#Article (Archive)

Gifted Gambian artist makes impact around the world

Sep 2, 2013, 10:08 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

(Friday, 30 August, 2013, Issue)

Caramo Fanta Camara alias Ifreecan or Free, is a gifted artist born to Gambian parents in the city of Lleida, Spain.

He won his first drawing competition (Premi de Belles Arts de Lleida) when he was in grade two followed by another at grade four and another in a summer camp drawing competition at the age of eight.

“Growing up in Spain, football was a part of me and I have served as captain of my school team and FC Gardeny, a local club in Lleida I played for and winning four championships titles,” he told Entertainment & Lifestyle.

At the age of eleven, he did his first graffiti under the pen name “Mano”.

Growing up in Spain, Ifreecan had an obsession for arts, paintings, graffiti, sculpture, hip-hop, photography and artworks by great artists Picasso, Salvador Dalis, Michelangelo and the likes.

By the time he was thirteen he became addicted to art galleries, museums and graffiti works, which automatically became his source of inspiration to start doing his work in his own way.

During summer, he would spend most of his time on the riverside of the city where he was born, as giant cement walls were the concrete canvas graffiti artists all over the city used to go to do their “graphs” on.

In 2000 after the untimely demise of his father, his family sent him and his brother to The Gambia to learn the norms and values of a Mandinka setting.

And during their stay, he learned how to speak Mandinka, Wolof and English for a decade.

According to Ifreecan, ‘during the hash years with sickness he spent in The Gambia and tired of being pointed out because of his first time in Africa and his Spanish accent, music became his chill pill and he improved his English listening to hip-hop records and writing poetry as a hobby.

“To be honest! Music saved my life when I was depressed especially when my dad passed away,” said Ifreecan.

“Between the year 2007 and 2008 while in The Gambia, I did some work at Katchikally Crocodile Pool Gallery, where I learned valuable lessons from Eddie Jobe and Sam to push my paintings and to create the essence in my painting the urban and Africanised side of me.”

Ifreecan also played a vital role in the Gambian hip-hop community. He does T-shirt printings, murals, graphic designs, graffiti works, album covers, posters, photo shootings for rap groups in The Gambia like La Cosa Nostra, DTE, Street Dreams, Super Biggy, Sir X, Hot Bda sufi and many more with no strings attached.

His works are visible in Senegal, Spain including upcoming clothing companies in Europe like SILENCIO in Holland and R.U.C (Represent Ur Country) in the UK.

This year just for the love of hip-hop he also contributed to a clothing company called Kunta Kinteh fabrics of freedom.

From 2006 to 2009, Ifreecan sold twenty paintings to a gallerist in South Africa, others in Senegal to the late art dealer Morr Seck and other series of ten paintings to Malik Camara, a professor at the University of Chicago and a professional dancer at the Muntu Dance Group. In a world of technological advancement, he also sells paintings, exposes his photography work, and sculptures via facebook and his webpage.

“I have sold more than thirty paintings including the Gambian market as well,” he said.

Just like many artists, prior to his return to Spain to participate in art expositions and seminaries, Ifreecan has also gone through some level of exploitation in The Gambian galleries during his plight to explore new ways of artistic expressions to establish his own gallery - IFREECAN and his artistic ideology in life by adding African style, a graffiti to his Spanish urban style, philosophy and self knowledge to his autodidact creative works and thinking.

His work is no national geographic style of thing. With perfect beautiful landscapes, and all that, what Ifreecan does is more artistic and conceptual in all angles; working by series and each series have its own concept.

In an exposition in 2010, his works were celebrated and sponsored by the Museum of Palma de Mallorca (Museum es Baluard) and was featured in the newspapers and art magazines in Spain.

As a passionate artist, Ifreecan has participated in many art expositions and worked with Antoni Socias, an artist/photographer who came all the way from Spain to see his works and later did an exposition with him titled “Mi otro yo con algunas contadicciones” (my other self with some contradictions). A project which explains a vivid picture of black and white trading places with each other.

Ifreecan has his own art company “Ifreecan Creative Mind Works”.