Group exhibition curated by Sten Kadji

September 24 – October 15, 2022

Fabien Castanier Gallery is proud to present a group exhibition in collaboration with gallery owner and curator Sten Kadji, featuring work from five burgeoning contemporary artists from the west-central African country of Cameroon. Continuing our gallery’s program of cultivating international artists and introducing them to new audiences, this exhibition strives to highlight the ever-growing and prolific art scene of Cameroon. A new creative era has emerged in the country, with young artists exploring identity and cultural self-determination for a flourishing art market. What began in the 1990s with the establishment of seminal art institutions that provided visibility and community to artists, soon evolved into a dynamic and vibrant scene of image makers who bridge the gap between generations, urban and rural, past and future. With the expansion of artistic and cultural spaces across Africa, contemporary artists now hope to represent the fundamental diversity found within not only the continent but each country and region

The five artists in Tales from Home, who originate from different parts of Cameroon, bring their unique perspectives together with work that portrays the world through their individual lenses. Themes of identity, community, social strife, and personal expression, weave in and out of the paintings in this exhibition. With a masterful sense of time and place, the artists convey a rich and vibrant tableau of contemporary Cameroonian culture and its various regional distinctions.

Jourdan Tchoffo (b. 1994, Bafoussam, Cameroon) is part of the rising generation of African artists concerned with black portraiture and social realism. His unique portraits convey a sense of nostalgia that lies at the core of his artistic message, namely the praise of endangered family values, and the focus on education as the heart of a better society. Jourdan Tchoffo Kuete is gracefully blending the legacy of modern African black and white photography championed by pioneers like Seydou Keïta, Malick Didibé, Jean Depara, Philippe Koudjina and James Barnor, with meticulously colorized interiors that are inspired by Classic Americana and African Colonial Architecture, thus conveying a sense of soft-powered propaganda aesthetics aiming to contrast his direct artistic engagement with the notions of family nucleus, parental responsibility, home education, and social inclusion.

Marie Francine Dongmo (b.1990) is a visual artist who lives and works in Yaoundé, Cameroon. In her work, she presents resilience as a tool for adaptation, resistance, and the maintaining of balance in a society often subject to crisis. She questions the way in which the fragility of young people submits to the tense socio-political climate, and she seeks to shine a light on the extent that failures in education constitute a blockage in the development of the individual in society. Her work, which places the younger generation in the forefront, raising questions of hope and survival in a constantly changing world.

Moustapha Baidi Oumarou (b. 1997, Maroua, Cameroon) is a consious and humanist painter. He renders visions of community and positivity in a vibrant array of colors. Aesthetically influenced by his time working in a silkscreen workshop, Oumarou’s paintings boldly give a platform to those who are forgotten and most vulnerable. The figures in his canvases are often anonymous, through their clothing and gestures are carefully portrayed, and they float in and out of foregrounds and backgrounds that often feature flora and fauna. Oumarou says that the anonymity of his subjects allows them to become a springboard for exploring the human condition; he also focuses on the power of love, which he describes as the “light and source of life.”

Samuel Dallé (b. 1980, Douala, Cameroon) is among those artists who believe that art is an expression of the daily life. With his bold brushstrokes, he immortalizes the magical atmosphere of African cities: on a canvas he brings out what has been buried in his subconscious, offering the viewers insight fragments of his everyday life. His paintings are strongly tinted with a palpable modernity, as Dallé’s work has a voice of its own by clearly illustrating the duality between a rural and modern Africa. Dallé questions the relationship of Man with himself and the world around him. Here, anguish and hope are intertwined to give birth to an energy that reads, deciphers and draws through a prism of experiences.

Abdias Ngateu (b. 1990, Douala, Cameroon) creates work that reflects upon contemporary society, by attributing animal heads to his characters, who travel precariously on modes of personal transportation, overloaded with cargo. Drawing inspiration from urban space and personal experience, Ngateu is motivated by this desire to share with others his most intimate feelings, personal emotions and vision of this chaotic world. In his series “taxi-motorcycles”, Abdias creates scenes of the daily lives of the people of Cameroon. His paintings are an allegory of the urban disorder generated by overloaded taxi-motorcycles, called “Bend-Skin”, well-known in Cameroon. Ngateu’s works are distinguished by his unique and personal way of “animalizing” his subjects, depicting bodies of men with humorous heads of giraffes, lions, antelopes, and elephants. Ngateu explains: “If I represent humans like this, it is because of their way of life, their inhumane behavior towards others. I paint a disproportionate society where the abnormal becomes the norm.”

Tales from Home is presented in collaboration with Sten Kadji, an art gallery owner and, alongside his team, co-curator of various exhibitions at the Annie Kadji Art Gallery situated in Douala, Cameroon. The gallery, which launched in 2004, now stands today as a tribute and celebration to its founder Annie Kadji. Today the AKA gallery’s goal is to shine a light on the most exciting, talented and culturally relevant artists of our time, starting within the African continent. Sten and the AKA team work directly with a curated roster of emerging, mid-career and established artists, exhibiting and championing their work across multiple platforms and markets.

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