Roméo Mivekannin, (Detail) Groupe d'habitants des iles andanam (1869), 264x261cm, 2019.
Les âmes du peuple noir (The Souls of Black Folk) is the first solo exhibition of Beninese artist Roméo Mivekannin on the African continent. Galerie Cécile Fakhoury shows his works from 18 September – 28 November 2020.
For his first solo exhibition in Africa, Roméo Mivekannin deploys an eloquent plastic citation process. From one work to another, the compositions of the canvases never cease to dialogue with a complex visual history made up of direct references to classical painting and to the images of Épinal which defined the representation of blacks in 19th century Europe. .
Confronted with the inability to identify himself with these images and to weave a connection with these historical narratives, Roméo Mivekannin inserts himself into these regimes of representation, substituting his own portrait for those of the original black characters. The repeated appearance of the artist’s face, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes hidden in crowds of extras, is disturbing. Like an uncompromising assertion, repetition embodies his desire to reappropriate a regime of visibility from which he had until then been excluded.