Yannis Davy Guibinga interrogates the colour black and its relation to death

The artist’s new photo series unpacks the colour black as a symbol of darkness, mourning and death.

Canada-based Gabonese photographer Yannis Davy Guibinga is a Design Indaba favourite. From the spectrum of African identities to the exploration of Gabon’s youth, his work deals with underreported African stories.

The 23-year old Gabonese photographer left his home country, on the west coast of Central Africa, in 2013 to study in Canada.

In his latest series The Darkest Colour, the visual artist explores the colour black as a symbol of all things frightening, and relates the colour black to death as a universal truth.

“The Darkest Colour is an abstract representation and visual reimagination of the inevitable loss of the man in his battle with death, very often pictured in the colour Black, or one similar to it,” he writes.

Death’s presence is felt by every individual throughout their lifetime, he says. In the series, death is represented by a seemingly female form looming over and interacting with a seemingly male subject.

“The absence of genitals on the seemingly male subject represents the universality of this struggle and the fact that every individual will die, regardless of the gender identity,” he explains.

The Darkest Colour aims to interrogate, reinvestigate and redefine the stereotypes and preconceived notions not only about the colour black itself, but also about death.

“Rather than being seen as a tragedy, The Darkest Colour aims to reimagine the inevitable act of dying as a peaceful rest after the intense and sometimes turbulent journey that is Life”

Guibinga first solo exhibition, titled Black Portraiture – Decolonized opened on 1 September 2017 in Moscow and is both a celebration and documentation of a “generation of Africans, unapologetically embracing their many identities and cultures in the face of globalisation and Western cultural imperialism”.