Martinican artist Gwladys Gambie celebrates the Black female body, sensually and mythologically questioning oppression, control, stereotypes, norms, and representation. Poetic of Celebration depicts the poetics of the feminized body in ways that free it from the constraints of colonialism, patriarchy, and racism. It consists of six new drawings rooted in African mythologies and traditions in Martinique and inspired by Manman Chadwon, Goddess of Sea Urchins and descendant of the Afro-Caribbean deity and goddess of the ocean, Manman Dlo. Manman Chadwon is Gambie’s alter ego—a metamorphosing and emancipatory figure who spiritually connects the artist with nature and her African ancestry. Bodies, flora, and fauna intermingle in Gambie’s drawings, where the colour red features prominently. It represents blood used in rituals, connecting ancestors with the living, and renders present those who have been lost through centuries of enslavement. Gambie’s art liberates the feminized body by bridging generations, continents, temporalities, ancestors, humans, and nature. 

Commissioned by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), co-produced by Gwladys Gambie and HKW, 2023.

Work in the exhibition: Poetic of Celebration (2023), drawings, ink on paper, mixed media, 75 × 110 cm each. Courtesy of the artist