A Portrait of the Artist

The art of self portraiture has a long and varied history. It’s practice is well documented primarily as a technical tool and lesser form of realism from early Chinese history before it was revitalized by the likes of Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo. Samuel Fosso, the Cameroon-born photographer, takes it a step further. Fosso creates portraits of other, often famous, people from the context of his own self portrait. To put it another way, he takes pictures of other people by taking pictures of himself. He presents himself as Nelson Mandela, Malcom X, Angela Davis. It’s uncanny. A beautiful manipulation. His art takes on renewed potency when viewed in light of the current socioeconomic situation. A lot of people, by choice or not, are scrutinizing themselves and looking for a way to be reinvented as someone altogether new. Fosso’s work presents us with a tangible representation of this metamorphosis and begs the question, who might you become?

New York Times