Art and activism The colour of humanity

Decolonisation: Picture of the painter Mokodu Fall – his first big mural, the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy
Picture of the painter Mokodu Fall: his first big mural – the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy | Photo (detail): © Maik Reichert

Artist Mokodu Fall stands up against racism in the world with fashion and painting. Senegalese by birth, he has been living in Italy for over 20 years and his works are on show in galleries throughout the world – as well as in the streets and on the catwalks. A multimedia reportage.
 

By Sarah Wollberg (texts, interviews) and Maik Reichert (photos/camera)

We meet up with painter and fashion designer Mokodu Fall in Via Assisi, in the offices of the Migration, Asylum and Social Integration Centre for the city of Rome. The paintings of his exhibition Jardin de l’Amour are on display there. We’re going to take one of the pictures and walk across Rome with it to the trendy district of Pigneto, where it will be exhibited along with the work of 20 other artists in the Nuovo Cinema Aquila.
  • Decolonisation: Picture of the painter Mokodu Fall – his first big mural, the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy Photo (detail): © Maik Reichert
    Picture of the painter Mokodu Fall: his first big mural – the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy
  • Decolonisation: Mokodu Fall in his exhibition “Jardin de l’Amour” © Maik Reichert
    Mokodu Fall in his exhibition “Jardin de l’Amour”
  • Decolonisation: Mokodu Fall, the colour red stands out in all of his pictures. For him it’s the colour of humanity © Maik Reichert
    Mokodu Fall: The colour red stands out in all of his pictures. For him it’s the colour of humanity
  • Decolonisation: Mokodu Fall – He’s been applying his art to clothing for some years now. His pictures aren’t just on show in galleries now, you can also see them on streets and catwalks all over the world © Maik Reichert
    Mokodu Fall: He’s been applying his art to clothing for some years now. His pictures aren’t just on show in galleries now, you can also see them on streets and catwalks all over the world
  • Mokodu Fall © Maik Reichert
    Mokodu Fall
  • Decolonisation: Picture of the painter Mokodu Fall, his first big mural, the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy © Maik Reichert
    Picture of the painter Mokodu Fall, his first big mural, the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy
Mokodu is originally from Senegal and has been in Italy for more than 20 years. He always wanted to be a painter. His works are influenced by Africa and other places around the world. He feels as though he belongs everywhere a little bit. He comes from Dakar, but Rome is just as much “his city” today. The colour red stands out in all of his pictures. For him it’s the colour of humanity: “No matter where we’re from, the same colour flows through all our bodies.”

Human rights and dreams

His first big mural is here too: the portrait of a young activist and field worker from Mali, Soumaila Sacko, who was shot dead aged 29 near the shantytown inhabited by African agricultural workers in Southern Italy. “We need to get to know each other better and overcome our fears. That’s the only way to create a peaceful world. We need to make sure that human rights apply to all humans.”

To Mokodu, racism is a global problem. It exists everywhere, and so we need to fight it together. We should start by looking at ourselves: “Everyone’s got something unique inside themselves. We should do everything possible to let it become reality!”

From the gallery to the catwalks

Art and activism are quite naturally linked together for Mokodu. It’s typical for him to campaign for more justice and to initiate dialogue with other people. He’s been applying his art to clothing for some years now. His pictures aren’t just on show in galleries now, you can also see them on streets and catwalks all over the world.

When he sees people wearing his Jardin de l’Amour collection, it’s his own personal dream come true. To him, it’s very important to give the word something beautiful. “All countries should invest more in education and culture. If we head in that direction, we can change things.” That’s his little vision. And while we’re accompanying him to the exhibition in Pigneto this evening, it’s impossible not to picture it on a large scale.