"Man Dan" is the incarnation of Obou, as an author sharing the story of this native Ivorian, who, while introducing Berlin to the people of Abidjan, sheds new light on their own reality.
LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery is pleased to present “Man Dan”, the First solo show of Obou Gbais, from September 22 to November 12, 2022.
“Man Dan” appears both as a deepening culmination of Obou’s work, and the testing ground of a thriving reflexion on new modes of representation.
The term “Man” refers both to a ″man″ in German and to the name of the town where Obou comes from. Man brings together the duality of the artist: a visual artist living in Germany and a spokesperson for his Dan culture. ″Man Dan” embodies the multi-faceted Obou: returning to the roots, a critical reflection on Ivorian and European societies, and a fresh look at the future of an artistic creation.
Between Ivory Coast and Germany, Obou Gbais invites us to discover two worlds and creates through his art, a bridge between both countries. Struck by the rectilinear and imposing architecture of Friedenau (Berlin), so far from the curves and animation of Locodjro district (Abidjan), Obou emphasizes the structural differences which reveal different history and mentalities. In the middle of his landscapes, the Dan mask always appears as a tribute to his native land and to ancestral traditions. Thus reintegrating the mask into the contemporary sphere, Obou gives it a meaning at the heart of Ivorian society and a positive and festive aura.
The dual identity of "Man Dan" also leads to a social and cultural reflection. When confronted with European museums, Obou discovers a fertile ground of inspiration reflecting his cultural mix, which can be observed in his interpretations of masterpieces of great painters, including Klimt and Delacroix. Discovering African masks in European museums also brings new perspectives to Obou's approach. The artist thus considers the essential role of these masks in communitarian development and the importance of their appropriation by African societies.
Lastly, as he felt concerned with the ecological awareness of German people, Obou wants to be the spokesperson of this movement in Ivory Coast. With his recycled plastic masks, the artist modernizes an ancestral practice using recycled materials and integrating the contemporary environmental issues.
"Man Dan" acts as a discreet narrator, navigating through time and continents : he is an actor witnessing two realities that influence and confront each other at the same time. "Man Dan" is the incarnation of Obou, as an author sharing the story of this native Ivorian, who, while introducing Berlin to the people of Abidjan, sheds new light on their own reality.