The LouiSimone Guirandou gallery in Abidjan hosted the collective exhibition Regards Contemporains featuring Laetitia Ky, Wanger Ayu, and Marius Dansou, three West African artists. They renewed the artistic representation of African women by using ordinary materials such as iron, fabrics, and hair.
It is an assemblage of sculptures, paintings, and photos. Despite their differences, they all question the representation of black women in their diversity, but they all have one thing in common, hair is the focus.
Beninese sculptor Marius Dansou creates whimsical hairstyles from concrete iron, while Nigerian painter Wanger Ayu depicts black women, sketched bodies, faces, and hair. “It’s about elevating yourself, owning yourself, your story, and even your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Whenever we talk about African hair, we talk about it in terms of liberation, freedom, power, expression… We often fail to talk about hair from the angle of vulnerability,” she explains.
The hair, strength, and vulnerability of the African woman
A vulnerability that Laetitia Ky also seized on. The versatile Ivorian artist, very followed on Instagram, stages herself in a photo series by sculpting her hair with whom she maintains a complex relationship. 2012. I was 17, and it was the first time I encountered this texture. It was hard to learn to like it, it was hard to get used to it. I know how vulnerable I felt in those moments. When it comes to our hair, as black women, there’s a lot of vulnerability, but there’s also a lot of strength, because today, that’s my tool to claim a lot of things,” she explains.
The exhibition was already full at the time of the opening. It will continue at the Guirandou Gallery until June 24th.