LEFT. PABLO PICASSO, TWO WOMEN RUNNING ON THE BEACH (THE RACE), 1922, Oil Paint, Gouache on Plywood, 32.5 x 41.1 cm, Musee National Picasso, Paris, France
RIGHT. SALIFOU LINDOU, LA PLAGE, 2022. Acrylic, pastel and collage on canvas. 200x250 cm.
The painting Deux Femmes courant sur la plage (1922) by Pablo Picasso drew Salifou Lindou’s attention for years. Whilst he saw the image in numerous exhibition catalogues and art books, this work became his favourite one by the Spanish master. In La plage (2022) he revisits this painting in his own style to create a work explicitly alluding to the original while also being a part of his personal artistic style.
Picasso’s artwork is characterised by a perceptible movement that looks to be itself the subject of the canvas. This movement is conveyed by the two swimmers: “because they run, their feet and legs, their arms they stretch out in front or towards the sky become longer and more muscular, while their heads become smaller; the anatomical disproportions are therefore proportional to their gestures, amplifying what is related to running and restricting what is less important in relation to this activity. This is "surrealism", since these deformations accentuate the representation of the main subject - the race - at the expense of the secondary elements.” (P. Dagen, Picasso, 2011). The movement in itself seems to become the main stake of the work and this is specifically the dynamics transmitted by the image that creates an intriguing continuity between Picasso and Lindou’s creations.
With Lindou, dynamics expresses through the sinuous lines running through the ensemble of feminine figures that also constitute his visual signature. This is a double line at the centre of the compositions where "Salifou essentially apprehends man in his silhouette, a conceptual and aesthetic element of his work, one might say. His works, with their mostly schematic forms and sinuous lines, are extremely vital and full of textures, shapes and harmoniously suggested masses'' (Paul-Henri Souvenir Assako Assako, "La Ligne trouble", in Salifou Lindou Fouanta, 2022). The dynamic line thus transcribes a dancing gesture that is reflected in the movement felt by the characters.
The restlessness of the figures also stems from the disproportion, taken from the original, that characterise their limbs. Referring to Picasso's mannerist features, the two half-dressed figures are presented as "nudes in the process of transformation" (P. Dagen, Picasso, 2011) that acquire a playful aspect. This characteristic is carried over into Lindou's work, reinforcing the freedom of gesture emanating from her personal approach: "In this game, which is ultimately artistic creation, everything is permitted: the artist, playing with a mass of lines, leads them to express themselves only for themselves, to free themselves from the limits imposed by the surface of the canvas, to tear and glue or patch up unsuspected materials. The characters and scenes represented are decidedly indifferent to reality" (Ruth Afane Belinga: "Entre Bricolage de la matière et le jeu vicieux qu'est la vie", in Salifou Lindou Fouanta, 2022).
Lindou's work thus exudes a striking vitality, drawing the viewer into an imaginary world that is completed by the addition of an island of dwellings, absent in Picasso's original work. This island, which comes from the artist's imagination, enlivens the background of the canvas by referring to the artist's own pictorial universe, where urban references are a constant in order to link his pictorial narratives to urban reality, particularly that of Douala - the city where the artist lives and works. To this implicit reference, collages of pieces of newspapers and writings that emerge from the background of the canvas are added. They allow Picasso's work to be updated by referring to the artist's intimate experience and illustrating his way of expressing life through plastic creation.
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