By Nii B. Andrews.

The Marrakech 3rd edition of 1-54 had the biggest ratio of galleries from Africa to date, with 14 of the 20 participating galleries based on the continent.

The LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery based in Abidjan has always been a regular and important  participant in the fair thus cementing the 30 year commitment of Simone and Gazelle Guirandou-Ndiaye to the arts.

Located at Booth B7 this year, the gallery featured 3 artists; Alun Be, Ablade Glover and Yagor Yao.

LA LUTTE CONTINUE: Yagor Yao, mixed media on canvas, 150 x 150 cm, 2018. Signature and date verso.

Yagor is an active participant in the Abidjan art scene.

His paintings depict several influences which he has cleverly welded into a nuanced visual language that enables him to comment forcefully on the human condition.

He utilizes everyday objects including newsprint, metal plates and sacks. The canvas surfaces are emblazoned with graffiti, scientific formulas and ideographs.

His figures though anthropomorphic appear grossly distorted and ethereal. Perhaps he wants to remind us of the impermanence of almost all things and the fractured nature of life.

Or is he referring to the constant risk of becoming enslaved, losing your freewill – becoming a zombie?

The painting L’Etudiant, has in the foreground a figure wearing formal or business clothing.

But his head is skewered with metal weapons – tomahawk, gun, grenade.

He, now a zombie, appears located within a dark place….perhaps a prison with blood along one wall. But he is not alone, there are two ogres with him.

L’ETUDIANT: Yagor Yao, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2017, signed bottom right.

Is this not a scathing commentary on the narcissism that often accompanies graduates of formal tertiary education particularly in West Africa?

Is it a trenchant critique of the state of education in West Africa?

In La Lutte Continue, Yagor’s figures are so fractured and with an added tortured pontillism that puts the outcome in doubt.

Is there really hope that the struggle will be won?

What forms of organisation and resistance can ensure success against the pox of dehumanization and decay?

Damali with Yagor at Booth B7, 1-54 La Mamounia, Feb 2020.

Yagor Yao graduated from the Beaux -Arts School of Abidjan in 2008.

He was born in Grand Bassam and is currently pursuing a higher degree in Marseilles.

Yagor is certainly an important young artist whose work is collectible and likely imminently valuable.

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