Hervé Yamguen

Year and place of birth: 1971, Douala, Cameroon Location: Douala
Herve Yamguen 2

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Hervé Yamguen is a Cameroonian poet, photographer and visual artist, living and working in Douala, Cameroon. His interest in art developed at a young age, yet he was not encouraged by his family to pursue a career in the field as it clashed with their traditional values. He gained their support, however, when he started painting at the age of 17, and his self-taught practice evolved into a singular artistic vision by the late 1980s. Since then, he has trained in Cameroon and abroad, including a year at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg in 2000.

While focussing mainly on painting and sculptural work, Yamguen has also explored other mediums, namely photography, performance, installation and stage design. His passion for writing developed as a means to question and reflect upon his identity; his poems have been published in several collections. In his hometown of Douala, the artist lives in the district of New Bell whose particular urban atmosphere has allowed him to participate in various activities. Through the Kapsiki circle, a local design collective, he facilitated and supported the opening of K Factory, a contemporary art gallery and artist residency programme.

Recently, he was inducted as a notable in the village of his father (Bandja-Balassie in the upper Nkam). As such, he was able to reconnect with traditional customs and rituals while maintaining his contemporary art practice. “I have been working for years on the subject of ‘human-plant-animal.’ In the crafting of shapes, things shift and blend with one another; it is a metamorphosis, a transfiguration. A human face becomes a bird figure. In animism man, nature and animals are in communion. My work flows from a stream of consciousness, like in a dream. My art is rooted in the need to transcend everyday life, to move beyond the realm of reality. The colours become a universe of spontaneity of gesture, with feelings pouring out of my heart. I use series of images, like a storyteller.”

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