Believe is a new series of paintings by Vancouver-based artist Ghislain Brown-Kossi. Otherness, the artist’s leitmotif, is what Brown-Kossi believes unites all of humanity and is a reoccurring theme in his work. In other words, he feels our uniqueness is what we all have in common, as explained in Ubuntu’s humanism of “I am, because we are”.
In Believe, Brown-Kossi reactivates the ancestral symbols that he is known for using. Inspired by various geographical locations and cultural groups, the symbols are reworked and given new context. Manipulating them in this way, the artist’s intention is to free them from the temporal, spatial, cultural and religious constraints and attachments that may exist, immersing the viewer into a new visual language. The unique colour combinations and built-up symbols made of plaster reinforce the idea of ‘artist as architect’ of an imaginary new world that is united through communication. The fluid, circular shapes and pop colours are both references to his African heritage whereas the opposing straight lines and muted tones are references to what is more commonly seen in Western cultures, both of which are important to the artist. Rooted in art history, his other references include the compositions and colours of Wassily Kandinsky, Ellsworth Kelly, KAWS, Supreme and Takashi Murakami. Historical references such as ancient architecture and bas-relief carving are also signaled in his texture and built up use of plaster.