AFIKARIS Gallery Goes Blue for Cameroonian Artist Moustapha Baidi Oumarou's 1st Solo Show in Franc
Presented from October 2—November 2, 2021, Un Monde Bleu unveils a series of a dozen new paintings, bearing witness to Moustapha Baidi Oumarou's interpretative use of the color blue as the artist calls out a message of peace and harmony.
October 2–November 2, 2021
Having brought to light the works of Cameroonian artists Jean David Nkot (Human@Condition, May 29—July 7, 2021) and Ajarb Bernard Ategwa (Kwata Saloon, August 28—September 28, 2021), AFIKARIS Gallery unveils its third solo exhibition, a showcase of a dozen new works by emerging artist Moustapha Baidi Oumarou (b. 1997, Maroua, Cameroon). On view from October 2—November 2, 2021, Un Monde Bleuputs in perspective and revisits the use of the color blue in art, as the artist subtly addresses ongoing sociological and political issues, all-the-while conveying a sense of peace and harmony.
For “humanist painter” Moustapha Baidi Oumarou, blue evokes a dreamed, ideal world, in which the color, most often associated with peace, grows enshrined with a healing virtue. Eager to confer a defined purpose to his oeuvre – that of bringing people joy, inviting them to focus on the positive aspects of life – blue is the main support in his work. Mirroring the humanist approach that characterizes his overall artistic language, Baidi Oumarou communicates a message of joy, harmony, solidarity – and peace. The scenes of daily life that adorn his canvases, moments of calm in which his characters appear to be at a standstill, draw attention to the essence that brings them together, shining a light on notions of family, friendship, and togetherness. The flat, outlined, and monochrome surfaces turn away from any form of ornamentation, instead pointing to a simple, pure feeling that brings the seemingly distinct shapes harmoniously together.
Cliché idéal (2021) is the embodiment of this harmony. In this quiet family moment, the characters gather at the center of the canvas. Around them, a deep blue inundates the environment seemingly enclaving the group, yet perceptibly enveloping it instead. The characters, all but disturbed by their surroundings, turn peacefully to the viewer, as a feeling of warmth and togetherness slowly emanates from them. Revisiting a long tradition of family portraits, one embellished by representations of wealth, Baidi Oumarou’s stroke is definite, pure, as he turns the focus on the essence of his characters – the bonds that tie them together – rather than on their wealth. Stripped of their superfluous belongings, they exert a holistic sense of plenitude, one that extends beyond materiality.
More than an enduring message, Un Monde Bleu is thought as a nod to the health situation the world has experienced and continues to experience since 2020. Wrapping AFIKARIS’s 130-m2 space in this very color blue, the exhibition space becomes a haven of peace, extending a reflection on our way of approaching others, one that has been significantly altered by the pandemic. With social distancing measures and the obligation to wear a mask still enduring, a widespread sense of fear, distrust in some cases, has been generated, thereby redefining social interactions. Particularly sensitive to these collateral effects, the artist subtly points to the inequalities emerging from the wide range of government responses to the pandemic, throughout Africa and on other continents, where restrictions, and the resulting seclusion, have proved tougher.
Circumstantial, common snapshots of life, his canvases do not only look back to a lost distanced past, rather carrying a message of hope that togetherness will follow from this passing moment of isolation. Through his faceless characters, anonymized yet universally recognizable, differences are erased: the markers of physical and social barriers are taken down, leaving space for individuals to emerge. An unsaid homage to the children in his city’s poorest neighborhoods, his art is an ode to people’s deep desire, and ability, to once again live in harmony. Aptly expressing these themes in Ma bicyclette blanche 1 (2021), Baidi Oumarou skillfully translates a sense of movement from a character that appears to stand still. In doing so, he instigates a notion of progress, of improvement, the potential and ability to move towards a better future.
Ultimately, Un Monde Bleu is not only the artist’s, but also his viewer’s, dreamed world – an ideal, shared universe where people forget their differences and live in harmony and peace.
In parallel to the exhibition, the work of Moustapha Baidi Oumarou will be showcased at the 1-54 contemporary African art fair in London, on view from October 12—17, 2021.