These are works meant for the eyes that have no fear of what they see. For our eyes have become accustomed to hiding behind ideas, preferring to appear intelligent than to be disconcerted, captivated, or even distressed. What we are talking about here, in the strongest sense of the word, is charm, whereby a gaze is captured by a vision and this vision transforms the one who is, if I may put it this way, at the other end of this gaze. Art which is not purely decorative (playing on prettiness or enjoyment) thus brings about a complete change. Neither the mechanism nor the result is easy to analyse, but the implications are physica,l psychological and spiritual. A magic art is therefore still possible, an art that reaches into our innermost depths through the senses.
Without ostentatious complacency, Afi Nayo’s art gently weaves a discreet spell over whoever is receptive to it. If one pays attention to it, with an unbiased open-mindedness outside of which art cannot survive, one may be swept into the artist’s world, where the ancient cosmic dance is performed in a new manner belonging solely to the artist who carves the symbols of a delicate visual incantation into wood. Although her rapidly delineated, fantastical silhouettes are not governed by the rules of figurative realism, one may easily identify a rhinoceros, crocodile, fish, tiger, chameleon, and a few other more or less imaginary animals, as well as masks, often arranged in squares like the hieroglyphs of an unknown language.
A language that belongs to Afi Nayo alone, a language invented by a woman and an artist, using black, red and white earthy colours that confer an aspect of ancient plaques upon her works. Words and phrases may also be inscribed upon them and deciphered with more or less difficulty. They resemble fragments from a private diary, confidential snippets of poetry. Uneffusive secrets, in the fullness of an accomplished form. The intimacy here is not narcissistic. It is an individual voice, a personal experience, to be shared with others. It is a heartfelt gift.