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Synergy of Traditional and Contemporary
Yannis Davy Guibinga is a Gabonese photographer whose heritage is deeply reflected in his artworks, which focus on African people living in and outside of Africa. From the Queen warrior Nzinga to the African diaspora, his subjects are a vivid representation of the spiritual connection with the continent.
While people are the focal point of his work, for Guibinga, a portrait isn’t just about the person in the photo. He’s a storyteller and creates stories that speak about the colorful and vibrant aesthetics of the African culture and the mix between traditional and modern elements.
“I like mixing elements from traditional African cultures like body painting techniques and headwraps with modern and futuristic elements to create a visual universe akin to Africanfuturism.”
As a self-taught photographer, driven by passion and creativity, Guibinga finds inspiration in everything that surrounds him. A portrait can start from a story, a person, or a symbol. Guibinga explores cultural references, body painting techniques, and futuristic elements. Sometimes he uses saturated colors, emerging from dark backgrounds, and creating strong visual contrast; other times, he focuses on lines and shapes and uses only shades of black to create his stories. Either way, his portraits are meaningful and profound.
“I typically start with an idea of a story I want to tell or a particular topic I want to explore, sometimes the inspiration is sparked from the subjects themselves and other times from specific cultural symbols or references.”
His compositions are complex and artful, continuously revealing new elements that capture the eye and the mind of the viewer. The mix of black and color is the main ingredient of Guibinga’s portraits. Bright yellows, silky reds, and powerful blues tell the story of the artistic expression of African tribes transcribed in contemporary artworks. Each brush stroke and texture has a meaning as they would have in traditional African body painting and art. Guibinga pays homage to the subtle shapes of the human figure and silhouette.
Although the pandemic kept the artists away from their models and regular photoshoots, Yannis Davy Guibinga is eager to get back to work and create impressive portraits again. Photography is his way to express creativity, and he still has a lot to say through his visual stories.
Article written by Monica Radulescu