George Fochive of Portland Timbers connects himself and his culture through upcoming art gallery

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George Fochive of Portland Timbers connects himself and his culture through upcoming art gallery

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Portland Timbers midfielder George Fochive will host an art gala showcasing his work in Portland on October 6th.

It’s a big diversion from the grind of professional football, but a welcome one. His first toy that he asked his mom for was Lego. He said he wasn’t there to play, he was to make something he could use. Mom was impressed by her son’s ingenuity.

Years later, born in Washington, DC and raised around the world, Fochive found himself focused on getting a college scholarship and the opportunity to continue his studies. Soccer was the easy answer, but Fochive stood out. He eventually moved to Hawaii where he played for the University of the Pacific and later the University of Connecticut.

Through economics classes, soccer practice, family moves to new countries, and life-changing experiences, one thing has always been on Fochive’s mind. it’s an art. Creative expression was his secret passion.

“No matter what I was studying, I was always taking a class or two. ,” says Fochive. “Anything related to art so that I could learn something. I was just interested.”

Fochive’s childhood and professional football career took him around the world, including his family’s native Cameroon, and across America. He spent nearly ten years of his youth in France, and also lived in Denmark, Israel and elsewhere. Along the way, Fochive’s journey not only influenced his art, but his understanding of the value of creativity and how deeply art is woven into his cultural background. .

Fochive, 30, works primarily with acrylics on canvas. When he was younger, he said, he used to paint a lot, especially when he lived in France. As he follows the classicism that defines the French artistic soul.

“I think I lived on four continents and knew four languages ​​before I was 15,” Fochive said. “So other cultures, other forms of art, history, thought, psychology, literature, these are all things in my memory bank. It’s about painting.”

Wherever he lives, Fochive has been connected and influenced by his fellow West Africans. Some of them were Timbers teammates, including Nigeria’s Fanendo Adi and France’s Larry Mabiala via the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Addie also plans to sponsor Arthis gala in some way, and Mabiala plans to buy the paintings “if they can afford it.”

Many of the faces in the Fotive Paint are dark skinned with strong features surrounded by color. When he needed a space to showcase his art, the first stepping stones were her Fatou Ouattara and her team at Portland’s West African restaurant Akadi.

“That’s the West African culture,” Fochive said. “We are so connected through art, music, laughter and culture. It means a lot to us because that is who we are. Music, art, food. It’s not, but it’s been stolen and used by the West, which means people tend to develop this mindset not because they’re naive, but because they want to be happy.”

In a Fochive interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, Mabiala joked that Cameroonians are “like little brothers” to Congolese people.

“We need guards. We are calling the Cameroonians,” Mabiala said with a laugh. “They are strong, but they are not very smart.”

In fact, Mabiala is in awe of Fochive’s creative genius. And connect on a deep level with teammates and friends from a cultural perspective.

“We come from almost the same culture,” Mabiala said. “He is from Cameroon and I am from Congo. We eat the same food and listen to the same music. We are the same type of people and we are strong. That fact helped him open his mind to see different things and different arts.

“He really learned that he could really do something out of football. It was very helpful to him and I was there from the beginning. The result of putting this art show together is amazing.”

Under the pseudonym Ivan Yaffe (Fochive’s middle name followed by the Hebrew word for beautiful), Fochive presents and sells a collection of works titled “Call Me Bantu” in his showcase. The Bantu are an indigenous group originating from West and Central African countries.

“It comes in the form of color,” Fochive said. “It’s not that you have an intention when you’re painting. It’s just the atmosphere. When you’re done, you look like a spectator. If you have an intention, you stall. You can’t manipulate art. Art makes you You manipulate, you respond to colors and moods, and they tell you what you need.”

Fochive’s art show is scheduled for October 6th from 6:30-9:30 pm at Akadi (1001 SE Division Street). Links to purchase tickets for the 21+ event can be found at Admission is $100 per person and includes complimentary wine and snacks. A portion of the proceeds will support youth soccer in Portland through the Zoukei Family Foundation.

“People told me that what I was doing was really cool, and that they would be curious to see what I could do with it,” Fochive says with a smile. I was. “I was like, ‘Yeah, the community only cares about football.'” But I realized that wasn’t true. Because I’m not only interested in football, it’s my job. So I thought I should show it to people. I hope a lot of people come out and people open up to what I have to offer. “

— Ryan Clarke,, Twitter: @RyanTClarke