015 from the Institute of Fine Arts of Foumban (west), considered by Cameroonians as “The city of the arts”.
Jean-David Nkot’s work is “Highly respected in his country and exerts a strong influence on young artists who, for many, had been used for several years to spend whole days in his studio”, explains Florian Azzopardi. Illustration of this growing local location: the artist wants his works to be usually premiered in Douala.
Faces often “eaten” by cards
Any work must have an entry door and an exit door, considers the artist. The composition and the colors represent the first, the meaning the second: “If the viewer is primarily attracted by the aesthetics of my paintings, the information disseminated is a help to understand what is really going on. “
Children are very present in the works presented. Faces often “eaten up” by maps, direct and penetrating glances which call out to the visitor. “These are people who don’t cheat with their emotions, says the plastic surgeon. Children induce the shock necessary to lead the viewer to question himself. “ A work, despite everything, bearer of hope, which invites to overcome the differences by showing other trajectories of life.
Inspired by Cameroonians Hervé Youmbi and Jean-Jacques Kanté for aesthetics and composition, Jean-David Nkot does not forget the influences of the British Francis Bacon and Jenny Saville, of the South African Marlene Dumas and of the French Philippe Pasqua for the treatment of bodily violence.
It also marks his more recent interest in data analysis, which prompted him to take an interest in Narrative Structures of the American Mark Lombardi and Maps by the Swiss Thomas Hirschhorn, hence his works almost saturated with maps, numbers and names of raw materials. “I want to shake the conscience”, concludes Jean-David Nkot.
Exposition « Human@condition », by Jean-David Nkot, at the Afikaris gallery, 38 rue Quincampoix, 75004 Paris. Until July 7, 2021. Monday to Saturday 11 am to 7 pm. Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free entrance.
For a virtual visit of the exhibition, click on the link https://afikaris.com/pages/human-condition.