Sumegne [Sumégné], Joseph-Francis
- Lauren Taylor
(b Bamendjan, 1951).
Cameroonian sculptor and printmaker. Although largely self-taught, Sumegne studied painting with Martin Abosolo. He became best known for his sculptural works: figural constructions synthesized through the creative recycling of found objects and materials. His works engage with themes of urban life, public space, post-colonial identity, and the geopolitics of Cameroon and Africa.
Sumegne invented the word ‘jala’a’ as a name for his artistic practice, which he has described as fundamentally interdisciplinary. Through this multifaceted process, Sumegne integrates techniques from various art forms, such as weaving, jewellery-making, colouring, and sculpture. He believes that his works of reformatted refuse demonstrated the capacity for potent emotional, physical, and intellectual outcomes to emerge from waste, a phenomenon to which he has ascribed spiritual significance. Many of Sumegne’s works engage with notions of heritage and identity by importing formal qualities from regional artistic traditions. For example, the faces of his figural sculptures often incorporate characteristics of masks made by members of the Bamileke ethnic group. Similarly, his juxtapositions of bright-coloured plastics against dark industrial elements evoke the patterns of African textiles and jewellery....