In spite of time or geography, uprisings across the planet have always reflected a specific contestation of power, a break with established principles, a demand for change, in accordance with the evolution of mentalities and of society itself. In the same way, art conveys the voice of these evolutions in their multiplicity. It is therefore through the exhibition « Figures of power » at the Afikaris Gallery in Paris until August 14, 2021 that the Nigerian contemporary artist John Madu and the Senegalese painter Ousmane Niang confront their readings of power.
If Ousmane Niang looks at the relationship between the dominant and the dominated. John Madu changes the platitudes of control and launches a discussion on identity. A subtle way for them to use art as a weapon and take a stand.
Between creations that sometimes reflect figures of strength by the clear differentiation between man and the anthropomorphic or erect creatures that Ousmane Niang represents in his paintings to bring out the embodiment of power while maintaining a visual detachment between the solid and the fragile, between individuals who suffer and those who do not react. An approach to put the viewer in a role-playing game in front of the power struggle as to maintain his political approach and highlight the power games. He plays with the codes and sometimes uses innuendo while maintaining a specific taste to these creatures intended to be scrutinized. His works are not only meant to be contemplated, but to push the feeling of power.
As for John Madu, his works offer a capacity to his characters. He frees them from all social norms and changes the narrative so that everyone is allowed to be whoever they want. His works are as much gestures towards history as they are towards African youth and the influence of pop culture. As he paints his friends or rethinks artistic creations, he seeks above all to imprint history. This history is his own, but also the narrative of youth, deafened by a globalized culture. In his works, he distorts reality in order to make it fit what he can say about it and questions the development and insistence of identity while obscuring the boundary between the feminine and the masculine as if to question current thinking about gender. With his brushes, John Madu shows a personality that demands to be liberated while creating a break with custom. The exhibition « Figures of power » is open to the public until August 14, 2021 at the Afikaris Gallery in Paris.