By Nii B. Andrews.
An important exhibition comprising paintings, in addition to installation sculptures on the Rwandan genocide – all by the Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji, opened in Abidjan last week; it will run until June 28, 2021 at the La Rotonde des Arts.
Masks remain very prominent in Setordji’s visual language; they are almost always present in his paintings with oblique references to the “sculptural idiom” and cubist influences.
The sharp angles and geometric shapes in the rendered figures lend a poignant urgency to his compositions.
Perhaps the ubiquitous masks are persisent questions.
Is life a masquerade? What are the real personalities and motivations of the protagonists? Who can you trust or believe; what is the real picture?
Of course, in our part of the world, those who (t)/ask relevant questions are considered tiresome.
Because, they force us to think – and that is really hard work especially in hot and humid conditions.
Through his choice of vibrant blues, reds and yellow juxtaposed with earth tones of browns and ochre; Setordji insinuates in his often crowded compositions, that deep thought must be the basis of action in the myriad aspects of our lives.
We must always endeavor to penetrate the mask….and ASK in order to uncover the stark reality.
It is in this regard, that the arresting installation by the artist from 2000 on the tragic Rwandan genocide is reprised for this exhibition.
Over twenty years later, the haunting images of deformed facial masks peering at the viewer – some half buried in sand, should serve to remind us of the over the 3 million people dead from COVID-19 even while we debate vaccine sharing arrangements, optimum vaccine rollouts and the rise of new variants; and even as our deliberate and crazy environmental destruction relentlessly continues.
How can we forget that today, mass murder and sexual assaults are still being committed unabated and unchallenged in a conflict zone within Africa.
Setordji in this exhibition uses his formidable artistic talents to serve notice that all is not well, even as he bids us AKWAABA in Abidjan.
Hopefully, his message will not fall on deaf ears nor hard hearts.
**** All illustrations of art work are by kind courtesy of the artist.