JEAN DAVID NKOT WAS BORN IN 1989 IN DOUALA (CAMEROON) WHERE HE LIVES AND WORKS.
After a painting A-level at the Institute of Artistic Training of Mbalmayo (IFA), he joined the Institute of Fine Arts Foumban, where he obtained a degree in drawing and painting. Throughout his training in the fine arts of Foumban, he received several artistic distinctions (Best sculptor, installer and painter). In 2017 he joined the « Post-Master » Moving Frontiers organised by the National School of Arts of Paris-Cergy (France) on the theme of borders. Conscious of what his elders can bring him he is frequently in the workshops of Hervé Youmbi, Salifou Lindou, Jean Jacques Kanté, Pascal Kenfack, Ruth Belinga.
Jean David Nkot’s work depicts the human condition. If he used to deal with the theme of migration, since 2020, he is interested in the exploitation of raw materials in Africa and the economical and political stakes underneath. He sheds light on the sufferings the bodies have to go through in order to answer contemporary needs in technological goods within a capitalistic system. He shows how financial interests predominate and took over life itself including humans and nature.
With his work, Nkot compensates for the lack of visibility and recognition of those who work in the shadows. By giving them the status of contemporary icons, he invites us to rethink our economic model to protect Men and the planet together. If a deep sensitivity to humanity has never ceased to tint his work, ecology is a new component in the work of this painter of the human condition. Nkot reminds us that Men cannot be considered independently from their environment and that the protection of one comes with the conservation of the other.
Through his art, Jean David Nkot wants everyone to understand the reality of what happens in different territories. He aims to shake consciences and make people react. His work also conveys hope. It is an invitation to go beyond despite our differences and be inspired by other stories and life trajectories.
2022 Les pommes de la discorde, AFIKARIS Gallery, Paris, France 2021 The New Hercules, Untitled Miami, Miami, USA État des lieux, Jack Bell Gallery, London, UK Human@Condition, AFIKARIS Gallery, Paris, France Le dessous des cartes, Espace Bolo, Douala, Cameroon Corps et Espace, Espace doual'art, Douala, Cameroon
2020 Esprit rêveur, Jack Bell Gallery, London, UK 1-54 Marrakech art fair, Marrakech, Morocco
2019 Voyage en léthargie, Jack Bell Gallery, London, UK
2018 Cartographies mentales, Jack Bell Gallery, London, UK
2021 AKAA art fair, Paris, France 1-54 London Art Fair, London, United Kingdom 1-54 New York Art Fair, New York, United States
2020 Investec Cape Town Art fair, Cape Town, South Africa ORIGINES, collective exhibition, AFIKARIS Gallery, Paris, France 1-54 New York, Jack Bell Gallery, New York, USA
2019 AKAA Art fair, Paris, France 1-54 art fair, London, UK Individual exhibition at Jack Bell Gallery, London Alliance Française de Nairobi, duo show, Nairobi, Kenya 1-54 art fair, New York, USA
2018 INVISIBLE BORDERS, AFIKARIS Gallery, Paris, France 1-54 art fair, London, UK World Bank, Cameroon Métaphore du Big Bang, Carole Kvanevski Gallery, Paris, France Urban attitude Ravy (rencontre d’art visuel de yaounde), Yaounde, Cameroon
2017 SUD (salon urbain de douala IND), Douala, Cameroon Mémoire libérée, National Museum of Cameroon, Yaounde, Cameroon Cheminement, Yaounde contemporary art Gallery, Yaounde, Cameroon Behind the Gate, Bandjoun Station, Cameroon Our Wishes, Léopold Museum, Vienna, Austria
2015 Cape Town Art fair, South Africa Jeune regard urbain II, Doual’art, Cameroon A Contemporary View, World Bank, Yaounde, Cameroon
2014 Ça me dit martyrs, Espace Doual’art, Douala, Cameroon L'eau, Espace Jeunes, Foumban, Cameroon
2013 Salon Urbain de Douala, Douala, Cameroon
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE MAPS YOU USE IN YOUR ART? I use cartography in my work since 2017. My artworks explore the relationship between body and territory and cartography helps to support my subject. The cartography arises from my research and analysis of public data. The map carries my message and invites the viewers to go beyond what they see first. It questions what is currently happening on the African territory and highlights the consequences on human lives. These maps are imaginary. They accompany the story of the person represented. They evoke the cities they have passed through as well as the cities they dream of. Sometimes they analyse the geopolitical situation that affects the lives of the subjects in the foreground. Each canvas is a piece of a story, of the story of the person I am painting. Each painting deals with a different aspect depending on my model and the conversation we have together.
WHY DO YOU PARTICULARLY FOCUS ON MINERS? I’m particularly interested in the richness of the soils of the African continent and how the rest of the world exploits it. The subject of raw materials in Africa is indeed one of my main preoccupations. It is then natural that I came to think about mining and the consequences that ores extraction has on the local territories in terms of ecological and human impact.
YOU OFTEN PROPOSE LARGE-SCALE WORKS AND ALSO MUCH SMALLER AND MORE INTIMATE. HOW DOES THE SCALE AFFECT YOUR APPROACH AND WHAT YOU INCLUDE IN THE COMPOSITION? The scale is not predefined. It depends on what I want to represent and the impact I want to elicit. I use large-scale canvases to showcase several characters from head to toe. I want to give space to bodies, to allow them to move freely. That’s why my smaller sizes are dedicated to closer portraits. I want to give room to my subject and to make it imposing. I want to highlight and increase what is infinitely small. It is about how I make visible those who are invisibilised in a system. I want to show how these bodies and spaces that used to be neglected can take over the canvas, the sight of the viewer. The purpose is not to expose the artwork but the viewer. It is to trigger feelings and emotions in front of this immensity without any possible escape. I'm interested in how the viewer digests the information and how he is invited to think about the questions exposed.
Hence, the scale composition of my works depends on the format. As I want to focus on my characters and give them sufficient space to express themselves and tell their story, the size of the canvas varies according to the angle and close-up adopted.