Press releases

Web or paper articles and quotes about Kezi Willys


AMINAMAG – Willys Kezi designs the Longines Global Champions Tour poster
ADIAC – Ephemeral exhibition: Willys Kezi at the Éric-Dupont gallery
LE MONDE – Gallery selection: Willys Kezi at Eric Dupon
BLOG Fabien Ribery – Palimpsest women by Willys Kezi, visual artist

Journal Les Dépêches de Brazzaville
Journal Les Dépêches de Brazzaville
Journal Les Dépêches de Brazzaville
Magazine Beaux Arts


If you are worthy of the country, your eyes light up the inside and the outside
Sophie Podolski, Le Pays où tout est permis, 1979 (Edition Fonds Mercator – WIELS, January 2018)

Willys Kezi is a painter so she fights against the image. She looks at it, from her country the Congo and from ours that she sees every day because she lives there now. She observes our society and, within it, the men and women who live there. Black or white, young or old, she meets them physically or virtually on social networks, the “Internet theaters”. She lets herself be invaded, she is surrounded by images that besiege her. Painting frees her from this hold and, more precisely, from those of a series of figures, those of black women, her sisters. That also of the “black woman” such as it is proposed within the systems of diffusion: advertisements, comics, identity legends fantasized by the desire of the other, notably that of the white man.

Willys Kezi puts this image in crisis, not by repeating the criticism of the systems of power but, paradoxically, by questioning, by playing, by ironizing on those who allow them to fertilize this ground, the victims themselves, his brothers and sisters, a part of his community who, in the manner of the dominated of Jean Genet, agree to disguise themselves as actors of a play written by the dominants whose arguments, through the numerical networks, are, today, global. In a labyrinth of seductive, sexual, commercial images, with illusory luxury, Willys Kezi points out the dangers of the voluntary servitude and, with the painting, opposes it.

She undoes the image, undoes its polished character. All that shines is not gold. It prevents it from “functioning” in its artificial logic and beauty. She starts from a stereotype: the sculptural, smooth body of the “black goddess”, a legacy of photography and a certain Western painting. She fragments it, cuts it up, glues it back together. She places it in the center, a real problematic subject, more or less assembled, imperfect but alive thanks to a painting that expresses the painful complexity of a quest for identity.

In a remarkable painting, the yellow color of a hair is, at the same time, a pictorial event and a symptom of a derisory alienation “one hundred percent of European straight human hair, blonde”.

They come to cap a head where the body, thanks to the collage, is imagined on bags intended to be eliminated and thrown away. “Think of sorting” can be read on one of them while in the interlacing of an erotic lace, we recognize from a distant universe, the streets of Paris or Kinshasa, the daily silhouettes of workers or passers-by. In her work, Willys Kezi, mixes, mixes composes.

Thanks to the painting, she explodes the power of the “imposed figures” that she operates to make them inoperative.

Her painting, thanks to its drawing, its deep blacks, its bright colors close to popular arts, to Paul Klee’s “light colors” or, on the contrary, to David Hockney’s surfaces, welcomes us, smiles at us to better lead us to its subject: epigrams against all odalisques, all orientalisms and exoticisms. She maintains the seductive powers of painting. The pleasure, however, does not lead here, to the pleasures but to the troubled theaters of our humanity.

Painter, she affirms, therefore, the space against the images and the forms against the objects. These objects are everywhere. They are our “being given”: luxury products, branded bags, sophisticated underwear, limousines, bottles of champagne but these objects are not emblems nor “glorious bodies”. She pulverizes them. They are poisoned, eaten away by drawings, “graphies” which are epidermal writings, “at the edge of the seen and the read”. Willys Kezi, in the manner of the extraordinary Belgian draftswoman Sophie Podolski, writes in her drawings, her paintings; her writings are drawings, not to hold discourse but to create circulations which are the vascular system of her paintings.

They recall, sell, and pour into a sumptuous body the number of deaths from the Ebola virus, or the price of a banana at the market, or the cost of the day’s food, or the false preaching of evangelists. They associate sumptuous handbags with the word “Vögeln” in German “Kiss”. Kiss to buy, buy to fuck are the terms of exchange. The objects are not objects, their more secret truth is revealed by this writing that irrigates them, that of memory, that of childhood, that of the trade of everyday life, that of the dreamed words, stolen from the songs, graffiti, doodles caught on the walls of Instagram as well as those of the city. They accompany ephemeral biographies. Especially those of women who, despite his love, revolt Willys Kezi. We can read in one work the title of Stefan Zweig “Twenty-four hours of a woman’s life” and in another “I am well brought up” or “At Tombon, free for girls” or “I want to be Kim Kardashian” but also “I am organic, black and proud”, “Thank you mom and dad”. There is a bitter-sweet vision of society without complacency that reminds me of Georges Grosz, Robert Combas or Carol Rama, the lines cross, collide, mate between cruelty and loving compassion. There are dances of bodies without heads, without thoughts. Replaced by labels, flowers or lamps. In the midst of the crises that follow one another, this society plays, disguises itself. The spaces and forms of Willys Kezi do not lecture us. That’s how it is, that’s all, even if we can read, here or there: “Everything is collapsing” but also “Paradise”.

In his paintings, we eat, we drink, we taste a delicious champagne, the “Noir de Noir”, with an enigmatic intoxication. Willys Kezi uses painting, with humor and a sense of celebration, to better leave us uncertain, suspended, worried. It is at this moment, in a very brief performance in the manner of the futurists, that she delivers the heart of her work to us, to the extent of her fears and her pain.

Adorned with an African mask, one of those celebrated by the “primitive arts”, which erases the existential dimension of the being, she enters the stage. A white man snatches it from her, revealing a grimacing face. She pushes, then, a tearing cry and falls on the ground. Her blood spreads and stains her clothing.

In the red, she throws and crushes a yellow, under her belly, that of her food, with this yellow, between expenditure and sacrifice, here is again the eternal, the indestructible bananas of Josephine Baker.