The new space of the Lis10 Gallery in Paris will open on Thursday, May 4, at 18:00, at 18 rue De Crussol, 11th arrondissement, Paris. For the occasion, the gallery will host the exhibition “Who’s that woman ? / Qui est cette femme?” of the Ivorian artist-activist Laetitia Ky.
In recent years the research on contemporary African art has been an area of main interest for the Italian gallery based in Arezzo, a special focus now emphasized by choosing to open an exhibition and cultural space in Paris, by definition the city of art but also a crossroads of the expressive languages of the African continent and the diaspora.
2023 has been a year of wonders for Laetitia Ky: she represented her country, the Côte d’Ivoire at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022; exhibited at the Fondazione Made in Cloister in Naples; was a guest of the Tate Modern in London on 31 March for a seminar within the program “Art Talk” and participated as a female protagonist in the film by Giacomo Abbruzzese “Disco Boy”, awarded with the Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival for the best artistic contribution. In the exhibition “Who’s that woman” Laetitia presents a series of photographic and pictorial works- some of which have been made especially for the occasion – which represent a further phase of her research, in which aesthetics is not separable from ethics, artistic expression from activism in defense of women’s rights.
The photographic works propose a personal expressive formula, which harmoniously combines the body as a living sculpture, modeled to express ideas, and photography as a documentary and expressive tool. Hers is a relentless search, in which hair – the ultimate symbol of her identity and black beauty – is the fulcrum and engine, a search originated with the recovery of archival photos of hairstyles of African women in general and Ivorian in particular, made using mud.
Hairstyles as a real non-verbal language, used to define an identity in terms of ethnicity, culture, social status, political orientation and wealth. In her paintings Laetitia Ky adopts a language aimed to subtraction, freeing the composition from decorative criteria, from spatial contextualizations of the image and from what André Breton called “the stain of art education” thus to obtain a direct language, universally understandable, that highlights symbols, archetypes and stereotypes. In the photos and paintings the Ivorian artist puts into play – as in the best tradition of performance art – a body that does not belong to her, subtracted from the apparent narcissism to become a universal body, as a relic of a physicality in search of a defined identity (“Who’s that woman?/Qui est cette femme?”).
The artist’s work is inseparable from its militant dimension, for this reason her photos and her paintings are complementary and combine realism and symbolism, as demonstrated by the display of the exhibition. Works that witness of an ethical before than aesthetic attitude, bodies that listen to the jolts of our time, attributing to art a dysvelative function, which interrogates the ballistics of history and chronicle. Photographs and paintings are intended not only to document and illustrate what is happening, but they further indicate what is lacking in the reality and help to understand the possible and the potential.
Laetitia Ky’s works will also be exhibited at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in the group exhibition “Des cheveux et de poils” (5 April – 17 September); at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Caen, “Sous le regard de Méduse” (13 May – 17 September”); at the LouiSimone Guirandou in Abidjan. “A breath of art” 2023 edition (24 June – 24 September) with a site-specific project and a solo exhibition.