Gopal Dagnogo . Mythologies Contemporaines

29 Juin . 29 Juillet 2017

Galerie Susse Frères . 56 – 62 Galerie de Montpensier . Palais Royal . Paris 75001

Gopal Dagnogo: A Painter of Everything

Gopal Dagnogo’s mixed media paintings bear markers of the real, the surreal, the sublime and the evoked. He creates complex vistas riddled with unhomely forms in various states of resolve. In several instances, schematic outlines and residual traces cast ghostly parlors over the picture plane. The image surface is near riotous. Colors clash, drip, and reconcile; forms oppose, contest for space, and warm up to each other. These forms; abstract, semi-abstract, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, elemental and geometric forms, engage our imaginations as the artist tests the limits of the palpable and rational.  We find leitmotifs of animals, domesticated fowls, human body parts, food seasonings, Victorian chairs, and converse shoes interspersed with everyday objects with active social lives and forms borrowed from traditional African sculptures. In one fell swoop, the artist directs our attention to the intractable state of things, of human reality — past, present, and even the future. Ensconced in myriad of tropes, we are presented with compelling multifaceted narratives of quotidian life, history, and politics with a capital P. In the artist’s overwhelming gesture to the surreal, we see possible sources of inspiration or influences.

The transcendental whiff of Salvador Dali, the animism of Christian Lattier, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Watts Ouattara to the “soupkandjé” spectacle of Soly Cissé. Dagnogo is yet his own man. Possessed of a unique vision, Dagnogo breathes life into the accumulated forms that overlay each other on the image surface. It is always as if there is a real tinge of aroma when you look intently at the chickens and food seasonings in the paintings.

In certain ways, he pays homage to the modernism of traditional life captured in Iba N’Diaye’s Tabaski series. Dagnogo recurring converse shoes, fraught with meaning, offers telling stories of sojourns, of displacements, of movements and draws attention to the plight of refugees and immigrants escaping harsh social conditions and political crisis in Africa and the Middle East. He is no stranger to such realism. The Victorian seats that also recur in his paintings offer affective insights on the political game of thrones. Born in Cote d’Ivoire, Dagnogo’s relocation to Paris was as a result of the civil war that engulfed his home country for most part of the late-1990s and 2000s. To an extent, the recurring converse shoes is the artist’s self-portrait while the Victorian seats capture emblematic life experiences. Both mark his consciousness as well as ours. They capture his agony and musings as well as ours. A master of metaphors, his paintings show him as a conscientious observer who details the minute aspects of reality. In sum, it is this ability to seek, tease out, and grapple with the conceptual reaches and subtexts of the everyday, of human experiences and challenges, which marks him as visual philosopher.

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
Artist, Art Historian and Curator