Idiot Box Cat : IN-TER-AC-TION

Monday 19 November 2018


IN-TER-ACTION, a solo show by Moses Salihou

Moses Salihou is an visual artist hailing from the African country of Cameroon. 
Currently residing in Toronto, Ontario, Moses is a staple in the Toronto art community and one of my good friends in the circle of artists that I know.

Moses's style and creativity is really unique in that, any material, technique or form of artistic expression is his own. Also, his versatility in many different practices of art makes him a force to be reckon with. The many themes of his art work includes: Nature, Abstracts, Portraits and Landscapes.

The Freedom Factory

The Freedom Factory is a gallery in Toronto that is located at 22 Dovercourt Road. It is run by a mother daughter duo, Tiffany and Melanie. They do so much for the community and the artists who are trying to thrive and express themselves by showcasing their works of art, music, business, passion projects, pop-ups, release parties and more. They're a no commission gallery, which means any art sold goes directly to the artists. They also include spiritual practices and healing exercises and yoga classes at their gallery which promotes and helps people revitalize and get in touch with their inner soul and energy. 

So, IN-TER-AC-TION is Moses' second show with the Freedom Factory. This show features a lot of Moses' portrait work, some that are brand new and never seen before and some of his older pieces from earlier on in his career. There's a lot of different modes of colors, feels, brush strokes and compositions in these portrait pieces.

Without further a do, let's get to the art. 


"Purple Rain"
Oil on Canvas
1.5m x 1.2m
Oil on Canvas
36 x 24
Right off the bat, we have these two pieces. "Transition" sports a black background, and many different brush strokes of color. Here we have Moses displaying a face that's kinda muted out, while still keeping the structure and the defining outlines of the face. The lime green gives it a very electric, and static-like feel to the whole painting. The accents of the blush pink, the sunny yellow, and the sparks of red, elevates the imagery off of the white cast of color which almost feels the backbone of the portrait. Moses has a great eye for balance in his works, making the background very minimal while concentrating on one area, and building up that area, by using a process of layering on different accent colors, giving the image dimension and tonality. 

With "Purple Rain" (which is one of my personal favorites from this showcase) Moses makes a very  wash out - muted painting, and all the colors seems to just blend together giving this dreamy like quality. Making it look kind of opaque. The highlights of white on the tip of the brow, the nose, the lips, the teeth and the earrings, has this whole vintage vibe to it as it contrasts from the dark background, and the lack of color. I can't say that the influence of the imagery came from the paintings of the 1900's, but the feeling of this painting in my opinion kind of gives off that vibe. Given that this wash out muted painting has little to no color, still the portrayal of the subject and the huge purple cast of color over the subjects hair or head, really gives this hidden quality of glamour and shine that you wouldn't of realized unless you bother to look at every detail or just taking another look at it. 

Still, I think that the ability to layer on elements in a painting that creates another level of perception, that isn't quite there to the naked eye, is a remarkable skill set to have. Moses, given his artistic ability and his brushstroke technique and layering process, creates those types of visual elements that speaks to the level of his craft. 

Oil on Canvas
36 x 24

Oil on Canvas

"Harmony" features a portrait of a woman or girl (that appears to be) of an south-east Asian decent.
Here Moses sticks to the muted-washed out background, but this time makes a gradient of shades of grey, black and white at the top half of the painting, while getting into muddier colors towards the middle, and then throwing in white and yellow as accents to the blue-ish undertone that makes up the rest of the background. Whether it's a pallet knife or hard broad brush strokes, Moses packs on a lot of simple structured patches of relatable colors together, without detailing any real features out the face. It's quite a nice balance from the realistic look of the hair, standing flat, but still pulling from all the other elements in the piece, which makes it that much more harmonious.

Then we get to a piece called "Release" where Moses takes a different approach to the composition of the piece, instead of painting it vertically or horizontally, he paints the entire piece diagonally. This piece is more expressive than the other ones, highlighting the face in a fierce way with lots of energy and presence by the use of red on one side of the portrait while taking a more mellow approach on the other side of the face. The blue-like background on this one really resonates with the expressiveness that the piece provides. The sharp hints of white and yellow carries through and really shows that the subject could be in space of mental release by the airy blended white stokes that sits above the head of the portrait. 

