BODO FILS BBM; ART FOR OUR TIME.
By Nii B. Andrews.
The existential angst generated by the current world situation requires a continued questioning of both the status quo and the status quo ante while we craft a vision for the future.
Currently, the air is thick with conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation and nationalistic claims bordering on jingoism and hubris.
Armed men have stormed a legislative assembly in another jurisdiction.
In our own locale we are now acclaimed international pace setters for COVID-19 management even while we have intermittent water supply and over the last 60 years have not gotten to grips with malaria, typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, meningitis, TB etc.
The way forward is to “cognitively empower” people, by encouraging them to think analytically.
Critical thinking preferably laced with a good dose of sardonic wit is a great antidote to the vagaries of the COVID-iots of any demographic.
Bodo Fils is a Congolese artist who utilises an off beat and provocative language to address the existential realities of his people.
“My creative approach, reconciling tradition, respect for ancestors, modernity and openness to the world, is shared by the Congolese people through my poetry and is the bearer of hope for the rebirth of my country”, he explained.
Surrealistic elements abound in his paintings as a tool to interrogate secular, religious and moral issues from a modern perspective. His use of color is brash, his brush strokes are strident and his detailing emphatic.
Humor is an ever present undercurrent, a reflection of the same in modern Africa where a pompous coterie of public officials, opinion leaders, dodgy clerics, and polyester clad celebrities crowd the public space while producing a continuous efflux of unilluminating verbiage; a masterclass in banality; a perpetual audition for chameleons.
But not an insignificant number of the general populace know that the emperor is naked.
Even if they are not categorically certain, they know that something is fishy; things are not as they are reported or described.
The chasm between the reality of their lives and the glorious accolades from the rented press – foreign or local, is never lost on them.
Bodo Fils exposes the void produced and inhabited by these “big men/women” even as he charitably explains, “To be well dressed is pretty … But what am I doing? How do I act and why? What do I say to others?”
His canvases transmit his ideas; his visions and sometimes even his dreams; perhaps he is haunted by a “zoonotic future” – one filled with crossover viruses.
We cannot help but wonder if the animal hosts are the ones he so graphically depicts; elephants, monkeys, cats, giraffes – will they transform man, annihilate him?
The question he appears to pose with forthrightness is, what will the historical substance of all these individuals – “big men/women” be posthumously based on when they without fail succumb to the sweep of time.
How will they be remembered, will their humanity survive in the collective memory?
Bodo Fils hints strongly that it cannot be business as usual, things must change.