Itchike a Bidias Donald Romaric (°1995) is a visual artist from Cameroon. He works with acrylic, oil, pastel, and collages to depict the men and women whose story he wants to tell. The human figure is in the center of his aesthetic research. Rather than actual portraits, his artworks are the representations of the ”personalities” who by their power have the capacity to influence society. In his series Jujuheads, Bidias Romaric is highlighting these ”superpowers”.
“ "Juju" is an African term that symbolizes the superpower or magical capacities. When someone is too good at something… my people will say that he took a JuJu to do it”, he says. With his art, he conveys the humanist approach to the capacities, dreams, creativity and empowerment of one person who can change its own environment. Thus the more we look at his “personalities” the more we perceive that they are depicted in interaction and dialogue with their background without ever surrounding to it. The use of journals enhances the direct link to the world we live in. They function as bridges between reality and representation, but also between the facts and the representation of the facts.
Journals that have been for a long time the most popular form of media in Cameroon also served as the tool to educate and inform people. The cuttings from magazines and posters included in some of them were in the 1990s and early 2000s the major forms of house decor. Their presence in the work of Bidias Romaric enables him to narrate the story and to represent the news that have been, and are still today, animating the society. He is using journals in both French and English to symbolize bilingualism of the people living in Cameroon and the diversity of the sources of information. Today, when printed journals are being replaced by digital editions, and social media, the printed paper appears as a link to the past, to the stories on which grown the “personalities”, that may have inspired them to become who they are. The narration is also based on the traditional and natural environment present in the prints and vegetal motifs, sometimes the images of the ancestral masks or traditional wardrobe. The clothes and journals also put on the spotlight the tension between the traditional and globalized worlds, that is experienced today in many countries. The ability to embrace their heritage, being able to live in respect of their values while facing the globalized society may be at the very core the “Jujuheads“ that can inspire others and show as many roads to empowerment as there are the human stories behind.