© Peres Projects / Photography: Matthias Kolb – Installation view

Hailing from Douala, artist Ajarb Bernard Ategwa (1988) work explores the fast-changing urban landscape of the Cameroonian capital. The large format of Ategwa’s paintings mimic the scale of cityscapes and public spaces, while his exuberant colour palette and graphic style reflect the visual codes of advertising familiar to the city’s inhabitants. Ategwa’s painting style is based on complex line drawings on canvas, all of which are executed free-hand, and imply a momentum that’s reflective of his rapidly transforming hometown. The artist has returned to Peres Projects, one of Berlin‘s leading art galleries, for a second exhibition which presents a new body of work. Entitled Studio Ekwe’s, it references the photo studio beside the house that the artist grew up in, the black & white studio portraiture popular in post-independence Africa and today’s rampant selfie culture. Interestingly, Ategwa’s focus isn’t just a documentation of daily life, albeit a celebratory one, but also a post-colonial shift away from the ethnographic view of Africa towards a reclamation of the camera as a tool for the affirmation of the self. The medium of portraiture has been overtaken by new technologies and modes of distribution which Ategwa engages and also reflects on. The canvases, all created with acrylic paint, show Ategwa’s background in billboard painting. The action of the painting occurs across one field and depth is flattened – prioritising the immediate; the subject. On this plane, the painter’s lines are given weight, creating shapes, frames and patterns that are reminiscent both of the colorfoul textiles that the west so often conflates with Africa, as well as the traditional beading and weaving of the Bamileke people (on through Nov 23).

Peres Projects
Karl Marx Allee 82
10243 Berlin
Telephone: +49 30 275950770
Mon-Fri 11-6

© Peres Projects / Photography: Matthias Kolb / Ajarb Bernard Ategwa – Fashion Followers (2020), installation view and Studio Ekwe’s (2020)