Boris Nzebo: Noir Desir

Finally, after many failed attempts, I was able to attend a private reception at Jack Bell Gallery. As a part of their mailing list, i get first hand notifications for private receptions, and having always made plans to see how they may compare to others I’ve attended, something always seemed to come up. But this time i was determined, so i made sure to drag my partner along – whenever i try to get Him to come to Jack Bell, they’re always closed for the next exhibition (He has bad juju, i think) – and off we went to Green Park.

I’ve visited Jack Bell Gallery a fair number of times, and I spoke about its location on a previous post – click here. The viewing they was for Boris Nzebo, a Gabonese, who my partner insists is from the Igbo cultural group because of his last name. Boris, if you do manage to read this, let me know if He’s wrong (Hint: I want Him to be).

Boris Nzebo’s exhibition with Jack Bell Gallery is not his first showcase in the UK nor with the gallery. From my findings, he’s been exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery. He is known for his multilayered paintings, where in order to understand the whole image, you have to look at the individual paintings in it.

Lumiere Rouge

As most artists tend to, Boris draws inspiration from his hometown Douala, Cameroon, where he lives and works. His portraits draw inspiration from mostly traditional west African hairstyles which he amalgamated with bits of architecture from his hometown and the urban culture of his town.

La Victoire

On the information sheet given at the reception, Jack Bell Gallery writes that “the paintings address social and political inequality (…) moral questioning of adultery, and the relationship of hairstyle to personal expression and identity.” I have to agree with what was said especially in regards to the La Victoire piece; this painting allows for a multiplicity of readings of the image. I started off with seeing the image as a sort of breakthrough with chains being broken but then ended up on the idea that the men (protesters, maybe) were surrendering. Many interpretations can be taken from this one image.


Noir Desir, french for Black Desire (I’m trusting my instinct and google translate here), is open for public viewing from 8th of September – 22nd of September 2017. Boris Nzebo’s work will also be featured at the Fifth edition of the 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair happening from the 5th October till the 8th. Tickets can be purchased via their website here.


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