In 1998, Sadikou Oukpedjo joined Paul Ahyi’s studio where he essentially worked on wood carvingand assembly. In addition to woodworking, he started painting and diversifying his experiments:cement paper, pastel highlight, chalk, colors, canvases. In 2013, after a stay in Bamako, hemoved to Abidjan where he devoted himself entirely to painting.Upon returning from Dak’Art 2014, he began a series of drawings on newsprint that consist ofcharacters that are all at once human and animal which were first presented at 1:54 ContemporaryAfrican Art Fair London in 2014.In 2015, his work was exhibited for the first time in Lagos, Nigeria, in the exhibition ‘‘Platform’’,presented by Art Twenty One (ART 21) and he participated in a Fondation Blachère art residencyprogram in La Somone, Senegal. In 2016, he presented his first solo exhibition ‘‘Anima’’, at GalerieCécile Fakhoury - Abidjan. His work was also shown at the Fringe of the 12th Dakar Biennale in theexhibition ‘‘Une collection particulière’’. At the end of the year, he starts a long term residencyat La Vallée in Brussels, Belgium.
"Mysterious half-man, half-animal beings appear on the canvas in surreal, seemingly mythological scenes…Through visually raw and dynamic imagery, the Ivory Coast-based artist explores existence following the belief that man was first created as a hybrid being.
Oukpedjo believes that human beings were originally fused with animal forms, while at the same time remaining conscious of their humanity. Thus, the human possesses a kind of dual consciousness as well as a complex physicality that goes beyond our conventional understanding of the human form. It is man’s separation from the animal being that has and continues to preoccupy the artist, who claims that this perceived ‘liberation’ is, in fact, the cause of violence and conflict in the human world. Through his artistic practice, Oukpedjo seeks to better understand the consequences of this severing, a process that he calls self-induced and describes as a perverse kind of cannibalism: ‘Like the female animal that eats its placenta, man feeds on his first form in the world by erasing traces of his animality.’
Simultaneously strange and familiar, Oukpedjo’s figures appear to reference Greek mythologies…Beyond spiritual and cultural narratives, Oukpedjo’s hybrid beings encompass the struggles and mutations that lead to the formation of a national and personal identity… The artist’s attempt to create a new mythology, which promotes unity and integrity rather than continual conflict."
- Millie Walton/Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery