"Art is a powerful tool conveying ideas but also allowing me to escape."


Rakajoo is a portrait artist who weaves stories by borrowing from the codes of painting, animation and comics. From oil and acrylic canvases to hybrid works combining painting, sound and image, his work has a cinematic dimension that generates a narrative and inevitably leads the viewer to wonder about the scene they are witnessing.
While Rakajoo sometimes draws inspiration from classical painters (Vermeer, Whistler, Manet), his subjects are firmly rooted in contemporary times. Through portraits and everyday life scenes that are often intertwined with his personal world, he bears witness to life experiences and reveals the dynamics of change, whether they relate to individuals or to the urban fabric. His first solo show at the Danysz Gallery, Les Trois Châteaux (The Three Castles, 2021), illustrates these considerations. Indeed, the title alludes to the Parisian districts of Châtelet, Château d’eau and Château rouge which hold a personal connection to the artist, offering viewers a new perspective on Paris
Rakajoo, whose pseudonym means “stubborn” in Wolof, was first spotted in 2008 at the inauguration of the monumental 300 m² fresco he had just created at his boxing club in Aubervilliers. In December of the same year, he took part in a group exhibition on the theme of sports, at the request of the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation. This show marked the beginning of his career as a painter and led him to take part in many group exhibitions like Boxe! Boxe! at the Blachère Foundation (2012), the 12x12 festival at the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration (2015), Jusqu’ici tout va bien at the Palais de Tokyo (2020) and Transport commun for Collection d’art Société Générale (2021).
In many of Rakajoo’s works, a character wearing a tribal mask subtly blends with the landscape or the background, like a ghost ー an enigmatic and anonymous silhouette that could be the artist himself or a figure of otherness, indirectly raising questions about his dual culture. These reflections prompt the viewers to wonder about what it means to be an artist from a diaspora in today’s society. Indeed, if Rakajoo’s characters have their own individual stories, they belong to a broader narrative: that of Afro-Europeans. As Palais de Tokyo curator Hugo Vitrani emphasises, “[Rakajoo’s] work finds its roots in an Afropean soul that is characterised by duality and pluralism: a story about being African, European and both at once without discontinuity”.
Born in 1986, Rakajoo is a French artist living and working in the Paris area. A graduate of the Art & Image section of the Kourtrajmé school founded by the director Ladj Ly and the artist JR, he is both a professional artist and a high-level boxer. First noticed in 2008, he went on to exhibit in Paris, Shanghai and Luxembourg. Awarded the Prix des Amis du Palais de Tokyo in 2022, he opened his first solo show at the Parisian institution entitled Ceinture Nwar in October 2023. Today, Rakajoo is a painter, a creator of animated films, a boxer and will soon be an author-illustrator as he is to release a comic book with publishing house Casterman in 2024, named Entre les cordes.