Which is one of Moses' many features to his work, especially the portrait works. He really gives off the vibe of nothingness and togetherness all at the same time. Leaving you intrigued about the meaning of his work, and even where his mind is at the time. Not to say that I know what he's thinking, but the overall themes and the way he creates might correlate to his thoughts at the time he creates his paintings.

Whether it's a "30 x 40" piece or a "6 x 6", Moses consistently stays with the same style. His ability to successfully scale his work from a micro level to giant proportions, while being consistent with it, is what gives Moses the familiarity that he needs to continuously gather his audience every time he puts on a showcase. 

For example: 

Oil on Canvas

Take this piece, "Serenity" is quite smaller than the rest of the paintings Moses has at the show, and still his ability to create such detail and style. The composition of the subject isn't too imposing with the dark chestnut brown color, and the strikes of red paint rubbed against the face of the subject and the shoulders. From the large earring to the features of the face, here we have a painting that can be blown up to large sizes with the same values and composition without having to add anything to the pre-existing color range and tone. (That's not to say you can't build on more layers to the existing image if it were to be on a larger canvas/surface)

"Interaction 5"
Oil on Canvas

Here we have a series of  portrait paintings of different races of men, all of them have the same grey toned, washed out background, along with the muted coverings, really honing in on the expressions on each of the faces while maintaining the veil of mystery, and downplayed vibrancy that all of them pieces have in common.

Oil on Canvas
"Fusion" is a nice little piece by Moses which features only the details of the mouth and nose, as the rest of the painting drifts off into blends of darker modes of color. Along with Moses' signature strokes of minimal color that sits nicely on the surface. 

This is some of Moses' earlier work

"Men Composition 1"
Oil on Canvas
There were a series of these heavy textured, abstract-like pieces that were at the show. Even with a lot of paint on the canvas, and a distorted subject, Moses still finds a way to make the piece flow together with the cotton-candy color slabs of paint that circles at the bottom of the painting and on the distorted face. Also, the intense darker grays and reds and browns that make up most of the portrait. Finding a striking balance for the tonal grays in the background. 

and now for the stand out piece... 

Oil on Canvas
1.8m x 1.2m
So, "Unbreakable" is one of Moses' newer pieces, and with this one, he defines the dark figure against the blue-ish gradient background. What's really interesting about this piece is, Moses throws in a bit of "cubism" in the face of the figure, making it very busy. Then he keeps most of the figure in a base color. While throwing in a bit of abstracting lines and dots here and there. Creating a very surreal-like tonality and a nice contrast between the darker colors and the lighter ones.

In my opinion, interacting with a piece of art (depending on what your views are about art in general), if there's something that catch your attention or resonate with you, the influence of that visual experience helps you take away something that you've never thought would happen otherwise. It's almost as if the imagery in question kind of allows you to see another perspective. A perspective that's not your own, that's not bound to conventional wisdom, and goes beyond the everyday life of a single individual, and touches on many ideas, whether it's collectively or individually. The theme that Moses has presented to us, could be about self-reflection, self-analysis, or could be about culture, themes of identity of where you're roots are from, how that defines you, and how do you INTERACT with it. 

Regardless of what I say or think about this collection of works he has displayed here, it's his story and his expression that were ultimately experiencing. The moods and the vibes and the way he constructed his presentation is really why we're interacting with his artwork. 

 With that being said, it was a great show and Moses is a great artist
and Freedom Factory is a great space for artists to tell their story and to express themselves 
through their images and visions. 

There's nothing more freeing that people that you love, giving love back through support 
and loyalty, and I think Moses has the support of his audience and his fans, and I hope 
to see what else Moses has in store for us in the future. As long as he keeps creating, and making 
beautiful works of art, we'll keep interacting! 

And that was IN-TER-AC-TION by Moses Salihou 

Follow Moses on all of his socials
Instagram: Click Here
Facebook: Click Here
Website: Click Here

Follow Freedom Factory on all of their socials
Instagram: Click Here
Facebook: Click Here
Website: Click Here

Catch you on the flip side folks,

Paint-Life. 2018.


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