Léopold Laka Ankude


One day, the blue arrives in the web. It's a morning or an evening, it doesn't matter what time it is. The season and the general state of things do not matter. Because this blue is an interior color. Léopold Ankude Laka comes from a territory where the elements are made of earth and combat. The ochres have dominated so far. His painting drew its strength from earth and wood.

When he started painting in the early 2000s, Léopold spoke of “a leap into the void”. He has been drawing for a long time, and his father has kept (admiringly) an incredible amount of these childish creations. Then he grows up. The drawing is permanently there, by its side, a comforting presence. “At that time, I was in college, in Libreville, and a professor pointed out to me that I had nothing to do with business management.” He smiles. A few months later, he returned to Lomé and discovered Kossi Assou's studio. He remembers the date precisely. July 18. A shock and the conviction of having to engage in this field. And too bad if he knows nothing about this job, the requirements, the long patience required.

Léopold Laka Ankude discovered at Assou, the potential of matter. The assembly of various elements (cardboard, wood, plant fibers, earth, etc.) could offer him great freedom. “But when the material arrives, it darkens the support terribly. It opacifies. I think from that moment on, my job was to bring clarity back to him. To make this surface light up.” We are in 2000, and even today, he continues on this same path. Coming from within, as well as from without, clarity gives meaning to the construction, whether it is life or the canvas.

Existential, Laka Ankude's painting has been from the beginning. He speaks remembers “of a quest for freedom. I think I have always experienced the fact of painting with great pleasure, the certainty that there was also a form of deliverance. In short, a necessary, almost therapeutic pleasure.”

The emergence of blue in 2018 ultimately marks a kind of crossing. “When I started painting in this color looking for the perfect pigments, it was like finding a culmination in my search for me. I sometimes speak of dawn, for this blue. In my eyes, it is a new day.”

Around this single color, Kossi Homawoo could have met Laka Ankude. But their meeting is older. It is rooted in the Togolese soil, in this power of traditions which continues to mark the work of the painter. The common impressions that will be born, the four-handed work around the painting, will be of this luminous material. “I like the energy that the project gives off. To make light thanks to the painting… it is something that pleases me infinitely. It’s a very humanistic vision.” The path continues, half shade, half light. He arrives in front of a large river. Musicians play, children splash the sun. Eternal mothers watch. Blue.

Roger Calmé (ZO mag’)