Fashion is a canvas for self-expression, revealing much about who we are through the artistry of our attire. What one wears tells a story of who one is, crafting a beautiful freedom of self-expression. With a seemingly infinite array of choices, expression through fashion becomes an art form of its own. Yet, a dilemma surfaces when greater significance is attributed to the garments adorning the body than to the inherent individuality and distinctiveness that define a person's essence. In this modern world, brand logos often overshadow the individual.

One World II by Boris Anje. Image courtesy of OOA Gallery, Barcelona.

Artist Boris Anje paints a reality where the self is not consumed by a brand but elevated to its equal. Anje’s Afropunk style spills over with vibrant hues and a riot of colours, dripping with the essence of identity and the spirit of consumer culture. In an interview with Arts Help, Anje speaks on the prevalence of consumerism in Cameroon and a large majority of Africa. For him, the power of the self is paramount and should shine as brightly as the brands one adorns oneself with. By promoting the value of self-identity over the brands individuals often feel defined by, Anje’s work feeds into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Responsible Consumption and Production and Good Health and Well-Being.

The Black Guy With Confidence by Boris Anje. Image courtesy of Boris Anje.

Anje’s paintings echo his commitment to realism and fidelity to the figurative form that he has loved since childhood. Drawing characters from comic books at nine and leading his school's art club at sixteen, Anje found his artistic path early. His technique, honed at the Foumban Institute of Fine Arts and under the wing of prominent Cameroonian artists, evolved into a sophisticated style of portrait painting using acrylic on silkscreen.

Anje’s pieces depict the allure of expensive sneakers, handbags, and luxury logos. In his paintings, these icons are stripped of their power and treated as random elements amidst the persona of his subject's true selves. Anje believes it is unnecessary to make abstractions about what the individual consumes. Rather, he elevates the individual to the same level of value that is placed on the brand.

Anje comments that “he looks for a way to merge the person's identity and the person's brand to suit the person's ego, to put the person in that position of power, that position of confidence that he or she is always seeking to be in.” 

Sweet Cabata by Boris Anje. Image courtesy of OOA Gallery, Barcelona.

In Sweet Cabata, a woman is dressed in vibrant red against a backdrop echoing with designer names. Sweet Cabata reminds us that one's essence cannot be purchased or worn. It is theirs alone, as radiant and singular as the colour that envelops the painting's subject.

When I Meet by Boris Anje. Image courtesy of Boris Anje.

Amidst a backdrop teeming with symbols of luxury, the subject in When I Meet commands immediate attention, exuding an assertive aura. The subject is cloaked in an assemblage of high-end fashion brands; each item is depicted with a precision that accentuates its allure, yet the individual's poised demeanour suggests a mastery over the consumerist narrative that these brands typically dictate. The juxtaposition of a graffiti-esque motif with the luminous outline encircling the figure elevates them beyond the chaos of logos. Who leads and follows in the lavish dance of consumer culture and identity? When I Meet contemplates the essence of self amidst a society enamoured with branded adornments, challenging the viewer to decipher where true value lies.

Sneaker Guy by Boris Anje. Image courtesy of Boris Anje.

Sneaker Guy depicts a man surrounded by an impressive sneaker collection, yet the man stands at the forefront, proudly displaying his most prized sneaker. Anje says that Sneaker Guy was inspired by his good friend, who owns many sneakers, yet continues to buy more.

Anje adds, "amongst all the brands that we buy, there are still some few articles that we choose, there are still some things that we belong to.” 

Despite owning many sneakers, Anje’s friend usually only wears a select few. Sneaker Guy is one of Anje’s latest works in a new body of work that asks the question: Does the attachment to consumer items come from the brand, the cost, or the story behind it? 

The Presence of The Holy Spirit by Boris Anje. Image courtesy of Boris Anje.

Anje’s paintings offer a reflective rather than critical view of those who derive value from branded attire. His art invites a deeper inquiry into the reasons behind this attachment and urges a reevaluation of self-worth that sees oneself as just as valuable as the brands one wears.

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