This past week, at the NY Armory Show, I continued my love affair with the work of African artist, Pascale Marthine Tayou, exhibited by the Galleria Continua, located in San Gimignano, Italy.
Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1967, Tayou began his career in the 90's, when after abandoning his studies in law, he changed his birth name, Jean Apollinaire Tayou, taking a double name in the female form: Pascal(e) Marthin(e) and went abroad to begin his art career. His first exhibition was in 1994 in Cameroon, it was followed quickly by international recognition. Tayou refers to himself as "a lawyer not an artist" saying "I never intended to be an artist, but I'm curious." Currently living with his wife and children in Ghent, with trips to Africa, he says of leaving Africa "I never left my country, I am a traveler now." The work, like his name, is fluid, easily transitioning between sculpture, drawing, video, and installation ..... purposely mobile .... reflecting his double-life, traversing two diverse worlds. In addition to the theme of movement between cultures, Tayou's work also explores the issues of the "global village."
Thought sold individually, the installation at the Armory features a "family" of four crystal figurative objects; individuals or twins ....... each different, but having a relationships to each other ..... a "community." The "birth" of the pieces began with Pascale drawing the "figures," followed by him supervising master glass artisans in San Gimignano, who blew the forms, and then he "dressed" them. They have strong connections to Tayou's "double-life;" the wrappings inspired by the earthy African elements of his childhood, and the figures made of glass, a European material, not part of the African culture. The combination of materials, shapes, colors, and textures; the use of worn bits of textiles, yarn, string, beads, wood, etc- are in direct opposition to the new, icey cold, flat, bright, clear, almost soulless crystal "bodies." But, when all the parts join together, the pieces come to life, ........ they are joyful, elegant, and humorous creatures. The last pieces of the "puzzle" are the pedestals, tree stumps that reference Tayou's African roots, where nature is a part of life. According to him, "Les Siamois, Fraternal Twins A&B, Twins & Co, is a plastic reflection on the magic that binds human beings to nature."
I saw Tayou's work for the first two years ago at the Armory and thought it was fantastic. These new pieces are equally stunning and for this "accessorator," his work continues to be among the most innovative and exciting at the show!!!!!!!!!