Joël Mpah Dooh (b. 1956) is a flâneur of sorts. He is an observer, a witness, a wanderer, strolling through the strange scenes that make up contemporary urban life. Rather than directly transcribing images of the city, Dooh is preoccupied with the psychological landscape of those who navigate it. His abstracted figures harbour at once the banality and ever-changing nature of urban life. These are figures who negotiate fragile identities, caught in liminal spaces of movement and transformation. Surreal images synchronise to this state of reimagination and reinvention that dramatises urban life.
We are pleased to revisit Dooh’s work at our pop up space in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD. Steps away from the taxi rank, St. George’s Mall, the street vendors of Adderley, Dooh’s work amplifies in meaning. The simultaneous shock and delight one feels when walking through these spaces culminates in Dooh’s methodology, as swaths of bright paint, reminiscent of street artists, are layered on top of scratched aluminum, which gestures towards the confusing and often violent attributes of the city at the end of the world.
Joël Mpah Dooh lives and works in Douala, Cameroon, and studied fine arts in Amiens, France. He was a
visiting artist at the Bag Factory in Fordsburg, Johannesburg and recently created a live art performance
piece for the 2018 Dak’Art Biennale. His work is also currently on show at the UJ Art Gallery in Johannesburg as part of the group exhibition, TRANS. Over the years Dooh has held solo and group exhibitions in Cameroon, Austria, Senegal, France, Cuba, Lebanon, Kenya, and the United States.