When Art Imitates Life: A moment with Marcel Tchopwe

Marcel Tchopwe finds inspiration in his childhood. Son of soldier, educated with rigor, he had to rebel against his father to do art, an activity he considered reserved for lazy people. He is also inspired by the children he observes in his entourage, children educated with an iron fist, who are not given any respite, violent children who lack respect towards their elders

For 34-year-old Cameroonian artist Marcel Tchopwe, this expression from Oscar Wild’s 1889 essay is a mantra that resonates throughout his body of work. In this viewing room, we are brought up, close and personal into Tchopwe’s life while finding resonance through his art.

 

In his latest body of work, the life we see reflected on the canvas is a sad reality of a disappointed generation. The disappointment is inherited from years of systematic injustice, uncompassionate leaders and education systems that are making minimal efforts towards truly decolonising their institutions. Using colour as his closest companion in bringing these works of art to life, Tchopwe colours in the emotion of each qualified graduate with the intention to accurately evoke the spirit of each subject.

 

Yet what makes this body of work even more important, is the way it compliments his growing collection of portraits. Taking a truly reflective stance into what 2020 has been for many young African graduates, who are overqualified for their current employment status, each artwork has been appropriately titled to speak to the socio-economic position of each subject. Pairing each subject with a uniquely identifiable piece of iconography, Tchopwe has mastered the technique of bringing emotion onto a canvas and re-representing an authentic resonance out of life’s most personal encounters.