Marc Padeu (1990-), Cameroon

Madonna and Child

, 2019

Oil on canvas

59 x 39 3/8 in. (150 x 100 cm)


About this artwork

Marc Padeu attended art school in the Haut-Penja region of Cameroon, which is known for its production of bananas and coffee. In an interview, Padeu said that people in Europe are very familiar with the products from the region, but “they do not know the faces of the people who produce it.”

This painting is one of a series about those people. Like Padeu’s other works, this one has a religious theme, but it is also a commentary about the effect of chemicals on the people who produce the cash crops for which the region is known.

Padeu said, “In my painting, there is a blue character, a young man who has worked for several years in banana plantations. Maybe he was exposed too much to chemicals, perhaps he is a banana martyr. Some characters have orange hair, also linked to the chemicals used to produce bananas. One thing is certain, the repetitive use of these chemicals has an impact on the bodies of these families and my work talks about that.”

The blue nails and red hair of the woman are testimony to the toxicity of the chemicals used in growing bananas. Other troubling aspects of the painting are the representation of the “infant” that resembles a stuffed toy, and the expression on the Madonna’s face, which is far from serene. Padeu’s work goes beyond criticizing the use of chemicals and cash-cropping, but extends to the harmful impacts of globalization and the long-lasting effects of colonialism.

Hanou Amendah. “Young Cameroonian artist Marc Padeu sets surprising new records at Piasa Contemporary African art auction.” Obatala, November 18, 2019. Accessed May 3, 2023.

Peres Projects. “Marc Padeu.” Artists. Accessed May 3, 2023.

Mutual art. “Marc Padeu.” Artists. Accessed May 3, 2023.

Omenka Online. “Marc Padeu: All the Light on Me.” Exhibition 19 May to 11 June 2021 at Jack Bell Gallery, May 19, 2021. Accessed May 3, 2023.

Artland. “The Blue Man of Njombé.” Exhibition 14 February to 28 February 2020 at Jack Bell Gallery. Accessed May 3, 2023.

Piasa. “Marc Padeu - Voici l'homme !, 2019.” Accessed May 3, 2023.