Mysteries of Desire was presented at Fondation H museum – Paris, from May 13 to July 30, 2022. It is an expanded chapter from her Radical Joy series which was presented at Sakhile & Me gallery, Frankfurt in 2021 and followed an exclusive NFT as a part of a collection with INFEM’s Collective in collaboration with fashion house Carolina Herrera.
Damoah’s installation at Fondation -H Paris comprised sixteen works on paper, developed especially for the exhibition in her London studio. Adelaide Damoah’s creative process, tedious and complex, perfectly mastered while leaving a lot of room for chance, is based on multiple successive layers of mark making, printing and writing on paper. First through the soaking of papers in baths of water and inks in lush colours, followed by the drying of the work, revealing successions of marks and body prints, a process repeated between five and 12 times for each work.
At each stage imprints were made on the paper, sometimes using her naked body coated with shea butter, other times, marks were made using a piece of French lace, hinting at intimacy and desire and other times, her own lingerie was used to mark the paper. The artist’s poems and automatic writings can be found interspersed, embedded and hidden in some of the pieces. Working at night, Damoah plays with the fluorescence of colours, which change as they dry and emerge new in the morning light. “Without any public record of each of these stages, the old faces of these paintings remain hidden and known only to the artist, like secret passions. as Dr Marie-Anne Mancio writes in the text that accompanies the exhibition. “Even where the text leaves traces in the colour, and literally guides the gaze along a circuitous path emphasizing the contours of a part of the body, it never comes to a narrative conclusion, but rather evokes the nature of female desire. »
Damoah has developed a process at the crossroads of painting and performance, reminiscent of the work of French artist Yves Klein and his Anthropometries inspired by judo on falls his mat, combined with the political dimension of the work of the African-American artist David Hammons, who in the 1960s and 1970s created body prints on paper reflecting the imagery of the Black Arts Movement, or the Cuban artist Ana Mendieta who in 1982 produced Body Tracks, protesting against violence against women.
Presented on both levels of the H – Paris Foundation, the ambiguous images of Mysteries of Desire address the internal conflicts associated with female desire, between self-affirmation and vulnerability. Adelaide Damoah tells a universal female story while opening the discussion on female sexual stereotypes in the history of art, explored by Dr Marie-Anne Mancio in her text, The violence of rapture before the beloved. In this series of works, Adelaide Damoah demonstrates another reading of eroticism.
Views of the exhibition 'Mysteries of Desire' by Adelaide Damoah – Paris © Fondation H