FROM THE LATIN WORD "RESISTERE: TO MAKE A STAND AGAINST", THE EXHIBITION "RÉSISTE" SHOWCASES WORKS BY SEJIRO AVOSEH AND SALIFOU LINDOU.
The dynamic stroke of Salifou Lindou reveals the inside of human beings, their strengths and weaknesses. The faces Sejiro Avoseh depicts, distorted due to violence and injustice, are the victims of their time, the martyrs of contemporary history. The vocabulary and personal style of the two artists testifies an art in resistance. The pictorial violence reflects the social conflicts and daily horrors, as well as internal conflicts faced by human beings. Whilst Salifou Lindou explores "the infinite resistance of humans regarding the traumas of existence", Sejiro Avoseh witnesses the history of his country, echoing its turmoil. He denounces abuses of power and stands up for a new era of freedom. If Salifou depicts a global fight involving the whole of humanity, Sejiro Avoseh narrows his analysis on specific events.
Thus, "RÉSISTE" puts into perspective the very notion of resistance at two levels, through the gaze of both artists. They free themselves from the established rules and create their own world. They reinterpret the human figure, extending the tradition of the portrait.
In his portraits, Goya focussed on the irregularity of bodies to represent a reality, judged as unrepresentable. He fed his visual universe with popular references to enrich his painting, as well as to provide a time frame. Violence in the arts often expresses a social conflict. Violence is a controversial topic. However, the specific palette the artists develop to depict it enhances their practice and documents their time.
In the work of Sejiro Avoseh, the act of creation is violent in itself. He decomposes and disfigures his characters. He tears and burns his canvases. The artworks become hybrid beings, often made of differing pieces of fabric sewn together, sometimes of newspapers and magazines cut-outs. Cuttings rise from his canvases, like an emaciated and suffering body and as an illustration of the violence the flesh suffers. The canvas here Is an experimentation ground in which the violence of history operates. It embodies and lives the horrors Sejiro Avoseh tells through his work. It becomes the victim of a creative brutality, the flag of the distorted faces, witnesses of their time.
ANIMALS IN CHARGE
From the "Abuse of Innocence" series
125 x 150 cm
Acrylic, pastel, soaked paper cutout on fabric
In his series "Abuse of Innocence", the Teletubbies of our childhood are tarnished and perverted. Their image that is ordinarily soft and colourful, gives way to a post-apocalyptic tale. If Sejiro Avoseh’s universe looks like a dystopia: from the mutinous characters brutalised and turned into monsters, to the imaginary and threatening animals. It reflects in reality, Nigeria’s current political situation. The artist chose these icons from popular culture to embody the innocence of the citizens who are being abused by the police. Some adult male attributes disturb this innocent imagery. Sejiro Avoseh hides them in his composition, beyond detection, as are many symbols of power. He accuses the brutality and animality of the police and fights to end this situation. “We need to stop the abuse now before things get too damaged.” He questions its excess and the consequences through his canvases Floating in Lilies I and II. This ensemble pays a tribute to the people who vanished after the demonstration against the SARS, which took place in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 20th, 2020, also known as Black Tuesday. Sejiro Avoseh underlines: "Following Tuesday, October 20th, a lot of people disappeared. Maybe they are resting among the waterlilies in the lagoon of Lagos?" By focusing on these waterlilies, he blames the police which he previously identified in Mad Police and regrets a generalised violence and arbitrary justice.
Violence and injustices imbue the rest of his work, always referring to the situation in Nigeria. Political and engaged, stirred by the violence floating in the air, the art of Sejiro Avoseh is the art of resistance. He stands up, facing the established system and carries the scream of his generation.
95 x 70 cm
Pastel on paper
The scream Salifou Lindou represents is the scream of human beings: from the original scream marking their birth - the first fear they have to face according to Freudian theory - to the apparition of the duality inhabiting and running them. The artist deconstructs human beings. He exposes them as if the answer to the secret of existence is dwelled in this organic mass, at the beginning of every single being. The twigs intertwining the crooked intestines and gnarled trachea that structure the body, express lightness as well as fragility. Lindou pursues in this way his reflection about the strength and the fragility which runs through humans. Starting from a universal question, the art of Salifou Lindou also includes a personal dimension, between suffer and struggle. His series of self-portraits represent himself with the features of a boxer, illustrating his mental strength. The fragility of the paper and the smoke of the pastel, contrasting with the power of the gesture, underline the human-specific duality, and the tragic aspect of existence.
Salifou Lindou emphasises the tragedy by reinterpreting a Greek myth. Hence, he frees the Minotaure through his Bergères. Diverting from the original myth, Salifou Lindou represents a half-woman half-beast character. The features of the beast mix with the sensuality and softness of the feminine figure. While these two faces make one, linked by the same body, Salifou Lindou interprets, through this hybrid creature, the ambivalence of humans: between fury and reason.
If Salifou Lindou deals with topical issues, he always illustrates the passion and desire to live in opposition to the vulnerability of the body. Internal as well as external fights, stirring the society, arise under his pastels. On the paper as well as on the canvas, Salifou Lindou explores the complexity of human beings through scenes of daily life, fed with references to legends and classics, whilst within modern painting. From Deux femmes courant sur la plage by Picasso to the myth of the Minotaur, his work gives life to characters both familiar and different. Who are these figures turning their weakness into a strength? Why do they seem so proud and combative while they are being exposed to our voyeur gaze? The art of Salifou Lindou has an educative value teaching a lesson of bravery and abnegation. Does the strength only come when we accept our weaknesses?
Together, Lindou’s works compose and track the story of humanity. Between ideological and physical struggles, strength of character and ardour, they are in themselves, an act of resistance.
Thus "RÉSISTE" gathers an ensemble of visceral works, mixing passion and fight. Between violence and chaos, it carries the voice of a generation standing for change. If the searing flesh of Salifou Lindou’s characters promises to reveal the secret of human beings, the dislocated figures of Sejiro Avoseh witness the violence bodies have to go through and the daily horrors causing their suffering.
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