6 June 2018

Burkina Faso: Pierre-Christophe Gam - Paying Homage to Thomas Sankara Through Art

Thomas Sankara might be dead but his spirit is alive, a source of inspiration to many Africans, including artists like Pierre-Christophe Gam, a Cameroonian-Chadian artist. Gam titled his work The Upright Man "a mixed media installation offering an apocryphal look at the life and legacy of Thomas Sankara".

The spirit of Thomas Sankara is alive and vivid. The figure and personality of the former Burkina Faso leader has continued to be a source of inspiration not only to the spirit of the revolution in his country, but also to artists around the continent such as Pierre-Christophe Gam.

Nigerian playwright Jude Idada earlier in the year wrote a play titled Thomas Sankara that was performed in Lagos. At the Dakar Art currently taking place in Senegal, another artist Pierre-Christophe Gam has kept the memory of Captain Sankara burning through his art pieces.

Gam, trained in Paris at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs and Central St. Martins in London exhibited his work at the just concluded DAK'ART. The Cameroonian-Chadian artist titled his work The Upright Man "a mixed media installation offering an apocryphal look at the life and legacy of Thomas Sankara, the late president of Burkina Faso."

Gam, trained in Paris at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs and Central St. Martins in London exhibited his work at the just concluded DAK'ART. Photo: Facebook/Pierre-Christophe Gam

Gam took inspiration from the west African practice of "using printed textiles to share ideas and values" thus blurring "the boundaries between Art and Fashion by using fabric and pattern construction as a means to tell the story of this great African hero."

Gam's work sought to explore "Sankara, the myth, as the last prophet of Pan-Africanism." A wide variety of techniques were used in the installation ranging from pencil colour drawing, pixel art, photography and digital manipulation.

The figure of Sankara on the continent still looms large. For many, he was the ideal African leader. Patrice Lumumba is another leader whose assassination shook the continent and left his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo in decades of chaos. Art preserves the memory of those we've lost. It could not be channelled to a better cause like remembering those African leaders who were victims of imperialism and greed.

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