The Cultural Foundation is staging LOBI LOBI, a solo show by Cameroonian artist and writer Pascale Marthine Tayou. On view are his vibrant thought-provoking art pieces: sculptures, mixed media works, installations, poetry, and photographs. In them, the artist addresses the scarcity and excess of resources in today’s post-colonial environment. He also sheds light on the paradoxes of consumer and material culture. The exhibition will run through 28 January 2024.
The show is named after Tayou’s eponymous poem written in 2020. LOBI LOBI is an expression in the Lingala language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has three meanings: the day before yesterday, the day after tomorrow, and soon. So the exhibition evokes the parallel and cyclical realities of the artist’s diverse practice transcending time and territories.
In the centre of Tayou’s work lies his “play serious” approach to unpacking the post-colonial baggage of his immediate environment. His visual environment is a playground he uses to create mixed structures that connect nature, the artefact, and the bodily. Tayou’s art process is based on the act of accumulation. It means rearranging, rewiring, or rectifying the spiritual and material significance of societies.
The LOBI LOBI exhibition consists of four sections. The Margin to the Centre features Tayou’s creations in which daily objects are turned into living testaments of ecological harm and global political histories. Plastic Bags (2019), for example, reflects on the excess of human residue. Meanwhile, Home Sweet Home (2011) refers to West African colonial history.
The Power Vessels displays Tayou’s distinctive sculptures made of crystal. They reinterpret west-central African “power figures” serving as a container of hidden sacred powers. The artworks evoke satiric parallels between modern Western commodification and West African spiritual protection practices.
For Tayou, salvaging as an art process holds spiritual meanings of continuity and healing. It leads to new interpretations of the material and an effective exchange between community, nature, and the environment. It is well demonstrated by the works featured in the Fantasia Urbaine section. Among the exhibits is a video installation of Fantasia Urbaine, a parade Tayou organised in 2007 to celebrate sauveteurs (street sellers in Cameroon).
Finally, Playing Field spotlights a series of chalk paintings inspired by traditional West African prints. With chalk being a powerful communication tool in the classroom, the works symbolise the fragility of knowledge. They also reveal the colonial history of education in Cameroon.
LOBI LOBI also has a special section for children. Titled BOBO LAND, it invites them to explore the self through the eyes of Bobo, Tayou’s persona of a dreaming child. Here, young visitors can participate in the dream by playing, rearranging, and inventing who they are, what they want to be, and what they will become.
About the artist
Pascale Marthine Tayou (b. 1967, Nkongsamba, Cameroon) lives and works between Yaounde, Cameroon, and Ghent, Belgium. In his first works (drawings and sculptures), he addressed various societal problems. Later, the artist started to combine popular visual cultures and social realities to construct arresting installations. They portray post-colonial African lifestyles and contemporary social, political, and cultural realities across countries. Tayou’s art is profoundly connected with travelling. He calls himself “an explorer who moves across the world to explore the common issues of the global village”.
Tayou often creates his works in situ using local objects and materials. A talented craftsman, he constructs mysterious forms using all types of found objects (cloth, glass, organic matter, consumer waste, plastic, etc.).
Tayou has displayed his art in multiple solo and group exhibitions. These include Bonnes nouvelles (GALLERIA CONTINUA, Paris, France, 2022), La Plage, at Pusterla Vineyard in collaboration with BELLEARTI (Brescia, Italy, 2021), Bossa Bossa (Galeria Javier Lopez & Fer Frances, Madrid, Spain, 2020), Morceaux Choisis au C.E.PE (Doual’art, Douala, Cameroon, 2019), Colorful Line (Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York, USA, 2018), The Conundrum of the Imagination – On the paradigm of exploration and discovery, PERFORMEUM WIENER FESTWOCHEN (Performeum centre, Vienna, Austria, 2017), Earth & Ever After (21, 39 Jeddah Arts, Saudi Arabia, 2016), Africa – Architecture & Identity (Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek, Danemark, 2015), Art Dubai 2014 (UAE), and many others.
To learn more about LOBI LOBI, please visit the show’s official web page.
While at the Cultural Foundation, you might also be interested in looking at the WAVE public artwork by d’strict.
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