TO THE PEOPLE OF BISSAU CITY
Bissau City is the capital of the West African state of Guinea Bissau. To the north of the country lies Senegal, to the east, Guinea. Most of the 1.5 million inhabitants are involved in agriculture. The country is smaller than Switzerland. Once a Portuguese colony, Guinea Bissau has had an independent presidential democracy since 1974. The official language is Portuguese, although just 14 percent of the inhabitants speak that language. Instead, they often speak a kind of Portuguese Creole, which is strongly marked by various tribal languages.
Marianne Lindow has captured, in paintings and drawings, her impressions from a trip there in 2006. Her works are a love letter to the people of Bissau City. Few optical elements remain in her canon, symbols left behind from the flood of images she experienced. Hats, canoes, a turban, a kind of legume that is harvested there, the figures we call “watchmen” – and a very few ornaments – are parsed and probed until, in the wake of a painterly process, they are reduced to a minimum. In that process, the particular images are successively detached from the complex interrelationships from which they arise. Thus they develop a universal meaning, above and beyond their specific cultural framework. So the turban is no longer immediately recognizable as an artfully wound head covering; it becomes – as a continuation of the human spinal column – an energetic curve that speaks of flexibility and resistance. The motifs pass through a metamorphosis; through the artistic process, an object from a foreign and exotic hemisphere develops into an element that stems from the artist’s own world of perception and feelings.
Regina Schultz-Möller, 2007
Introductory text for the exhibition TO THE PEOPLE OF BISSAU CITY in the gallery moeller, Bonn.