Tayou began his career as an artist in the early 1990s in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Heavily influenced by his nomadic lifestyle, the rapidly globalising world and by questions pertaining to identity and social conformity, his international debut came in 1995 at the International Biennale of Kwangju, South Korea. Since then he’s gone on to garner much international acclaim, securing his position as one of today’s leading contemporary artists.
His piece, Cache Sexe, was included in Sotheby’s inaugural sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art in May 2017, achieving a record breaking sale price of £52,500.
Sotheby’s second sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art will feature a selection of four works by the esteemed Cameroonian artist, including pieces from the collection of well-known New York collectors and philanthropists Jerome and Ellen Stern. Others artists include Wangechi Mutu, Marlene Dumas, Claudette Schreuders, Yinka Shonibare and Nandipha Mtambo.
Amongst the works from this renowned collection to be auctioned in Sotheby’s upcoming Modern and Contemporary African Art sale is Kids Mascarade I/II/III (£4,000–6,000). Presenting children sporting cartoon character masks— which appear to be depictions of the Chinese cartoon character, Xiyangyang — Tayou explores post-colonial African identity within a globalised world and the rise of new neoliberal economic policies on the continent. The artist also plays with the concept of identity by masking the faces of his subjects, distancing them from the viewer.
Sotheby’s sale will also feature Chalk or Charcoal Q (£15,000–20,000), a large scale work composed of pieces of chalk and charcoal in the artist’s frame. In this piece Pascale Marthine Tayou uses a number of intricate patterns, reminiscent of traditional West African tapestries, that together form a unified whole.
Interview with Pascale Marthine Tayou
In a brief interview with Adriana La Lime from Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary African Art department, Tayou discusses his beginnings as an artist as well as his current creative practice.
Adriana La Lime: You are known for working with a variety of material and themes — can you speak to the reason for this incredible variability?
Pascale Marthine Tayou: The world is my inspiration; it is so large and full of objects which through their diversity help me bring about solutions to my existential questions.
AL: It is often said that you lead a nomadic life and that that is a great influence in your work. What about that sort of lifestyle inspires you?
PMT: Curiosity guides my path forward and allows me to experience the pleasures of the discovery of the unknown. This is something that fascinates me and nourishes my will to live. I like to say that, "A rolling Pascale gathers moss."
AL: You have touched on gender (and identity on a broader level) within some of your work. Can you speak about how you tackle this?
PMT: The inspiration of inspiration makes up part of my most beautiful secrets and I do not yet know how to explain the mystery that is the dreaming of the dream.
AL: Can you tell us a little about how you started your career in the arts? How have you come to today?
PMT: I am a student of life and what motives me in first instance is the discovery of the path that would lead to the ideal man.
AL: Your work has been shown in biennales, fairs, galleries and museums all over the world. What have been some of the biggest landmarks for you in your career thus far?
PMT: I would have to say that all of the paths that I borrow, so to speak, are worth it. They are all grains of sands that together create a beautiful beach.
AL: Anything exciting on the horizon?
PMT: Wait and see!
CLICK HERE to view the full sale catalogue.