Creativity can come and go, just like the weather. Many of us have experienced unpredictability, where one day you’ll have all the ideas in the world and another you’re going blank. Artist Didier Viodé can vouch for its precariousness – but he never lets it get the best of him. “My days vary according to my projects but also the weather,” he says. “When I’m not outside taking photos, I’m painting, enjoying my family or answering my emails. Whatever the weather, I stay active.”
The thing is, Didier has a true passion for life and has the knack (and creative ability) to pull inspiration from myriad sources. “I love the world, I love humanity and I love life,” he says. It can be anything from a news item to an image from a newspaper or something from the internet or social media, which will get the creative cogs turning. To such an extent that he’ll constantly be on the look-out to find those elements, musings or moments from daily life that he can then transform into an artwork. And once this happens – which is more often than not – he’ll begin to work intuitively. “I do not premeditate anything in advance. My art is spontaneous and contextual.”
Didier’s creative journey was a more traditional one, having studied at the School of Fine Arts in Abidjan in Ivory Coast. After this, he completed his artist training in France, which is where he’s currently based. A typical day tends to flit between various projects or a series of pieces that he has on the go. “Sometimes, I work on the same series for several years,” he explains, citing The Migrants and The Dancers as two examples of longer-term projects. “I don’t have a specific work ritual. I always start a creation with an observation and then I draw my subject on paper or canvas that I freely paint in acrylic.” More recently he’s been enjoying the process of drawing from screenshots he’s taken with his phone, incorporating a more mixed-media approach into his methodology.
What we love the most about Didier’s painting style is the simplicity. Minimal earthy palettes are paired with thick, chunky brush strokes to illustrate his figures, who are often caught in a moment – jumping, standing proud looking away, or gazing directly into the eye of the viewer. Take, for example, The Athlete, a piece made in 2021 following Burkina Faso winning the first medal at the Tokyo Olympics, which captures the athlete mid-stride. “There is a beginning to everything,” says Didier. “It was important for me to pay a tribute through my painting, referencing the bravery and gesture of the athlete. His achievement goes down in history thanks to his determination.”
Self Portrait 1, meanwhile, represents a moment of realisation for the artist. Crafted in 2021, the piece depicts a subject from the back; the person is painted in front of a stark white backdrop wearing a black top. It could quite literally be anyone, and that’s exactly the point. “It is simple, refined and painted with two colours,” he notes. “This painting, despite being figurative, is at the limit of abstraction.”
Having learnt more about his process and concepts, it’s clear how Didier strives for a certain sense of ambiguity throughout his works. He prefers his audience to make their own interpretations. “I love painting the anonymous, the invisible and people from diversity,” he concludes. “My concept is not to have any. I make contemporary art – the art of today – in my own way.”
Didier Viodé: L'Homme aux lunettes bleues-48× 36 cm, acrylique sur papier (Copyright © Didier Viodé, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.