The Knowledge (2015)
Boriz Nzebo’s practice draws from the landscape of his hometown, Douala, Cameroon, as well as the people that inhabit the city.
In The Knowledge, his interest in the fabric of urban life is reinforced through the skyscrapers that serve as the background of the painting, which are rendered in thick, colored lines that are a key formal element that repeats throughout his paintings. On top of the buildings is a large face whose hairstyle is depicted in painstaking detail, as well as a series of other signifiers of urban life like buses and cars. The large size of the face and the quote written onto a green backdrop (“Knowledge is a strengh”) replicates the experience of seeing outsized billboards in highways, while the use of saturated colors evoke the aesthetics of Pop art by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein. Layered on top of each other without a clear sense of three-dimensional spatiality, the collection of images works together as a means to communicate the intense sensations of urban life.