The World Gives Life
Trokon Nagbe’s work draws on themes of memory, migration, history and the passage of timethrough the filter of personal experience. Firmlyrooted in a framework of references that reflect hisAfrican heritage, he strives to push the bounds of his aesthetic whileexploring intricate, and often paradoxical, relationship between the materialand the spiritual, collective and the individual identity as well as theinterior and the exterior. Despite the fact that he does not avoid thesignificance of content, they still manage to conveyto the viewer the mental and physical engagement of the artist with his work.
The visual resonance in his work is undeniable attestingto his ability to seamlessly fuse ancient and modern concepts and aesthetic includingephemeral performances and sound with stringent emphasis on new and innovativemodes of representation while still contesting the meanings of thepost-modern encounter between tradition and modernity: his large-scale works onrice paper are ripped, burned, and chewed to the point where the resultingobject expresses both the destructive energy as well as fragile state of one’sbody and soul. It is deeply meditative, dense with infinite nuances thatexpertly exploits the ambiguity that arises between abstract shapes and imageryas well as the intriguing play between formal intention and narrative potential.The colors and forms of his mixed media work explore other worlds that offerthe viewer a freedom of imagination, interpretation and emotional responses.
Trokon belongs to a generation of artists who witnessed the transition ofAfrican national liberation movements and found new pathways of creativitybeyond the trauma of colonialism, war and poverty. His art bears witnessto a political and philosophical consciousness thatcame out of his experience, drawing on a profound understanding of hisculture, his openness to the world and to diversity as he re-works arthistorical tropes for a complex investigation of the mutable meaning ofartistic border in a global world. Imbued with rich allegory and significance,his work reflects subtle understanding of context, respect for tradition andawareness of the crucial link between function and experimentation.