Sunday, July 27, 2008

Turbator.


Still no news has arrived about Orokie. But I will keep his blog open in his absence, hoping that news will come soon.

This picture was completed recently by Orokie. (Just before the silence). The picture shows much of what was on his mind.

He was talking (at this time) about his early education at boarding school in Africa. He wrote about the school’s repressive regime, artistically and sexually. (A regime inherited from White male colonialism). These view points clearly enter into the first level of the joke. “Boarding Dorm Fav”.

Then, there is a second level. A picture of an up-and-coming model from Sierra Leone with large boots, whose over-sized boot straps resemble wings, is turned into Hermes/Mercury, god of trade and artists. Orokie’s cartoon makes fun of Western modelling and its commodity fetishism…which includes the Black male model.

And the third level introduces something else that kept flying through Orokie’s mind at this time: the African Hermes, the trickster, the left-hand/sinister side of maleness. Hermes makes sharp and wicked puns…” Help them to come good”. This has always been a character of Orokie's satirical art. Turbator, troubled, isn't far removed from Master-bator...a familiar Orokie sexual pun.

Like the fake product, Orokie’s humour varnishes and strips away layers of repression in the name of freedom.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Lines

Before the recent silence, Orokie sent this drawing through the mail. It came with a thought: “Perhaps, you might like to dance colours within the lines.” How those words seemed typical of him. Dance. Within lines. Yet break lines. Do something new. Against the lines of convention.

It was interesting to see the drawing for Narcissus I. It brought back many memories. It recalled the early talks we had, the first images of Narcissus, the photographs which Orokie transformed, bringing dead images alive with his own knowledge of the Black male body. A new Narcissus grew. At first, the lost penis was not there. Then Orokie added it…as a naughty joke…but such also added another depth to Narcissus. The inked drawing became a drawing about Black male self-discovery: a self awakening to an alter-ego, the other half (of the androgyne). Somehow, in this work, Orokie captured the sexual longing of a brother for a brother, Black for Black, infusing the drawing with a mythological and historical dimension. No longer did Narcissus merely seek himself selfishly. Instead, he sought for the true lover that eluded him…the other made by his dreams, not the Other manufactured by an alienating history.

Putting paint into Orokie’s drawing was a frightening act. There was the danger of obliteration, that paint might destroy pencil line, that the minor hand might not follow the hand of the master. Truly, there was a thrill in painting, in dancing with Orokie. It was an act close to Eros. As Orokie new when he set the challenge. Orokie’s spirit was felt in the energised tracing of lines.

The final painting, Narcissus II is not a copy of Orokie. He said: “Show me your technique, new things.” Narcissus II is an hommage to Orokie. And that is how it should be.