A specific strength of Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne‘s artistic practice is that he works with exuberant surfaces. The people he depicts spill out in front of single fields of flowers, drift across vibrant monochromatic shade panels, or sit in discrete foundations made of denim or overhanging texture. Despite these varied features, a thick, internal intelligence pervades her works and makes them simple and recognizable.
The exhibition « Assuming you look like me » presented until August 22, 2021 at Galerie GNYP in Berlin by artist Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne brings a correspondence and experience as a driving and objective starting point on each of the works. This is especially true for the children he depicts after listening carefully to empower them to follow his guide to find their own way.
He then captures this moment on a photo to process it later in his studio in Cologne. He brings about an exchange between singular picture elements through painting and sewing, as well as through mixtures of textures with various characteristics and dark acrylic paints, which he then consolidates to frame a luminous representation of various materials and haptics.
Clearly, Adinkra textures from West Africa abound with eponymous and meaningful imagery, and are echoed with themes, marks and symbols, as are modern textiles such as polyester. With purpose, this thick collection outside the composition takes up the complex cycle of creating Adinkra textures, which are typically woven, sewn and printed by hand. The artist’s skilled methodology and vast specialized repertoire lead to optical dreams, in which the painted and applied layers are barely recognizable. This variety finally leads to the intersection of customary and contemporary, Ghanaian and Western European signs and impacts, and, through the intervention of pictorial themes, to a considerable convergence.
With this inner richness, Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne succeeds in giving life to the characters represented. Nevertheless, he almost overlooks the fact that in his paintings, the most characteristic part of a representation remains doubtful: representing faces as an empty space returns traditional practices. However, thanks to his skill, the distinction is not communicated here by a naturalistic representation of the face. Perhaps, the singularity engages in a game with its inverse – the namelessness – a game that leaves room for our own conjectures about what this person is or might become.
The various exchanges between images, materials and methods. In this way the represented and the viewer create an authentic experience – this is the undeniable heart of Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne‘s work. The generous and figurative interweaving constitutes an organization of global significance intrinsic to the image, which reflects the external effects on the people represented, but which can also communicate their inner life, their expectations, their pleasures and their questions.
Remember that the exhibition « Assuming you look like me » is open until August 22, 2021 at the GNYP Gallery in Berlin.