Writing Art History Since 2002

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For her first solo exhibition at the Cécile Fakhoury Gallery in Abidjan, Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien tells stories, her own and that of the living, through polymorphous works, sometimes cartographies or totems, contemporary paths of a mystical and mythological ancestrality.

Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien, Garden Ladies (Beige) #7, 2023. Tenjin paper, ink, raffia, 37 x 31cm. Courtesy of the artist and Cécile Fakhoury Gallery.

In the series of unpublished works presented in Abidjan, Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien is rooted in traditional artisanal weaving techniques, based on natural fibers such as silk and cotton kita cloth. Dyed and embroidered, her works carry a knowledge and a strength symbolised by the elements that compose them: shells, scales, drawings on paper.

Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien no longer presents herself solely as a storyteller of poems, an explorer of materials and signs, but as a true healer, through plants and stones, her works representing her power to take care of others, her loved ones, who are present in her woven and mural sculptures in a very figurative way. This approach to care has been inherited from her Ivorian, Guadeloupean and Amerindian ancestry, where the relationship to care also passes through the living and the organic.

In the midst of familiar symbols in the work of Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien, from Akan mythology, such as the Siamese crocodile symbol of equality between beings, the artist introduces new forms, and dives more deeply into an evocative imagery of a female body in symbiosis with nature and cosmic balance. The artist’s works refer to African mythologies such as that of Mami Watta (or Mother of Water in Guadeloupe), through elements of the marine worlds, like organic treasures charged with delivering their powers and mysteries.

The exhibition will be on view from the 13th of April until the 10th of June, 2023. For more information, please visit Cécile Fakhoury Gallery.

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