These paintings by So Fu carry on in the tradition of the neo- expressionists and in particular Basquiat and other graffiti artists from the late 1970s and 80s who gradually moved from the street into the gallery and in doing so changed the face of modern art forever.
These pictures are rooted in conflict, in a colonial history that brought So Fu – whose parents are French and Ivorian – from France to the Ivory Coast and a life of tumult and war. His escape lay in the paintings of the French masters, Géricault and Delacroix, and the poets and philosophers of 19th and 20th century. Into that potent mix came urban art, an immediate and expressive form that enabled him to tell his story, quickly, viscerally and in tune with the burgeoning hip hop scene.
After fleeing the conflict in the Ivory Coast So Fu stopped painting – his time in West Africa too traumatic, his studio and lifes work destroyed – and instead turned to the internet, making digital and interactive paintings, images that left a permanent digital imprint, could not be destroyed by the soldiers of war. However digital art couldn’t sate his appetite for mark making, didn’t have the physicality he so desperately sought and so, after much reflection on his chaotic life, he returned to a more personal art, a physical one, with brushes and chalk, acrylic and pastels, each panel, canvas and collage made in the frenetic pulsating rhythm that comes with the exorcism of time, his work finding space to breathe within a new urban cultural lexicon born out of dissatisfaction, rebellion and politics. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
To challenge each brush stroke …think about every brush stroke …change the world in every brush stroke, a story with one image, a story that lives and changes as it is painted … Often overlapping several stories on a single canvas. A painting is never finished, never definitive, it is a mental projection and personal evolution that continues, even hung it must continue to tell a story to the beholder. In fact, the difficulty is not to start a painting but to accept to finish it.