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PORTRAITS RISING STARS

Par sarah - Publié en juin 2013
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Here are eight hot artists, painters, directors, singers, an actor, a filmmaker and a choreographer who have broken through or are striving to.

A German gallery owner spotted her talent

BLANCHE OUÉDRAOGO, painter

YOU CAN BE FORGIVEN for mistaking Blanche Ouédraogo’s face for one of her Madonna paintings. She works relentlessly in the sizzling heat under her small, out-of-the-way studio’s metal roof. Painting is a vital need for the 40-something artist. “One day,” she says, “I was inspired by the Virgin’s face but didn’t have anything, no canvas, no brushes, nothing. So I picked up a piece of plywood and started painting with my fingers.” Nothing could better illustrate how hard it is for the artist to make a living from her work.

“It’s gotten tougher in the past five years,” she says. “Before, I can say I really made a living from it.” Yet Blanche dauntlessly keeps on painting, shifting back and forth between abstract art and pictures of legends and traditional or religious figures in raw colours. Her work caught the eye of a German gallery owner, who sold one of her paintings to a collector for, she says, six million FCFA (€9,150). That encouraged her to keep at it, even though she says, “I paint to free myself, to say things, not to sell.”

His plays’ evocative titles are now known outside the country’s borders

ARISTIDE TARNAGDA, writer and director

TRAINED BY Jean-Pierre Guingané, Aristide Tarnagda became an actor by accident when he was “volunteered” for a theatre workshop at his high school in Koudougou. After graduating, he moved to the capital and became a successful writer. His plays’ evocative titles Terre rouge (Red Earth), Les Larmes du ciel d’août (The Tears of the August Sky), Et si je les tuais tous (What If I Killed Them All) and Madame are now known outside the country’s borders: the 33-year-old is currently on tour in Europe with Madame and will perform in an adaptation of Aimé Césaire’s A Season in the Congo at the Avignon festival and in Lyon. Back home, he has set up a theatre collective, Beeneré, to serve as a framework for reflection on the artist’s contribution to society.

Fine writing and a warmhearted look at her characters

APOLLINE TRAORÉ, filmmaker

AT 37, Apolline Traoré has just made her second feature film: I, Zaphira, representing Burkina Faso in official competition at FESPACO, follows Sous la clarté de la lune (In the Moonlight). She took the profits from her hit television series The Testament and re-invested them to partly finance I, Zaphira, which she completed thanks to the joint efforts of her family, technical crew and actors and the precious help of filmmaker Gaston Kaboré, her compatriot. I, Zaphira confirms her fine writing and warm-hearted empathy with her characters. Mariame Ouédraogo, who plays a young widow pinning all her hopes on her daughter, won the best actress award a crowning achievement not just for her but also for Ms. Traoré, whose father, now her “biggest fan”, long rejected her request to study filmmaking.

The great showman who staged FESPACO’s opening and closing ceremonies

SEYDOU BORO, dancer and choreographer

ACTOR, MUSICIAN, dancer, singer, writer and choreographer, among others… Seydou Seydou Boro, 45, wears many hats. A complete artist, he learned his craft at Feeren, a theatre troupe led by his uncle, Amadou Bourou, and from Mathilde Monnier in Montpellier. The brilliant cultural agitator and his colleague Salia Sanou founded the company named after them in 1995 and the “Termite Hill” in 2000. This year Mr. Boro, who has a slender silhouette and a big smile, staged FESPACO’s opening and closing ceremonies before leaving on a French tour with a children’s show. He called the work he created to launch the 4 August Stadium festival Wakatt, “time”, because, he says, “there comes a time when you must take positive action and lend those who come after you a helping hand.”

A young musician and a business student

GREG, singer

GIRLS SWOON when they hear Greg’s tunes accompanied by acoustic guitar, which he learned to play by watching videos on the Internet. His collaborators arrange his music to give his voice a smoother setting. His first album, Laafi la Boum Faan, came out just over a year ago. Greg’s success was a bolt from the blue and the 27-year-old does not want to put all his eggs in one basket: he is earning a degree in finance while leading his music career. This year, Burkina Faso’s president invited him to a dinner in honour of FESPACO.

One of Burkina Faso’s warmest and most original voices, pitched towards world music

WENDY, singer

SHE HAS ONE of Burkina Faso’s warmest, most original voices. Wendy sang rap with a group called Attentat before completely changing her style and forming the band named after her. Her first solo album came out four years ago with Merveilles productions, which she chose for their “artistic follow-up and efforts to fight pirating”. The songs are in the world music vein but tinged with pop sounds. Wendy says she has fulfilled her “childhood dream” by making a living from music. Her stage name, which is based on her family name, Sidbenewende, has probably brought her luck: in Mooré, wende means “God”, and it is to Him that Wendy says she entrusts her career.

His naïve, humorous paintings sell abroad

SEGSON, painter

LÉOPOLD SEGUEDA, 34, calls himself Segson because he is Segueda’s eldest son. The young artist has been painting for over 15 years but, apart from in a few private galleries, has had few opportunities to show his work in Burkina Faso. On the other hand, his naïve, humorous paintings have won over foreign collectors. He was selected for the Cairo Biennial in 2000, a residency in Niger in 2008 and Dak’Art in May 2012. This September the artist will be in Nice for the next Francophone Games. In Ouagadougou, where he paints where and whenever he can in his living room, in his courtyard, in the shade he already has a following: private collectors, and shopkeepers for whom he makes funny, bespoke calendars. Segson inquisitive, nosy, a collector of eclectic objects and a fan of Barça and Tintin, references to whom can be found in his paintings uses a technique mixing acrylic and collage. He is working on a painting inspired by the legendary FC Barça-Real Madrid and, in quite another genre, on an installation about child soldiers. His dream: “to be selected for the Venice Biennial”.

A storyteller, slammer and sculptor as well, she intends to “encourage girls to become directors”.

LAURE GUIRÉ, actress and director

SHE HAS APPEARED on television in Taxi Brousse (Bush Taxi), on the big screen in Julie et Roméo and L’Or des Younga (The Gold of the Younga) and on stage. Laure Guiré is also one of Burkina Faso’s few female stage directors. In March she directed The Charlatan, based on Jules Romains’ Knock, a hit at the Ouagadougou International Theatre Crossroads (CITO). Ms. Guiré, who is also a storyteller, slammer and sculptor, intends “to encourage girls to become directors”. The 40-year-old is a pillar of the CITO, where she has set up a “gender” unit. Judging from the actresses’ performances in her latest play, it looks like she is on the right track.

By Sarah ELKAÏM

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