The meaning of his Wolof moniker tips us off: Rakajoo’s painting is stubborn. Like a ungrammatical hyphen popping up where we least expect it, his painting brings together and fuses disparate dynamics, drawing on his personal experience to trace a collective Afropean story characterized by duality and pluralism, a story about being both African and European all at once and without discontinuity.
Rakajoo draws on a range of languages and mediums, from painting to comics to animation, from acrylics to ink, from oils to pixels. He blends subjects, memories and allegories as if he was superimposing washes, in compositions always infused with memories of Seine Saint-Denis, the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood and Senegal, as well as of his career as an Olympic boxer.
The artist depicts the visible or invisible links that bind individuals to their territories and immediate environments. He shows how imagination, consciousness and reflexes are honed, shaped and fractured in specific spaces. The sites he evokes evolve in response to shifting individualities, as well as to the processes of gentrification. His is a painting that questions the porous contours of national identity, in all its complexity, from its ability to ground and centre to its multiple contradictions.