MAGNIN-A

JOHN GOBA



Né en 1944 Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone.
Vit et travaille à Freetown.  

John Goba est d'origine Mende, né dans la Bondo Society (société secrète des femmes) dans laquelle sa grand-mère jouait un rôle important. Cette société donne à ses initiés une identité sociale et une plus large compréhension du monde. Le monde au sens large, celui occupé par les vivants, les morts et les dieux. A l'issue de son initiation, il s'installe sur Mountain Cut à Freetown, où vers l'âge de trente ans il eut une révélation (les artistes des peuples de la forêt expliquent ainsi l'origine de leurs activités artistiques). Ses sculptures réalisées en bois, colorées de peintures industrielles, s'inspirent des savoirs traditionnels, des secrets et des contes des différentes ethnies. Mais il prend des libertés à l'égard des traditions et réalise des sculptures qui résultent d'un savant mélange de son imaginaire fantastique et de figures empruntées aux "histoires" traditionnelles. Une multitude d'épines de porc-épic plantées sur les personnages principaux assurent leur protection et "interdisent " l'accès au "cœur" de la sculpture. Chaque œuvre illustre des "histoires" dont seul Goba détient les clés.

 



Born in 1944 in Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone.
Lives and works in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  

Of Mende origin, John Goba was born into the hermetic milieu of women’s Bondo Society, in which his grandmother played an important role. Goba came of age under her protection, and at the end of his period of initiation, he settled in Mountain Cut, a district in Freetown. There, when he was about thirty, he experienced a revelation that prompted him to begin making masks for the Ode-lay initiation rituals and masquerades that had sprung up in Freetown in the 1970s.  Ode-lay masks and dress are characterized by an extraordinary ornamental exuberance, incorporating unexpected materials (such as Christmas tree ornaments) to achieve spectacular effects.  Goba’s first masks, made of wood and brightly coloured with industrial paint, initially followed Ode-lay customs.  As he became more experienced, he began to create sculptures with greater freedom.  

Goba’s imagery is inspired by the traditional lore and mysteries of his environment and his sculptures are a skilful blend of figures borrowed from time-honoured tales and his own fantasies. A multitude of porcupine quills invariably protrude from the main characters of his tableaux, as if assuring their protection and forbidding any access to the heart—or secret core—of the work. Each sculpture, Goba likes to say, has its own private history to which only the artist has the key.