Portraits and self-portraits play an important role in artist Vincent Michéa’s work. They often show people who would like to conceal or enhance certain aspects of their identity, which Michéa accomplishes by adding graphic and photographic elements to the compositions, which he finds in his hometown of Dakar or in his immediate surroundings.
Although the portrayed people seem to be quite ordinary, they experience a dramatic transformation through a simple collage technique that Michéa deems the most violent way an artist can interact with a portrait. The Untitled (black with spot) collage shows the semi-profile of a young African woman whose headwear consists of an architectural fragment – a multi-storey building seen from a worm’s-eye view. Further components include simple typographic dots and a star, as well as a tuft of paintbrush hair. It is the artistic arrangement of these trivial objects that gives the girl a Nefertiti-like appearance, making her a Grande Dame d’Afrique. In contrast, the person’s identity in Untitled (orange with chairs) seems to be fragmented; the face of the portrayed individual no longer exists, having been replaced by a chair turned upside down. Feet and hands stretch from bottom to top, standing like a tie in front of a lifeless torso.