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Biography of Issa NYAPHAGA

Cameroon > Arts : Issa NYAPHAGA

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Biography :

Issa Nyaphaga. Artist from Cameroon.

Issa Nyaphaga was born May 31,1967 in Douala (Cameroon) and grew up in the small village of the Tikar tribe, called Nditam, in the very heart of Cameroon’s equatorial forest.The Tikar are primarily farmers and like the other Tikar children, Issa was initiated in his early childhood into traditional painting. He learnt how to mix mud, colored substances, which are used to decorate the walls of houses. natural pigments and other . 
He painted with his hands and fingers. At fourteen Issa went to Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, in order to pursue his studies. He met a local painter, Kanganyang Viking, his artistic “spiritual” father with whom he completed and perfected his training. After High School Issa started working as a political cartoonist in a satirical newspaper, “Le Messager Popoli”. Opposed to the political
regime in Cameroon, he was tortured and jailed. In 1996, he escaped from his country to seek asylum in France, where he is currently working and exhibiting his work. In 1998 Issa was the leading artist in
the collective exhibition, “Un Vrai Livre d’Art” held at the Musée de l’Homme (Paris) and organized by “La Plume Noire” As being an activist devoted to the issues of refugees, Issa Nyaphaga was invited on 6/16/2001 to address the French parliament on the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Refugee Convention.
Issa has developed a unique painting technique, known as “Capillarism”, which uses human hair as a first layer on his canvases (paper, canvas, wood and hardboard) prior to applying color. He also experiments with different textures such as sand, mud, feathers, recycled material and leather. He is said to be the “ragman of painting” because he rummages in garbage cans, picking up and collecting all kind of objects. He primarily works with salvaged objects: “I turn disused objects away from their first use and give them a new birth”, he says.
Since 1997, Issa has taught his painting techniques in universities, cultural centers and social institutes. He also conducts therapeutic workshops for children-at-risk and teenagers in collaboration with the association “La Source” of which Gérard Garouste is the president. He illustrates books published in France.





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