Essamba Art – Discover the world through the eyes of Angèle Etoundi Essamba


Girl with an Amber Earring (2022-2023) is inspired by the Girl with the Pearl Earring, the iconic painting of Johannes Vermeer and is a follow-up to the Renaissance series (2018-2020), which also reflects on the Dutch seventeenth – century, also called the Dutch Golden Age. A time when the Netherlands became the world’s leading economic and trade power and when the country’s art and culture flourished.

But all the glory and splendor of the Dutch Golden Age should not make us forget the darker side that prosperity was based on a colonial system full of violence and based on inequality and exploitation. Blacks were added in paintings as objects and goods, mainly to highlight the high status of their owners.

“Girl with an Amber Earring” revisit Vermeer’s painting.
Contemporary black figures pose in the style of his work, but they occupy a central place. I bring to light the forgotten and enigmatic black figures relegated to the background for centuries in seventeenth- century Dutch paintings and break through with the often-one-sided view of the Golden Age heritage.

Through own expression and emotion and by wearing an amber earring instead of a pearl, the sitters claim their right to to be different, to shine, to exist. They stare at us, proud, self-confident, they invite us to take a critical look at the past and to deconstruct outdated perceptions, to rethink her place in our contemporary world.






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