From November 29th to December 18th, we are glad to be participating - for the first time in the Untitled Miami art fair with a solo show devoted to Jean David Nkot's new series untitled The New Hercules.


If he deals, since 2020, with the exploitation of raw materials across the African continent and the human consequences thereof, Jean David Nkot brings forth in his new series The New Hercules the strength and beauty of the bodies which he depicts. While he still evokes ore extraction, he focuses here on the anatomy and resilience of those who work in the mines, erecting them as contemporary heroes.

200x285 cm
Acrylic and silkscreen printing on canvas

For Nkot, these new Hercules are those who run the contemporary economy. Akin to the multifaceted Greek divinity, their abnegation and suffering comes at the service of others. Just as the demigod was said to achieve insurmountable tasks – freeing the people from desolation – to get his own redemption, today’s heroes extract the raw materials that ensure modern societies’ shared comfort, be it at the hands of an ever-exploitative market economy. Recording his own Odyssey, a contemporary iteration of Homer’s Twelve Labors of Hercules, Nkot frees them from the weight of their work, emphasizing their triumph over a hostile environment. 

A timeless force emanates from his imposing portraits as the bodies tower over the backgrounds of his large-scale canvases. The territory, perceptible in pastel hues, leaves its mark on the bodies, inscribing visible, even if discrete, scars. Mirroring painting tropes of the Renaissance era, his human figures are sacralized, put on their earthly pedestal. The perceived tragedy of their fate leaves room for the sculptural and grandiosity of their anatomy, and persona.

Throughout 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. 

While stressing the underlying economic stakes, Nkot demonstrates how raw material, its circulation, and its scarcity directly impact broader global societies. This voracious and energy-consuming resource exhausts those who exploit it as it does the lands that host it. Outlining the continuity to feed consumer culture, the artist chooses the figure of the car battery to embody these ores. The incarnation of both the production and capture of resources, it is the perfect metaphor for the Apple of Discord in Nkot’s modern myth. Revisiting the ancient tale told to be at the origin of the Trojan War, this contemporary apple of discord is a source of conflicts, political games, and environmental disasters. 

In sum, The New Hercules sheds light on these news heroes, lending them a new destiny by hailing their recognition and protection. If Nkot ties political and economic dimensions, he enriches his aesthetic with other preoccupations, making ecology a new milestone in his fight. Thus, by anchoring The New Hercules in mythology and art history, the artist replenishes the archives of contemporary times, calling for an alternative future History.


29 November - 4 December
Booth C55

For any additional inquiries, please contact Michaëla Hadji-Minaglou at michaela@afikaris.com 

For press related demands, please contact Roxane Latrèche at roxane@annarosathomae.com