Like a blank page ready to be filled, the open space of the gallery has become a meeting place for these four artists, who transformed it into a shared workshop so to speak, that is an invitation to dialogue and exchange between their different creative approaches.
Yo-Yo Gonthier’s art is freely inspired by the exploration in general: quests, discoveries and travels that are as much concrete as they are fantasised. By means of film, drawing, engraving, photography and performance, he invites us to a historical reading of forms and universal matters. Le nuage qui parlait, which is a participative work, collects dreams of men. It records passages and encounters, places and secrets. Through both actions and symbols, forms lead to the rethinking of the dreaming state here and now, within its repetition or experience in different geographical sites. Yo-Yo Gonthier is a composer of lines, senses and sounds: the materiality of his works results from those. A paper print appears from an engraved object, as if it were photographed or pinned. Reproducibility testifies to a return to the essence of forms.
The photographic image can be a scene, a play or a narrative that above all unfolds within and out of its frame. Nestor Da began composing from a photograph that he took. He made a chosen reality enter his studio, the laboratory of his work. This piece of history is the starting point: then only he processes to painting, cutting out and sometimes even tearing up. Each step of the realisation partitions the ensemble: he creates through successive layers, passages and handprints, that until he transforms the image up to a point, which tends, and reconnects it, to his imagination. A work by Nestor Da is a tale, a photocollage where distortions of the world and poetry cohabit through the freedom of painting.
Cheikh Ndiaye’s piece Redoute is a reification of questions pertaining to architecture, photography and consumption. This rudimentary shelter is inhabitable. It is a form, which is fit for the world. Both light and resistant, this structured assemblage is made out of reclaimed timber and embedded with basins, parts of television sets or other plastic objects. The entrance leads to an extension of the inner space, the den. We can easily access to it. Cheikh Ndiaye makes us inhabit his installation for a moment, a passage, which puts our conditions as viewers to the test. With Redoute, he blurs our perceptions and our relation to space, street and housing. While researching archives, he realised a work on the transformations of the urban environment. The everyday scenery constantly redefines itself and influences our ways of living, which also in turn make our structures, our containers, evolve.
François-Xavier Gbré’s photographs reveal a passage, a trace. The unexpected object or detail that brings back history is always present, moreover actual. His research, which comes from an exploration that is as much aesthetical as it is historical and social, is concerned with territory, urban mutations and architectural resilience as a narrative. No element conceals another; they make sense together as if it were the mechanics of the image itself that was presented in this artist’s work. Since 2015 Gobélé, which is a neighbourhood within the ghetto area of Cocody, has been undergoing deconstruction. It disappears little by little. The voids, apparent breaches and parcelling of lives that François-Xavier Gbré discreetly collected, have become matter, which allows him to restore through stages a mirror of history. Almost belonging to the past, it resurfaces through details and an entirely new landscape takes shape one photograph after another as an act of existence.
All the works on display evoke history, archive, landscape, architecture and narrative. The image altogether revealed makes sense as it induces an immediate reaction. It is produced by the elaboration unfolding before our eyes. Installations, moving images and even lighter formats are the ephemeral forms of these artists-citizens engagement. This exhibition tends to a survey of the current evolution and narration of our societies through the specific processes and outlines of each discourse. From one work to another, the explored territories leave an open space for discussion between the artists and participants. Présences is a journey through singular universes, which were made out of research, collected documents, highlighted tracks and performed gestures. This path opens onto an invisible, yet strong, relationship between the forms of the works, even though they come from very different creative processes. Through the emphasised plasticity of Nestor Da, François-Xavier Gbré, Yo-Yo Gonthier and Cheikh Ndiaye’s artistic chronicles, each and everyone can revisit the presence of the works and their strata of reading.