Born in 1975 in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast to a local father and French mother, Gopal Dagnogo is the restless child of two cultures. After a study in the fine arts in Bordeaux in the early Nineties he returns to his African roots just before the turn of the Millenium. He settles in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, to learn the techniques of the local traditional bronze craft. Although he is invited to show his work in several galleries, he soon returns to France and doesn’t bother with any art for years, due to the lack of a studio, a place to conceive and work.
But! when invited to participate in a festival Les Afrikales in Normandy in 2007 it seems to work for him. He is offered a studio and a residency and off he goes. Maybe it is his mixed background – always an outsider in a way – that makes him notice, but he masters the brush and the colors to paint a contemporary pop-art party for both worlds. References of consumerism and metaphors of sacred rituals go side by side, complementing each other as naturally as a dreamscape. Some of his titles refer to chaos and dreams, others to violence and injustice. Also not afraid to delve into European art history he layers some of his paintings with the familiar lines of masterpieces, giving us a lot to consider.
Or maybe he is merely trying to work it out for himself, simply by painting.
Dagnogo is one of the surprises on show at What About Africa? 14 contemporary African artists at the Witteveen Visual Art Centre in Amsterdam, starting this weekend. (January 23rd – February 27th) Konijnenstraat 16A, Amsterdam.