The Souls of Black Folks
For his first solo exhibition in Africa, Roméo Mivekannin deploys a process of eloquent sculptural conversation. From one work to the next, the compositions of the canvases are in constant dialogue with a complex visual history made of direct references to classical painting and to the stereotyped images that defined the representation of black people in 19th century Europe. The artist draws his inspiration from photographic archives and iconic paintings emblematic of the history of Western art.
Hi Roméo thank you for talking to The New Current, how are you held up during these very strange times?
It’s clear that we are living in strange times. Funny times, if I can say that…as in weird. I feel worried and sad at the same time. I find that the mask is something that really stops us from seeing and communicating with one another. We are sent back to a form of mutism. So, I feel quite pessimistic about this social intervention that is so restrictive. I hope that all this doesn’t lead to other restrictions of our liberty.
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?
Obviously, I’ve had to adapt my day-to-day living and change the way I do things. My relationship with the world changed during confinement. To describe this as a new creative inspiration, I don’t know, but obviously it has influenced the way I create. Creation is a form of release for me, so I created a lot during this period. It’s important to find an escape outlet, from ourselves, our surroundings, even our close ones sometimes.
Congratulations on the news of your first solo exhibition, are there any nerves ahead of this exhibition?
This exhibition takes place in the Côte d’Ivoire, where I was born, so symbolically it’s very important for me. But like a boxer before a match, there is a tension that mounts. It’s all part of the game.
"My artworks naturally contain some of the person that I am, and I think that when we look at the works we have access to a part of this knowledge."
Where did your interest in art come from?
I don’t know if I could talk about an interest in art, but more of a necessity. I trained as an architect in the beginning. During my studies I met an artist, Patrice Charton, who advised me to study the “Beaux-Arts”. However, for my parents, being an artist wasn’t a career. But I continued my studies, during which I used drawing, collage, montage, animation... So it all started with that meeting.
What does your art say about you as an artist?
I would say that it’s very difficult to put into words. My artworks naturally contain some of the person that I am, and I think that when we look at the works we have access to a part of this knowledge.
And finally, what do you want people to take away from this exhibition?
An exhibition is an open door to a world, it’s an opportunity for new encounters, to forge new links. Needless to say, anything that people take away from it will be interesting as it is a meeting between my works and their own stories.