Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is pleased to present Mbindoum kaw gue, a solo show by Kassou Seydou.
Almost all of them are watching us. They are these disproportionate beings, endearing giants, convening us in their unsolved anticipation. They invite us to sit among them on a gallery’s bench made from the same wood as the trees depicted in the paintings, thus underlining the temporality of Kassou Seydou’s artworks. The artist portrays a paradoxical and dual state where headlong latency and a leap forward exist on the same level, the temporality of a contemporary Senegal familiar to the artist.
The kings have returned from their rural exodus. The metropolis – and its delusional mirages – lacks opportunities for this generation of smartphone users. Kassou Seydou notices a new exodus. This one has the particularity to occur in reverse. The kings are coming back to the village and the land they have left behind, a corollary attempt to gain something out of this move. Blossoming from one branch to another, a plethora of shops reclaimed from the city, witty displays of fashion “Made in China” from synthetic and colorful materials, now make up the hybrid rural landscape. In order to counteract the lack of constructions, the immediate surroundings become the primary structure for tertiary businesses. Plans and functions commingle, the setting becomes a tool and vice versa.
Kassou Seydou’s paintings embody the very idea of this equivalence. The artist purposely dismisses the perspective effects based on hierarchy; the depth is elsewhere. Every being and object coexist on the same graphic and spiritual plane, a plane whose fundamental component is a line, in conformity with the artist’s aesthetics. To Kassou Seydou, each life and destiny is an inscription in the world. As for writing, it is a line that has been distorted to reveal an image, an idea and a meaning. Therefore, writings are always simultaneously spiritual, social, political and economical. Maneuvering as a semiology specialist of daily life, through his works, the artist materializes the outlines of these contemporary scenes and their insidious ailments.
In On rit et c’est genial (We laugh and that’s great), a triptych portraying two idle men, we can sense a feeling of resignation: we wait, we laugh and we are content. Yet, history is in the making in this rural environment: the actual meaning of the Wolof saying “Mdindoum raw gue”, the title of the exhibition. The implicit story of the once dynamic and creative Senegalese cotton industry that led the way for the excellence in textile craftsmanship such as the one found in Thiès tapestries. Nowadays, cotton is sold unrefined for export to Chinese companies. No added value is generated locally; the raw material is transformed in factories abroad only to return manufactured as trendy apparel. Layers and layers of clothes and trinkets wiping out the now foolish hope of the resurgence of a valued craftsmanship, a stimulating creativity, and emancipation through sustainable trade.
The spirituality of day-to-day poetry fuels Kassou Seydou’s paintings with beauty. They are vibrant and contemplative but also filled with irony and criticism of the society they are inspired from. The artworks get more complex in terms of composition and juxtaposition of the references. They can be read as a sequence of articulated microcosms, fragmented understandings of a bigger picture that we should each assess and choose a part to play in.