His unusual pathway, his taste for art and the boldness of his ideas make Paul Sika a unique artist on the photography scene. It is this photographer that Cécile Fakhoury Gallery is showing from the 1st of December to the 19th of January. The exhibition offers “Lilian’s Appeal”, the second and latest series of the Ivorian photographer’s work. Paul Sika asserts he is a photographer. It is nevertheless true that he is a writer, a graphics designer, and a director. The photographic approach he has chosen is indeed the one of the stage. It allows him to highlight in a cinematographic manner people and objects, create scenes that one would not see in real life, in which, accessories and makeup are used ; like in a classical painting.
Close to a simulacrum, this approach consists in building an image rather than in capturing it. Furthermore, if there is a path Paul Sika never takes, it is the reportage.
“The decisive moment”, at length, theorized by Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Robert Doisneau’s “the fisher of pictures” are not his register. He prefers going further than reality by giving it a new perception, modifying it, and making it at times grotesque ; playing with the ties between fiction and reality, playing with the real, its codes and clichés. Sika brands his work Photomaking, and there is no better word to define with as much appropriateness his process. He takes a photo like one would make films. Journeying on the frontier between the filmmaker and the photographer, he is a photomaker. The photographic experience in itself represents one step of the picture construction process, it is neither the essential part, nor its conclusion. Indeed, his photographic work consists in first writing a story, as a meticulously detailed script. Then follow the casting, the location scouting, the setting out of props, the direction of lighting, the spatial positioning of actors, their postures, their height, their volume, their costumes etc…; It is not uncommon for him to have rehearsals prior to principal photography. The post production and the printing conclude this process.
The artistic commitment to the creation of the image shines at all stages. His artistic culture, his mastery of the visual vocabulary and his overall elevated sense of imagination watermark his work, going from Ivorian popular culture to contemporary painting via mythologic scenes. Mythologic scenes. All is said. That’s it. Paul Sika’s photos and characters draw from a mythology imagined by the photographer ; that of a world, in which, some inhabitants, known as the “yelenists”, are striving for the attainment of “Paisley”. These characters, who could have their match in Greek and Roman mythologies have for names : Joue Rose, Papillon, Mami Momi, Mousse Man, Dandelia, Marmite Mousso, Fanico Sow, Alphabet, Mister Tout-Mignon, Lilian, etc…
Marmite Mousso is a young woman with a strong passion for cooking and has the ability to turn some stones into precious stones. Alphabet dreams of marrying Fanico Sow, the most courted young lady of the tribe. Mister Tout-Mignon, a yelenist with an eccentric taste for fashion, meets Papillon with whom he shares a concern for the future of children. Lilian, a music lover, is the only character who has attained Paisley; hence becoming a Royal Yelenist who guides other beings towards Paisley. Each photo is therefore a freeze on a phase of the character’s story. Here, Mousse Man clings onto Marmite Mousso. There, Mister Tout-Mignon, a model the time of a flash, strikes a pose for the photographer. Over there, Alphabet, never far from Fanico Sow. Yet, It is Lilian’s Ensouffletoutoute that is the object of curiosity. Beyond the story arcs told in every photo, it is the question of artifice and language plays that are touched upon in Sika’s work. These photos, made in Abidjan from December 2011 until October 2012, offer to the visitors the opportunity to initiate a personal reflection upon the flow of forms and themes in the photographer’s work. Paul Sika produces not many pictures and prints in limited edition. If he has opted for the transparent as his preferred medium, it is because he favours the lightbox to show his creations ; these extra-ordinary scenes for photos even less ordinary.