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Thinkspace Projects presents Boris Anje’s (aka Anjel) latest body of work and U.S. solo debut, ‘Black is the Color of Gold.’ Featuring an entirely new collection of his vivid neo-pop portraits of contemporary African dandies, this exhibition is wildly engaging.
By placing his subjects against contrasting heavily logoed backgrounds, Anje reveals their sartorial elegance and pride, while drawing attention to the pervasive influence of consumer culture. His work toes the line between societal issues including race, identity, and consumerism. Paying special attention to depicting compelling portraiture from different generations, Anje’s work creates an unspoken dialogue between the subject and viewer.
In anticipation of ‘Black is the Color of Gold’ our interview with Boris Anje explores his creative process and talks about the artistic voices who helped inspire his own development.
For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you come to be introduced to Thinkspace?
I was born in Bamenda, a city in the North West region of Cameroon. I started art at a very tender age, getting my first art classes from my cousin NJOMKE Samuel. After a professional master’s degree in drawing and painting in 2018, from the institute of fine arts in Foumban I decided to engage full-time in my artistic practice. I live and work in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon.
I got introduced to Thinkspace through the bias of social media, Instagram.
What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
The inspiration behind this body of work exhales from my encounter with people. Discussions I had with fellow artists during studio visits, all centered around similar topics I’m working on now like, identity policies, race, the consumerist society and self-esteem.
What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?
The most challenging piece in this series was ‘Black is the Colour of Gold’, it was challenging because it appears to be the most finite representation of the different topics I have developed so far. It has helped me grow because I later realized how essential and subtle a creative process could be.
Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
My everyday ritual is listening to good music, it feels good to paint and be accompanied with some lyrical sonic poetry. Music that feeds the soul like Jacob Banks, Marvin Gaye, John Legend…..and a prayer of belief.
What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?
It’s always a pleasure getting to see my creations. I start work at 9 am to close by 6 pm, all depending on the feeling and energy of the day. I get to structure this so because my workshop is at home and without discipline and consistency nothing big could be accomplished. It starts with a prayer of commitment accompanied with some sweet music, to nourish and feed my soul. Throughout the day is painting, and a break time by 1 pm.
What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?
My favorite moment in the creative process is the making of — that is the process that involves colour mixture, setting values, getting to enjoy the gaze and entering the soul of a subject you haven’t met before.
My least favorite part is the very beginning, the thinking process. Mind mapping always get me tired.
Who has been some of your creative influences? Artistic voices that inspired you to develop your style and technique?
Creatives like Kehinde Wiley, Kerry J Marshall, Tim Okamura, and Amy Sherald have been of great influence to my creative process. The artist statement they attach to their portraiture had me going. Dario Calmese, Wole Soyinka, Michael Feugain and many others are critical thinkers that help me
If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?
Managing the human condition as a topic and singing as a skill.
What does the perfect day in the Douala look like? Where would we go and what would we eat?
Beautiful days in Douala are characterized by sunny and hot climate, a visit to the coastal seashores of Youpwe where you are served fresh fish, a plate of eru, or ndole and miyondor a lot of varieties to savour.
Do you have a piece of clothing that has acted like armor in your own life? An outfit that changes your stride?
I have this white shirt, whenever I have it on I feel like I can fly, with a pair of denim jeans it feels good to, casual and simple. Aside from this combination, there is nothing else.
If you could throw a dinner party for five people dead or alive, who would be on the guest list? What would be on the menu? What would be the ice breaker question?
My wife, my mum, my kid brother, my best friend and my grandmother (Dead), we will have as dinner a hot pot of fufu and eru accompanied with freshly tapped palme wine.
‘Black is the Color of Gold’ will be on view from November 13, 2021 – December 4, 2021
Opening Reception with the Artist(s): Saturday, November 13, 2021 6:00-9:00pm