Samuel Fosso, ‘Lifeguardq’, 1997, Purdy Hicks Gallery

About Samuel Fosso

Cameroonian artist Samuel Fosso has earned the nickname “the man of a thousand faces” for his ability to take on a variety of personae in his work. Fosso began taking photographs at age thirteen after fleeing the civil war in Nigeria. After settling in the Central African Republic, he made a living taking wedding portraits and passport pictures, and began using the leftover frames to take self-portraits, at first to send to his grandmother in Nigeria. "I wanted to show how good I look,” Fosso has noted about these early pictures, referencing his practice of dressing up in bell bottoms, disco boots, hotpants, and other costume attire for his self-portraits. More recently, in his series “African Spirits” (2008), Fosso has continued to transform his appearance by posing as fourteen iconic figures of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, casting himself as Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali, among others.

b. 1962, Kumba, Cameroon