Paul Sika is a fine art photographer based in Côte d'Ivoire, whose psychedelic creations have gained attention from around the world. Paul's work has received glowing press from the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, Forbes Afrique, ARISE Magazine and many more. Furthermore, his self-published book, At the Heart of Me, is an Amazon Bestseller.
Today, Paul shares his journey and inspiration and discusses the "visual linguistics" of our continent.Paul. His story proves again what several other Afri-love interviews have: following a traditional training path (e.g. pursuing a particular course of study in an educational institution) is not always necessary in order to successfully follow your dream. It may be more powerful to interrogate your excuses and perceived barriers and, destroy the illusions you hold.
What's your passion?
Since I was a kid, I have been in love with video games. Watching animation is also a moment I cherish as well hearing new thoughtful stories. Writing a script, taking a photograph and digitally painting it, is for me a magnificent opportunity of discovery. As a medium, one can find it at the frontier of art and technology and as an activity, my passion is the manifestation of beautiful imagination.
What inspired you to become a photographer/artist?
I was walking down Tottenham Court Road, a London street famous for its computer shops when I was suddenly mesmerized by a video playing in a window. It was the trailer of The Matrix 2: Reloaded, showing the highway car chase, with an agent jumping from one car and crashing another. I was impressed. I asked myself: “Is this the type of imagination required to make great movies? Because if it is, I think I am well equipped”. This marked my life… beautifully.
Not wanting to jeopardize my studies, I bought a camera to experiment with the static picture, projecting to go to film school after I completed my Bachelor in Software Engineering. This was the plan. The latest news is, 6 years later, I’m still experimenting. I discovered how amazing the medium of photography is, opening dimensions of expression I had not foreseen.
After Westminster University, I was accepted at London College of Communication on a photography course. I received the letter while I was on summer holiday back in Ivory Coast. For several reasons, I preferred to stay in Abidjan and never attended the course. I kept working on my photography like before, outside of a traditional institution.
What has your greatest obstacle/challenge been?
My greatest obstacle and challenge in life has been to exit the invisible 'House of Illusions'. It is the House that keeps you trapped in a neverending cycle of new beginnings without ever reaching a significant goal because all things inside it are like mirages.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
Designed to beat you every time you play by its rules, the single most important fact that guaranteed my victory was to understand that all its rules were a dead-end. Thus to break out of it, the move was to play by the greater rules that encompass even the 'House of Illusions'. Enters the realisation of the path to the 'Gates of Justice'.
What has your greatest achievement been?
My greatest achievement is not material. It is to have gone beyond the theory of it to practically understand that life is a system with principles that one ought to know in order to achieve their greatest potential.
Where will you be in 10 years?
Not being able to know where I will be in 2 hours, 10 years is even less predictable for me. But the aspiration and hope I have for myself is to be very well advanced in the realisation of my dreams.
How does Africa inspire you?
In my work, I discuss universal themes using a visual language implicitly designed with words that are objects of my environment. Thus, Africa in its shapes and forms, provides me with a unique dictionary to express my imagination and stories. In fact a study could be made of it, to uncover a special type of visual linguistics.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I have authored a book entitled At the Heart of Me which, was self published and released on Thursday the 11th of April 2013. Thankfully, it soon became Amazon’s number 1 African Art best seller. I would like to invite all to delve into it.
There are as many Africas as there are people perceiving « that thing » called Africa.
Revised, corrected and augmented, this second edition of At The Heart Of Me is the visual and written first witness account of a young man who aspires to attain the African Dream.
And what is the African Dream? The African Dream is the African version of the Human Dream.
At The Heart Of Me can be considered the logbook of a contemporary voyager, as he sails through the days and nights, in attainment of the dream of dreams.
There are two interwoven books within At The Heart Of Me. One is a collection of a colourful photo series, painting the portrait of a vibrant world and the other is an ensemble of anecdotes and insights, experienced over the distance travelled. Together, they constitute the trail left behind by a joyful journeyman.
This book will serve Africa and its lovers, its thinkers, its tourists, its visionaries, its dreamers, its builders, its explorers and its questioners.
And will also help the author get new friends 🙂
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
At the Heart of Me was originally written in English and it is my wish to make the book available in several more languages to widely share its contents. As of now, the French version is coming out soon and the Italian version is in the works. I am willing to have the book available in Japanese, German, Spanish…
There are other projects in the pipeline that will gladly mention when they are more advanced.
If there is anybody out there interested in contributing one way or the other, be it for a translation, an exhibition or anything else, just contact me. It would be a pleasure to exchange.
Images courtesy of Paul Sika.
- Côte d'Ivoire Independence Day – A celebration of photography and music
- Interview with Artist and Photographer Mutua Matheka
- Interview with Artist Tamara Natalie Madden – Tamara's portraits share the vibrance of Paul's work
- Art School Confidential – In conversation with Kesha Bruce
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