From May 11 to June 24, 2023, Galerie LouiSimone Guirandou, located in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, is hosting a group exhibition entitled “Regards Contemporains“. This exhibition brings together three contemporary African artists, Laetitia Ky, Marius Dansou and Wanger Ayu, with the aim of stimulating the artistic talent of ordinary materials in West Africa, while questioning the complex representation of black women at the crossroads of fashion and art.
These three artists excel in the art of sublimation, diverting materials from their usual uses to arouse our curiosity through creations beyond the imaginary. Their manual expertise and visual conceptions, altered by a subliminal creative spirit, enable them to engage in a transcultural and transhistorical dialogue. Hair, rebar and fabric become the emblems of their art, whose unique treatment aims to update traditions in order to better interrogate them.
In keeping with an intertwining of threads, the body of work presented in the “Regards Contemporains” exhibition reveals the interconnection between traditional practices, communities and their contemporary interpretation. It also highlights a deliberately modern and critical look at the artistic representation of black women.
Through hair sculpture, Laetitia Ky highlights the natural hair of black women to boost their self-esteem and break down beauty standards that favor straight hair. In an even bolder expansion of her art, it is an artistic symbol she uses to denounce gender inequalities and break taboos surrounding the female body. The contemporary artist creates powerful, bold sculptural works with her own hair, wool extensions and wire. Hair thus becomes the mouthpiece for Laetitia Ky‘s activism.
Marius Dansou creates whimsical hairstyle sculptures from rebar. He uses this rigid material, usually intended for construction, to express his art. Inspired by the rich history of West African hairstyles and traditional braiding techniques, the artist appropriates these conceptual movements to imagine new hairstyles. Reinforcing iron loses its rigidity and becomes a simple creative tool for reproducing the shapes and lines desired by sculptor Marius Dansou.
Through his expressive portraits, Wanger Ayu depicts an entire generation defying traditional rules. Fascinated by the traditional weavings of West Africa, cloth is the basic accessory that the contemporary artist uses to materialize his works. With a particular attachment to Tiv A’nger, a traditional Nigerian fabric once used by his weaver grandfather, Wanger Ayu integrates hand-woven fabrics into all his creations. These fabrics come from different communities in West Africa and feature motifs representative of an ethnic group. The artist uses this sense of belonging to highlight the ties that bind individuals from the same community, as well as the diversity and resilience of black women in the face of social imperatives.
The group exhibition “Regards Contemporains” offers a personal interpretation of the world by artists Laetitia Ky, Marius Dansou and Wanger Ayu. They offer us the benefit of their critical eye through their particular sense of observation, and invite visitors to perceive and question the traditions and ideals that implicitly guide our actions.