"Art is a powerful tool conveying ideas but also allowing me to escape."
"I learned drawing because I love to tell stories," says Rakajoo. All at once painter, animation designer and boxing champion, this multifaceted artist creates acrylic and oil paintings in which he likes to tell stories, or lives. He captures the identities of his models to better render them in his paintings. His characters are inspired by people he meets, that are close to him or that he used to know, from his mother to a police officer present during the 2005 riots in France, to former robbers, sometimes interviewing his models to complement his works with audio tapes.
Rakajoo plays with perspective to better capture the gaze of the viewer. Sometimes he makes allusions to artists he admires and who have influenced his thinking, like Vermeer or Whistler. He introduces variations that combine the codes of comics and animation movies with his pictorial practice to create a world endowed with its own "graphic coherence".
In some of his works, a character wearing a highly recognizable tribal mask blends discreetly into the landscape or setting. For the artist, behind this enigmatic and anonymous figure is the "hidden side (...) which one struggles to fully acknowledge." A ghost that is both himself and the others, and a way of indirectly asking the question of his dual culture, a question he addresses to the viewers: What is it to be an artist from a diaspora in today's society? A question about finding your place in the world, at the very heart of overlapping perceptions.
Baye-Dam Cissé a.k.a. Rakajoo graduated from the Art & Image department of Kourtrajmé School, founded by director Ladj Ly and JR. It was after returning to his roots in the land of his origins that he decided to take on his pseudonym. Spotted for the first time in 2008 within his boxing club where he painted a mural, in December of the same year he participated in an exhibition on the theme of sport, at the request of the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation. Various group exhibitions followed, including one at the Palais de Tokyo in 2020, "Jusqu'ici tout va bien." In March 2021, he was invited to hold his first solo exhibition, Les Trois Châteaux, at Danysz gallery.