In Ouagadougou, Adjaratou Ouedraogo’s paintings have besieged the Rotonda of the Institut Français in an exhilarating solo. An opportunity for the artist to share her transformative art with her community and to send a message of healing, love and hope which resonates far beyond borders.
With a distinctive verve – an expressionist style supported by an endless capacity of experimentation – she occupies a unique position in the West African art scene. As a self-taught artist, she speaks from a place where sincerity and free expression prevail on dogmas and trends.
Amid unrest due to several crises (social cohesion threatened by terrorism and a worldwide pandemic), the woman artist stands as a solid flag-bearer. She proudly holds the emblem of a generation determined to use art as a tool for peaceful – albeit brave – resistance. In her continuous search, she meditates and reflects on her personal journey as well as the chaos which has thrown thousands of displaced families on the paths of an interior exile.
Her works consist of an intricate and sensorial layering of textures, bold patches of colors and consistent drawing, bringing about personal questioning and collective narrative. Her oeuvre references her crossing through sorrow and happiness. One can feel altogether, loneliness, doubt, anxiety as much as support, confidence, and self-determination.
Upon entering the space, a series of animated scenes unfold the lives of a community, thus creating a magic vibrant circle. The show culminates into a central monumental piece, Résilience.
A horizontal strip punctuated with numerous sequences runs along the walls: Adjaratou suggests considering the whole display as a storyboard. She indeed has an experience creating pictures films. It seems like she transposes here the art of sequencing a script and her sense of staging and filming. There exists a great fluidity which allows rolling from one picture to the next, as well as finding some elements echoing between two distant canvases: patterns, colors of an abstract ground or a specific object.
Her characters present themselves in their very truth: incomplete, sometimes off-balance, always genuine and moving. Their many attitudes, their static or contorted postures, speak like an alphabet of non-verbal communication. Circular and fixed eyes, elongated limbs, reclining heads offer a variety of expressions which are amplified by the fresh tones generously applied. These interiorities spread on the surfaces may as well be a variation of the artist’ self-portrait, more specifically in the person of a child. She also explores the complexities of family ties, her pursuit of maternal affection and the challenges of parenting and educating. Finally, her paintings record her own versatile mood materialized in light, color, and movement.
What is obvious is her will to open a conversation with these characters: “I need to communicate with all of them. These are people I already met.” The reason why the eyes – an open access to the soul and heart – are always wide open. Her paintings are living testimonies of true existences transposed in a fictious mode.
A paramount painting, Résilience captures in a single surface, as in a simultaneous modernist collage, several spaces in a broad and uplifting gesture. The immersive canvas (around 10 square meters), suspended like a drapery, releases a huge emotional charge. A vast human epic, seen as through a kaleidoscope, envelops the viewers in a monumental patchwork cloak. It alludes to the proven capacity of a people to reach joy and release after overpassing difficulties and grieving. A people capable to overcome situations of crisis with dignity. Résilience celebrates in an invigorating language togetherness while taking a stand for unheard voices. It underlines how critical it is to reinforce the collective sense and avoid the dislocation of our communities.
Adjaratou Ouedraogo painterly dexterity can be sensed in a video projected on the back of the giant canvas: this verso reveals the tridimensional features of her practice. The images of this footage document the process of creation, one that generates a strong physical endeavor and a danced movement. The moving pictures bring on the surface the depth of her performance, its unfolding through time and space. Face A and B of this Resilience are thus completing one
Due to last one month, the exhibition Resilience is also conceived by the artist as a charitable initiative. Adjaratou is raising attention on women’s crucial role at this moment and will generously dedicate a subsequent part of the sales to the support of vulnerable women and aid to fight cancer. At the start of the month of March which sheds light on the struggles of women globally, we can applause this creative mind for her sorority. Let us make her poetic and humanist call for solidarity heard by the artistic family at large.
Resilience by Adjaratou Ouedraogo March 5th – April 3rd, 2021.
Institut Français de Ouagadougou. www.institutfrançais-burkinafaso.com