For the oldest of us, Marie-José Mauranyapin is not a stranger because she was an announcer at RFO, years ago, at the time when nice faces presented television programmes. She is an artist known as Thykaï and she became an anthropologist in India, a country where she lived for 25 years. During the 10th edition of the Pool Art Fair Guadeloupe that took place from June 14 to 16, we met her, she was on a stand sponsored by Lékouz, a new local beer, with two artist friends, Bruno Métura and Rudy-Marc Roquelaure.
At the largest art fair in Guadeloupe, Marie-José Mauranyapin, better known as Thykaï, presented a series of sculptures entitled “Shapes in Love” made among others with mahogany, gold leaves and bas reliefs in white sandstone as well as an impressive sculpture called “Mystiques Interrogations” in clay from Guadeloupe. Guadeloupean sculptor is not unknown in the local art world even if she stayed away from her island for a very long time. Indeed, she has been showing her work to the audience for more than thirty years. It should be noted that Thykaï began to attend artists’ studios at the age of 6 and continued her training until she was 21. At that time her parents, from Guadeloupe, had settled in France ; her father who was a career soldier often went on mission, his wife and children stayed in the family house located near the city of Nancy.
These long years of learning explain today why she perfectly masters several artistic disciplines including painting and sculpture. “Since early childhood, they always put a spanner in the works. I was artistically “haunted” and I won all competitions even when there were adults. I was in a school where teachers did not like foreigners so I was often in the back of the classroom and I suffered from a severe trauma. Until the age of 9, no words came out of my mouth. I thank this teacher that I had at that time, because of her, I had to go to several psychologists’ office and finally, I joined Roland Grünberg’s workshop, he was a student of Salvador Dali and a friend of Jean Cocteau and looked after children like me who were not in accordance with to the norms. I discovered there several artistic techniques”, said Thykaï.
An anthropologist in Asia
At the age of 21, the young woman arrived in Guadeloupe. She was studying administration, but she did not like school and at the same time she was selling sarongs on the beach to earn some money. She heard of a contest organized by the national television RFO to recruit an announcer. “I went to the selection of candidates especially out of curiosity, to know how the TV worked, I got good marks everywhere except in local culture because I had just arrived in the country and I still had to discover many things but I was hired. It must also be said that the management wanted all the ethnic components of Guadeloupe to be on the air”, said the artist. For a few years, she will be one of the nice faces that announced the programmes of the small screen.
After this “fame”, the young lady decided to undertake research in art in the ritual. “For 15 years, I sent my project to the Ministry of Culture in several countries. I was not an academic and that explains why it was a very long wait. One day, India replied”, she said. Coincidence or not, Marie-José Mauranyapin who had already a passion for the country of her ancestors went to the Indian subcontinent, more precisely to Pondicherry, this former French counter from which thousands of Indians who wanted to work in Guadeloupe came in the 19th century. “I traveled all over India, I visited many sites and seen many works in Asia. I worked as Ulrich Nicklas’ assistant, a German professor and specialist in South India. I became an anthropologist by my skills and I gave courses to foreign academics in Singapore”, said the young woman.
An adventurous artist
During these 25 years spent in Asia, the anthropologist always kept in touch with the art world. After organizing several exhibitions of her works between 1985 and 1994 in particular in Guadeloupe and St Martin, from 1995 onwards, the artist who is nicknamed “Thykaï” (name in Sanskrit meaning “to transcend”, “to work up the courage”) will go on several training courses in India to learn new artistic techniques. For example, from 1995 to 1996, she trained in papier mache ; from 1997 to 1999, she learned votive pottery ; from 2000 to 2004, she discovered the reproduction of terracotta artifacts dedicated to the popular worship in South India ; from 2006 to 2019, she studied and made “kolams” which are welcome drawings on the floor of each house in South India…
After the death of her grandmother, 8 years ago, the artist came and went between India and Guadeloupe. At the same time, she organized an exhibition of her works at the Rémi Nainsouta Cultural Centre in Pointe-à-Pitre. “I am the kind of artist who has no limit, I am a free spirit, I like experimenting. I am an adventurous artist. In painting, I use pastel, oil, acrylic etc.”, she said. In October 2012, the documentary “F Comme Diaspora” by directors Stéphanie and Steeve James that showed her in her adoptive country, India, was presented at the Espace Régional du Raizet in Les Abymes.
Then, she chose to return to her island for good. Unfortunately, Marie-José Mauranyapin cannot share her knowledge in anthropology on the French territory : “I would have to validate my work experience but nobody can validate my skills in the French system because no one has done these studies (…)”, she said. However, she had the opportunity to lead, among other things, some workshops for the State Education.
At the same time, Thykaï, who remains a household nome in Guadeloupean art, continues his artistic career. Last year, she participated in the 1st Off Art & Design exhibition. This year, the artist showed at the Pool Art Fair Guadeloupe her sculptor talents to the delight of lovers of beautiful works of art…