Evans MBUGUA is reaching his maturity and his work has gained in confidence, as clearly demonstrated in the most recent evolution of his work!
BodyTalk, the series dedicated to dance, perfectly summarizes his concerns revolving around human beings, be they man or woman. In great, highly colorful compositions, MBUGUA depicts the encounters, exchanges, identities and ways of being in his interest in understanding human beings and their many facets.
Very carefully created backgrounds bring to mind the artist’s design activity, reproducing the regular motifs of the multicolored fabrics that we find all over Africa. Even footprints are cleverly fused into the plot while at the same time evoking the march and above all, in particular, the dance.
He detaches, through the use of pointillism, great moving characters that invade the canvas and give it a vitality that contrasts vigorously with the very neutral and uniform, though colorful background. The contrast of vivid colors that, in their antagonistic treatment (linear traces against pointillism, the reproduction of similar motifs against moving characters etc…), wonderfully animates the work. The techniques in these paintings link painting on plexiglass with digital printing on paper.
This painting is fresh, showing a dynamic Africa in motion, a positive Africa that immediately provokes the desire to love it! For the artist, dance is a universal language. It allows the transmission of expressions of joy, peace, excitement, tension, weight, space, rhythm, flexibility…
Hand painted on perspex + digital print on paper
However, MBUGUA sows several riddles into the work of which he alone possesses the exact answer. While we can venture explanations, they will not necessarily match his. But isn’t it the role of the “observer” to appropriate the work and make it say what they want it to say or understand?
Why do all of the models wear dark glasses? Through the use of this artifice we are left to consider what dark secret lies behind. Why does the artist try to remove the particular identities of the models? Is it to show that these portraits are not what immortalize youth, in all its forms, regardless of if they are two specifically identified models…
There are certain messages, beyond the aesthetic beauty that hook us immediately, that go further and that we have to learn to decipher, because obviously it is not just a combination of technical skills, that of the dancers and the artist that represents them.
The dancers are black, true, but they are contemporary and “globalized,” as evidenced by their hairstyles, the costumes and accessories that they wear, and there is nothing to attribute them to a nationality, an ethnic group, a country, all these symbols of borders, of isolation and conflict. They represent Africa as a whole and its transcendent unity. In contrast to the cliches in use, it is an energetic Africa, not that of the postcards of dancers in their straw rags and ornaments from another era, but a modern, carefree and complete Africa.
The artist, who had previously painted rather isolated figures that occupied the canvas, is now passing to pairs of dancers in which we can see signs of additional interpretation criteria on the complementarity and equality of men and women.
Sylvain Sankalé, 2019
Art critic. Dakar – Senegal (excerpt text from “Nairobi Here We Art!”)