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LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery is pleased to announce ‘Égrégore’, the first solo exhibition of Ange Dakouo in the Ivory Coast, scheduled from November 30, 2023 to January 6, 2024.

Ange Dakouo, Yélen #6, 2023. Mixed media: cardboard, newspaper cotton thread and acrylic, 260 x 260cm. Courtesy of the artist and LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery.

Through a rich artistic journey encompassing painting, weaving, collage, and sculpture, ‘Égrégore’ extends an invitation to immerse in the optimistic and poetic philosophy of Ange Dakouo. Reflecting his deep connection to Malian cultures, he makes the Donzo hunters’ brotherhood the cornerstone of his artistic approach and, more broadly, his vision of a harmonious world.

The Donzo hunters, an ancient society of initiates with ancestral origins, once the guardians of Sahelian kingdoms, bear a dual responsibility of protection, both medical and warrior. Through his paintings, Ange Dakouo pays homage to their way of life and animistic beliefs. Like a storyteller, he depicts their rituals, music, accessories, and incantations. Yet, these human and animal figures, parading like shadows, enhance the mystery.

The Donzo brotherhood’s power is reinforced by the local people’s trust in their mystical aura and magical knowledge. It still relies on a set of codified rituals today, including the creation of amulets, or “grigris,” that they adorn their attire with. Fascinated by the protective power of the “grigri,” Ange Dakouo focuses on their deeply individual and almost intimate character. Each “grigri” is unique, imbued with sacred significance, and reflects the personality of the one wearing it. Departing from traditional leather amulets, Ange Dakouo meticulously crafts delicate paper “grigris.” Grid-patterned and woven together with cotton thread, these “woven grigris” become a part of a whole, much like individuals forming a society.

The interdependence of the “grigris,” where one’s shape influences the position of the other, embodies the concept of ‘Égrégore,’ a collective force directed towards a common goal. Shaped by the collective unconscious, an imaginary shared by members of the same social group according to K.G. Jung, ‘Égrégore’ reflects Ange Dakouo’s deep belief in a better future where social cohesion prevails. The harmony of his tapestries, accentuated by the arrangement of “grigris” in relation to one another, appears as a projection of an ideal society where each individual harmonises their uniqueness with the community. His “woven grigris” evoke the power of the collective, celebrating the strength of communal unity.

At first glance, Ange Dakouo’s installations appear to be composed of textiles, a reminiscence of the traditional Donzo attire and of the richness of Malian artisanal techniques. They exude a commanding presence and apparent solidity. However, as the viewer approaches and circles the canvas, he may discover the delicacy of the paper work as well as the inherent fragility of the piece. The thread and paper remind us of the precarious balance of society and the threat of a destructive ‘Égrégore.’

In homage to his printer father, Ange Dakouo repurposes newspaper pages and conveys his message in a manner akin to the press. Setting himself apart from the oral traditions of Donzo hunters, he aims to emphasise the power of word transmission. 

The words, hidden under cotton threads and deviating from the original meaning of the newspaper’s articles, invite the viewer to approach and decipher them. This whisper that traverses the artwork murmurs in the ear of the one who gently touches the canvas.

The colour palette itself contributes to the narrative of this journey towards an ideal society. Black, red, and white respectively symbolise imbalance, danger, and harmony. This dominant triad is sometimes challenged by yellow, symbolising hope, and blue, symbolising peace. Each tapestry represents the stages of a society on the path to improvement, with each obstacle represented by a fragmentation of colour.

Ange Dakouo also explores the polysemy of the circle, both a geometric shape and a gathering of individuals. As a perfect embodiment of visual harmony, the circle also denotes the space in which beings come together around shared values. More intimate and restricted, the circle represents a community within society, striving for absolute harmony. In this quest for an ideal society, the individual, far from being subsumed by the group, finds the fertile ground for their fulfilment. “Elevation”, a monumental sculpture, portrays an individual who, encompassing his experiences and connections, is uplifted by his belonging to the group and transcends his condition.

Ange Dakouo is not merely an observer of the Donzo history and practices. Gradually departing from figurative representation, he appropriates their codes to celebrate his ideal of society. Abstraction, by avoiding the pitfalls of narration, becomes a means to make this harmony felt rather than depicted. The ‘Égrégore’ exhibition, resolutely optimistic and committed, is an ode to solidarity.

The exhibition will be on view from the 30th of November, 2023, until the 6th of January,  2024. For more information, please visit LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery.

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