persona: Yéanzi

24 April - 20 June 2015 ABIDJAN

Yéanzi lives and works in Bingerville, near Abidjan. This rural environment is a studio for him since it is outside, in his neighbourhood, where he first looks for encounters, listens to and collects stories, which he later reinterprets within his works. He records sequences, in which he frames gazes, attitudes and bodies in motion. Then he paints the portraits of those figures and silhouettes, which belong to his everyday life. This close and tangible social network is the starting point of his art. Once he has noticed a person, he shifts his focus to the latter’s personality, his or her inner image, which is expressed through dialogue. For instance here, nicknames distribute roles: a pseudonym allows a member of a gang to distinguish himself from all the others. The use of a false name is a way to convey a message and at least as much an attempt to direct one’s destiny.


The ”Tout-monde, tout-quartier” informs the universe of young people living in districts of Korhogodougou, Berlin, Vietnam, and Beverly Hills. All these places reflect a free, creative, spirit, which is related to territories, remote and fantasised references that reach through to and echo one another within each enclaved area. This fury, this energy, passes through music, rap bands, dance in music videos, sport brands, football shirts, snapping and clicking of fingers, which correspond to mastered signs, codes and salutations. Finally, from the Bronx to Barbès via Poy, Abobo or Adjamé-Bingerville, from the transposition of a ghettoised reality to another, destinies cross paths.


For the individuals to tend toward their remarkable identities between reality and fiction, like a stage with all the figurants, Yéanzi uses their accounts and records their stories on a canvas covered with press cuttings, snippets of news, which he paints and blends in successive layers, passages and tumults. In a painting made without a brush but with fire, and while enduring the passages of the flame, plastic becomes colourful and transforms itself, leaving little deposits of its material on the support. As if trying to unravel the mystery of what gives us the force to constantly redefine ourselves, the combustion acts like a balance between the mind and the body, weighing what his lost, what resists and what blends.


Yéanzi links all the faces and postures that he recreated to a story, which resonates like a canon in music. He rewrites each individual’s image through two voices, which correspond to the person’s memory, his or her past, and his or her projected becoming. Pseudo identity is like a mask, a cover. It is a lie of hope, which holds all the aspirations and dreams, from banality to a desire of singularity.