Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is presenting a personal exhibition by the Togolese artist Sadikou Oukpedjo for the first time. Anima assembles his wooden and ceramic sculptures, pastel drawings on paper and paintings. A focus on the body and the influence of the spirit reveals and expresses a half-man, half-animal duality. His representations incorporate the power of the invisible, the unknown and the hidden. This artist analyses the world, models nature and seeks secrets that he may use. He is a magician, a master, an illusionist and a savant. The essence of life inevitably transforms and transcends the world of ideas.
In tales and mythology, objects come to life and animals can speak. Man, who is aware of his dual nature, attempts to access his own knowledge through cosmogony, rituals and witchcraft. The Anima exhibition explores relationships between humans and animal forms, as well as between animals and a human forms. Soul-searching regarding the beginning, evolution and assertiveness, the artist translates the stages of these revolutions. He undermines the images produced, inventing other possibilities, those he is able to perceive.
His paintings or frescoes are traces of a history, of the imagination encompassed in folk stories with beasts concealing human souls. The proof: transformation into animal archetypes. Sadikou Oukpedjo draws the outlines of a repressed emergence. He captures what growls and highlights this ‘between states.’ Everything is immobilised in his sculptures sourced from trees.
Within his painted scenes the subject has a tendency to disappear, at times the silhouette seems to fall, to founder, to disappear in a struggle or duel between two entities. At other times, the figure suddenly arises like a revelation. It almost seems to be asserting its full existence. Metamorphosis of the material, the forms takes place leading to a new composition of the living thing. The process, the transformation is expressed in this polymorphous work imparting the signs of the change in the physical body and its psyche.
Skulls, undefined bodies gradually progress towards substance. In this representation of the imperceptible, the mirrored appearance adopts a characteristic, distinguishing features and signs of a fragmented identity. Through the portrait of a hybrid creature close to us, the work casts doubt on its ancestry. The artist adapts the history of the exodus through the image of the head hoping to find the place of rest, finality.
The installation in the centre of the gallery comprises dozens of enamelled faces, slithering on a single path marked by their advance, attempting to escape or to get closer to each other. This device creates a dialogue in several phases, with several voices from a single shattered body. On used wooden boards, in strata, this spawning is analysed empirically like a scientist seeking to distort reality to find an absolute truth. White, smooth heads, on a steep, abrupt path. The ensemble conjures up a slowly swirling line, ready to engulf the whole thing.
The pastels on paper, the monumental sculptures outside, the large canvases, illustrations, ceramics and stones reflect an inner state, in the tortuous silence of the ‘between oneself.’ This morphological, anatomical study is related to the spiritual. The gesture and expressiveness of Sadikou Oukpedjo’s work is repetitive and precise, as well as spontaneous. His forms are guided by the doubts and apprehensions of the world in his eyes. For him the animal world represents a source of study vital to man finding his place in our societies. Man now mechanises all his production, after using animals to progress, sometimes losing certain values, traditions and precepts of nature.
The creature that Sadikou Oukpedjo brings to life in his works represents an archive of human consciousness fuelled by the issue of his primary origin, to move toward an uncertain future.