Ligne de départ: Salifou Lindou

26 February - 29 March 2022
Lindou conceived the ensemble of artworks featured in Ligne de départ, having in mind the violence stirring the northwest of Cameroon. He transposes this conflict into the study of the switch from stillness to movement.

The concept of ligne de départ (line of departure) is used in ballistics to describe the trajectory according to which a bullet follows. Thus, it is under this title that Salidou Lindou’s solo show decomposes and analyses movements - physical or emotional - taking departure as a starting point.  


The pastels by Salifou Lindou appear from an energetic and spontaneous tangle of lines and strokes. The artist puts forward the duality of human beings. Between strength and weakness, between immobility and movement, between peace and chaos, the conflict sets itself up. From internal fights to TV debates, going through political instability that leads to an exodus, the work of Lindou talks about and starts from daily life. It is both introspective and fed by his observation of society. Lindou conceived the ensemble of artworks featured in Ligne de départ, having in mind the violence stirring the northwest of Cameroon. He transposes this conflict into the study of the switch from stillness to movement. He opposes the muteness of the shapes displayed on paper, to the eloquence of their gestures. If pastel is silent, he carries the voices of the world. The conflict Lindou alludes to is not only geopolitical. It is universal. Beyond one contemporary historical event, he decodes the mysteries of a millennial being: humans.


From the intertwined lines emerge human figures. Fragile in appearance, their entire being is traversed by vines that root them. These men and women of flesh and lifeblood seem to be on the verge to move. As if a spell just broke their immobility. The sinuous and dancing lines inhabiting the environment recall Van Gogh, a reference to the instability of the work and the beings themselves. Everything suggests the idea of movement: still the central figure seems ready to tilt, to face its destiny. The fighter costume - boxing gloves on - embodies this inner strength. Lindou’s self-portraits as a boxer, illustrate this internal fight between force and reason, as they are the metaphor of his own force and daily victories. These fighters are still and leave room for their internal struggles. In contradiction with the Freudian theory of an unconscious impossible to control, Lindou’s characters are their own master. They triumph over a hostile environment. It explains the presence of only one fighter, which could appear antinomic at first sight. 

This introspective work does not cut the artist off from the outside world. Playing on the antagonism between movement and immobility, he makes a parallel between the energy running through his protagonists and the rhythm of the city. Sometimes through the maze of streets and the cars wandering in them; sometimes replaced by the comfort of a familiar interior; sometimes punctuated by plant elements; the city is itself prey to its own duality - between agitation and calm, presence and absence, prefiguring the departure as a return to nature. 


Salifou Lindou is an observer of the society around him and feeds his imagination with everyday scenes. He infuses his characters with the same passion that governs people: from sports predictions to political debates. Thus, the series of politicians, a satire that began in 2020 and that Salifou Lindou has continued to explore since, makes fun of their mimics, their clownish gestures and their grandiloquent verve. The artist erases the distinctions between these men and women. They all wear the same costume. Are they gangsters, musicians or prisoners? Salifou Lindou's mischievous pastels answer: "all of the above." The white silhouettes that stand out on the black paper mark a turning point in this emblematic series. More than ever cinematic, it embodies this quest for movement and recalls the cinema of Charlie Chaplin. No sound escapes from the paper when observed. Only the gestures are perceptible. And yet, Salifou Lindou's politicians are very eloquent. So much so that their words become audible. Gestures bring the debate to life. It turns an inanimate image into a theatre of lively exchanges and speeches. The Ariane's thread in his work, Salifou Lindou once again stages duality. The eloquent gestures oppose the silence of the fixed drawing. The dynamic within the work makes the work itself. It provides it with a sense of accomplishment.


Ultimately, if Lindou does not deal frontally with the Cameroonian conflict, it impregnates the ensemble of the works featured within Ligne de départ. The Anglophone Crisis, occurring since 2017 in western Cameroon, opposes the secessionists to the Cameroon government. The first ones are calling for the independence of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ambazonia, in the face of the latter's inactivity in addressing social problems. 


By devoting a central place to gestures, Salifou Lindou shows the contradiction between passive and active actors, underlining the inner struggles of human beings and how the latter are influenced by society. Salifou Lindou's work is like life itself: sensitive to external events, even if he does not speak about them directly. It reflects the way the artist perceives the shocks around him and how he externalises them through his art.