JEAN DAVID NKOT
Inaugurating its very first gallery space, Paris-based AFIKARIS Gallery presents rising Cameroonian artist Jean David Nkot’s first extensive solo exhibition in France. On view from May 29—July 7, 2021, Human@Condition portrays the individuals behind Africa’s pervasive mining industry, pursuing the artist’s ongoing exploration of the human condition and notions of resilience.
Marking its move from an online platform and showroom to its very first physical gallery space in Paris, AFIKARIS Gallery, dedicated to promoting emerging and established artists from Africa and its diaspora, presents Human@Condition, the first major solo exhibition in France of rising Cameroonian artist Jean David Nkot (b. 1989, Douala, Cameroon). Mirroring the artist’s longstanding ties with the gallery since its creation in 2018, the exhibition is also the gallery’s very first solo show, featuring a newly edited monograph of Nkot’s work, following on a continuous program of curated group exhibitions and off-site projects presented in its previous Paris showroom, online and at international art fairs.
On view from May 29—July 7, 2021, the all-new series – a continuation of Nkot’s signature hyperrealist portraits over mapped backgrounds – will take over AFIKARIS’s vast 130-square-meter space in the heart of Paris’s Marais district, with works ranging from large-scale 2 x 3-meter canvases to smaller, intimate formats. Addressing Africa’s pervasive mining industry, Nkot superimposes his portraits onto a complex layering of maps, economic data and geopolitical norms, thereby focusing on the individuals at its roots. Freeing them from the weight of a mapped human condition often defined by hardship, he instead brings to bear an affirmed sense of resilience, and of hope.
Previously focused on the topic of migration, Nkot expands on his exploration of the human condition, examining its ties to the physical landscape through the lens of mining in Africa. Shedding light on ubiquitous systemic issues – African states’ subversive dependence and control over their wealth, and the consequences on their populations – the artist brings a localized focus onto them. He traces how they materialize in the exploitation of raw materials: in particular, through the extraction of minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Continuously searching for the human dimension, he mirrors the exploitation of the soil to that of the individuals involved, bringing to the forefront their shared resilience in the face of adversity. All-the-while deploring the destruction of the natural environment, he gives way to the “workers in the shadows,” contrasting them with those who benefit from a pernicious industry, and ultimately honoring their strength and sense of ownership over their existence.
“I looked to the young people in my neighborhood as models for both my art and broader existence. As a witness each day of their vitality and joy, I wanted to push away common depictions of sorrow and suffering, instead shedding light on their strength and sense of hope, showing smiles and firm postures to expose a resilient body, undeterred by difficulty.” – Jean David Nkot