Ndalla Fernand

I met Ndalla Fernand in the subway. He was dressed in all white from head to toes. His outfit immediately reminded me of the spirit of New Orleans that I had experienced a few months before and I asked him if I could paint his portrait. Ndalla works as the “concierge” of a building on the Avenue de l’Opéra in Paris. He is Congolese and has about 300 costumes, hats and shoes: he’s a real dandy.

Ndalla Fernand is also a thinker. He writes about democracy in his native Congo. He is banned to go back by the Congolese government. He regularly goes to a café near Gare de l’Est where customers and servers call him “the Senator” and where he meets with like-minded Congolese friends. I painted his portrait in different settings: on the stairs of the building where he works, in the bar, and on the train.

I painted his portrait in different settings: on the stairs of the building where he works, in the bar, and on the train.I followed him in his daily life to try to understand what animates him. He says that his dandy clothes and accessories of dandy are not meant for him to show off, which is what many critics say of the “sapeurs,” this subculture made up of young Congolese men who dress in extravagant costumes. Rather, Ndalla says that he likes the beauty in everyday objects that his clothes reflect his way of thinking.

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