Born in 1965, Salifou Lindou lives and works in Douala. This member of Kapsiki circle grew up in Foumban called “the city of art” by many. Since his childhood, the masks and statues of artisans and of the palace museum has been his daily life. He started creating very early, and today he is one of the most recognized Cameroonian artists on the national and international scene. The artworks of Salifou Lindou are a mix of materials "I have the art of manipulating things, I like to tinker". Tireless researcher, Salifou shapes, structures and destructures metal sheets, leather, steel, paper, etc. He is constantly experimenting new elements to make the most of them. At first sight, one might think that the work of this artist runs counter to current contemporary art trends. At a time when many artists are coming back to figuration or hyperrealism, this artist seeks the perfect mastery of the abstraction of his subjects. “Like a kid” as he says, Salifou expresses the need to manipulate forms, to explore materials and finally to invent scenes. This ability to shape the lines, positioning eyes, mouth, nose and any other part of the body of his characters at the right place without calculation, highlights his perfect mastery of drawing and the expression of the freedom that emanates from him. In this game, which is ultimately artistic creation, everything is allowed to Salifou: the artist, playing with a heap of lines, leads them to express themselves only for themselves to represent characters who are indifferent to reality. During this manipulation, this do-it-yourself, the artist ends up touching the secret and the mystery of life. Life, our life, is a game, but a vicious game. His works, in a mixture of media (drawing, painting, collages, etc.) tell us its complexity. Salifou makes play together abstract forms and complex figures. This complexity, it is possible to see it through brown lines that intertwine to form atypical characters on which he sticks elements, which become stigmata. We can also see labyrinthine lines, the labyrinth of life, a life in which the Man who is at the center of Salifou's work, must fight, bet, and win or lose like in a casino. The life of human being is daily rotating around this fight and this game of perpetual strategies. His drawings show strong but fragile silhouettes at the same time, in chaotic worlds where man releases his impulses, conjures his anguish and unloads his aggressiveness. Through Lindou's work, we can confirm it again: artistic creation and life would have a common origin and trajectory.
Your work mainly consists of drawings. Has it always been the case? I have first started by drawing and portray my friends and family in a hyper-realistic style. When I was a teenager, in a desire for emancipation and confrontation, my art took an abstract turn, working with raw material dump. I was creating very different pieces with papers, aluminum boards, and used fabrics. However, a decade ago, I came back to my first love: works on paper. It was obvious for me. I was willing to reappropriate the codes and principles of a technic that is naturally more academic and come back to something figurative by representing daily life scenes.
In your works on paper, you very often use pastel. How do you explain this choice? As I wanted to keep the freedom I used to have when I was doing my collages and sculptures, the pastel appeared to be an obvious choice. Dry pastel, being extremely light on paper allows me to remain free. The pastel’s softness also allows me to escape the paper’s fragility and to play with the strength and intensity of the lines. With pastel, my hand becomes the only tool that creates my drawings and transcribes Cameroonian daily life scenes. With my finger, I smudge the lines, unify the plains and shade the colors. The pastel is worked like that, directly with the fingers on the paper, as would do a sculptor with clay. The hand, in the extension of my spirit, is the gatekeeper of my intuition and transcripts in a very pure and spontaneous way what I imagine.
What type of pastel do you use? I want to keep the purity of the medium, by using mainly black and sanguine pastel. The minimalism of the chromatic spectra allows me to stick to the essential and to focus the reading of my works on the social and intimate states that they tend to translate.