Spread the Roots

LE GRIOT / Oil of canvas / 114 x 145 cm – Prior to colonization, they were important personalities, king’s advisors , Masters of Ceremonies, and guardians of the memory of an entire people. In time of war they were the only captives, considered as a precious commodity that is concealed, like a secret book that contains history. Thus the Griot passed under the command of the victorious king, who also enriched himself with knowledge. The griots transmit their memory only generation to generation, and became griot father to son. Today, these guards still tell stories dating back several centuries. The stories are not written, but they stem from the memory keepers. They tell the stories to the rhythm of drums and other traditional instruments that give each of their sentence even more weight and expression. This painting evokes the transmission of knowledge. In this table, the Griot shares his knowledge at the court, at the request of the king. It is surrounded by musicians, a player of Inza (a horsehair monocord, with the sound box composed of a half calabash on which is stretched a goat skin, an arched bow with a rope, also with horsehair of horse). This instrument has the particularity to imitate the hum of human voice, which is why it remains the preference of griots and West African storytellers. The king is shown here with his two wives, his personal guard and his second to his right, all transfixed by the story of the Griot. Through this painting I describe the power of the intellectual and spiritual faculties opposite of material and military forces.

LA REINE POKOU / Oil on canvas / 97 x 127 cm – Alba Pokou was a courageous queen who ruled a current tribe of Ghana, the Akan people. While harmony and peace reigned over his people, jealousy grew in the very heart of his family. Some of them plotted to dismiss her from her throne by creating an alliance with a neighboring king, who urged the queen to flee, and those who supported her fled with her. But the warriors of the enemy king followed them, with orders to kill them all. Legend says, they reached the bank of a river they could not cross. The people were distraught, seeing the troops of soldiers approaching far away. The mage of the village asked the spirits of the river to calm his waters so that they could cross, the latter answered that they had to yield their most precious possession. It was then that the people hastily convened gold and jewels which he threw into the river to meet the request of the spirits of the river, but the water violently rejected the precious stones. The wizard returned to the river and said, « But we gave all our gold! Why are your waters still so agitated? « » This has nothing valuable « replied the spirit, » the child prince, the heir to the throne, we may be given, and you will be safe. » The mage transmitted the request of the spirits to the queen, a mournful silence followed the words of the mage, despite his pain Queen complied, becoming aware of the issue, she gave her child to the river. The waters subsided, and the people immediately crossed from one bank to the other. Queen crossed the latter, on the other side she found her kneeling people in gratitude. The queen happy for his people, however, she was crying his son … she uttered this cry of pain « Ba ouli! » Which means « the child is dead! » Pierced by this cry, the crowd felt this cry so deeply, that she decided to rebrand the tribe. A new nation was born, the « Baoule », gave birth to a new nation Ivory Coast.

VODUN / Oil on canvas / 76 x 117 cm – Voodoo is a traditional religion developed by the Fon of Benin. Vodun is an original Yoruba name, which means « god » in Fon is the name of being between man and God. Among the many legends about the origins of the Yoruba people, one of them says that the Yoruba people come from a line of seven princes son of God, since then the spirit of the descending peoples claim to have access to God by Through the VODUN. The Vodun ceremony or the preparation of initiates to religion takes place in the forest. During the ceremony, dances and songs are held so that the creator down on the peoples. Each tribe has its own spiritual ancestor was one of the seven princes, they all have different clothes, in praise of the ancestor in question. During the ritual, have preserved the bare shoulders that have to receive the Vodun (symbolic gesture to say that the spirit descend from heaven). There is no age for initiation, those who have been there longer, teach the tradition to new members. When European settlers were exposed to the practice for the first time, they were impressed by the demonstrative scenes of men and women praying, shouting, crying and rolling to the ground after dropping as affected by a weapon fire. The European settlers designated this practice as black magic. The fear of this ritual by this negative image was ingrained in the mentality and even in Africa where it is associated with witchcraft. Despite the centuries and the distance, this religion has evolved and has been adapted in certain parts of the world and former colonies and all the Caribbean in general without forgetting Louisiana in the United States of America. 

LES MASSAÏS / Oil on canvas / 117 x 76 cm – Population of farmers and semi-nomadic warriors of East Africa, they are distributed along the Rift Valley, mainly in the central and south-western Kenya and northern Tanzania. Their flocks represent their wealth. Much of the Masai territory was colonized by the British and the Germans at the end of the 19th century, but diseases such as rinderpest and smallpox also contributed greatly to their submission to the invader. Lands have been transformed into natural reserves and national parks where a people still present plays its own part. Good hunters, they were above all great warriors, but current conditions and modernity, Current conditions and modernity no longer allow them to practice. Their weapons, spears, clubs and shields, were banned by the authorities and replaced by shepherds canes. 

LES AMANTS / Oil on canvas / 40 x 80 cm

L’ELITE / Oil on canvas / 117 x 76 cm – Historically, the « Intores » were considered the royal elite, they were the most ferocious warriors of the Tutsi Kingdom in Rwanda.