Herve Youmbi

Born in the Central African Republic in 1973 and raised in neighbouring Cameroon, Hervé Youmbi discovered art as a child. First he fell in love with drawing, then, in short order, painting and sculpture.

As a teenager, he began taking formal art classes. From 1993 to 1996, he studies at IFA (Institut de Formation Artistique), in the town of Mbalmayo, Cameroon’s only dedicated art school at the time.

At IFA, Youmbi took art theory. This leads to an interest in installation art, which he pursued, through both practice and research, at ESAD (Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg) in France, where he spent one year (2000-2001). While in France, he produces his first work in a medium that has since become central to his practice: video.

Since his earliest days at IFA, and in all of the media in which he has worked, portraiture has played a pivotal role in Youmbi’s oeuvre. Focusing on the human body as an expression of everyday experience in the postcolonial city, Youmbi asks fundamental questions about the urban experience generally speaking, about the cities he inhabits, about cities he passes through and others he dreams of knowing: places that are both the subject and the medium - the raw materials - of his practice.

Hervé Youmbi is a founding member of Cercle Kapsiki, a collective of five Cameroonian visual artists established in 1998. The K factory, the collective’s home, based in New Bell, one of the poorest but also one of the most dynamic districts of Douala, is a flexible space, experimental and open to a wide range of collaborations. There, the collective shares its passion for the arts with city dwellers who otherwise have little access to such things. The K factory is also a laboratory for artists from different disciplines. It welcomes young creators interested in developing experimental forms of expression, as part of a residency programme in which they work with established practitioners. Via this initiative, K Factory seeks to effect radical change in a country whose government shows no interest in arts education.