Laurel Borisenko (Canada) and Bernandin Bationo (Burkina Faso):
Christ Crucified on a Baobab Tree
by Laurel Borisenko
I made this painting together with Bernandin Bationo, a Burkinabe artist, while living in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The work carries two signatures. It has an Easter theme: we crucified Christ on a baobab tree.
The baobab tree is a sacred tree in most of Africa. Every part of the baobab tree can be used. If you travel through rural West Africa, you will see the bark stripped off the trunk, used for medicinal purposes. The fruit is called 'pain du singe - monkey's bread - as the monkeys love it. Candies made from baobab fruit are tart and nutritious for walking in the Sahel. The dried pods are made into shakers, used for percussion.
There is a West-African legend about the baobab: she was too proud, so God pulled her from the earth and planted her upside-down (the branches look very much like roots).
The crucified Christ is bleeding on a planet containing a Ghanaian doll, which is a fertility symbol. On the right appear four witnesses. The white light in the centre anticipates the resurrection, as does the white light in Christ's heart region. There is an arrow that points from the earth washed in Christ's blood to the witnesses.
Christ Crucified on a Baobab Tree, ink, some water colour, some sand from my yard, and dried pigment that Bernandin makes in a traditional West-African way.
Laurel Borisenko has worked in humanitarian aid and sustainable development in three regions of Africa: West Africa (based in Burkina Faso), southern Africa (based in Zambia) and she is currently in East Africa (based in Kenya). She paints with local artists wherever she lives, and has now had art exhibits on three continents, in Lusaka in Zambia, Geneva in Switzerland and Edmonton in Canada. She is pursuing a PhD which explores the role of artistic expression in assisting communities in conflict and post-conflict contexts to build resilience.
Bernardin Bationo is a well-established artist based in Burkina Faso, West Africa. He has had many solo exhibits around West Africa and also in France. He has exhibited in the elite artist's tent at the famous bi-annual SIAO exhibit in Burkina Faso. Bernadin painted out of the Olorun Gallery in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and has a studio and gallery at his home. Bernadin started painting as a young boy. His mother taught him how to make dried pigments from natural elements - the clay earth, different soft stones, bark charcoal. Bernadin's paintings are from the African soil and incorporate African symbols: spears, circles, village people.
Laurel and Bernardin met while Laurel was working with Mennonite Central Committee in Burkina Faso. They started painting together - literally. They would each be painting on their own canvasses. Then at some point they would run out of inspiration on their own paintings, and start looking at the other's work. Without a word they would simply trade places and start adding to the other's piece. Thus a truly collaborative effort of mutual inspiration evolved.
To view more of Bernandin Bationo’s work, click here