Pace Gallery announces Maurice Mboa: Resilience, a solo exhibition of new works by the Geneva-based, Cameroonian artist.
This exhibition brings together recently completed works in the artist’s singular style, including large-scale diptychs, marking the first time Mboa has worked in this format. At the core of Mboa’s artistic practice is an enquiry into the spiritual world. His signature face-less portraits, often set in wild lush surroundings, are intentionally ambiguous as Mboa seeks to convey their inner spirit.
Despite the absence of features, each figure is imbued with a strong presence as they look out at the viewer at times questioning or mirroring those who stand before them. Mboa calls his portraits Âme-preinte or soul prints – a play on Empreinte, the French word for imprint. Having endured multiple near-death experiences in his life, Mboa has a strong sense of the delicate balance between the finite, physical body and eternal, intangible soul. Indeed, during his adolescence in Cameroon Mboa informally trained under his grandmother who was a traditional healer, learning to engage with the spirit of plants and nature as the centre of universal spirituality. He explains, “I have always been described as a contemporary philosopher interrogating the lines and symbols that connect nature and as an anthropologist of bodies and souls. ”
Mboa has developed his distinctive artistic style and technique over many years, importing sheets of steel from Africa which he then carves into using a bespoke glass tool before applying vivid paint to bring his works to life. Mboa considers steel to be synonymous with the future. It is a material that evokes strength and speaks to the future of mankind. He selects dark sheets of steel, finding beauty in the contrasting lightness brought out by every stroke of his glass engraving tool. The intricate, biomorphic patterns that sprawl across Mboa’s panels creates a rich vibrancy, as if the plant life that surrounds his figure is alive and moving. In Untitled (2022), included above, each leaf is a circuit of lines that represents the organic movement of each organ of the body. With their otherworldly, compact compositions, Mboa’s paintings speak to the interconnectedness of living organisms. For these new works presented in Geneva, Mboa has selected a dazzling colour palette of greens, blues, yellows, and reds, marking his most brightly coloured series to date.