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Ivorian artist Paul Sika's glorious Technicolor world

From Mark Tutton for CNN
  • Ivorian artist Paul Sika describes his photos as "one-frame films"
  • The vibrant colors in his work are the result of extensive post production
  • He approaches his photos like a movie director and uses actors as his subject
  • He hopes to branch out into fashion and produce a perfume

(CNN) -- Ivorian artist Paul Sika is no ordinary photographer. His "one-frame films" are eye-catching explosions of color, falling somewhere between cinema and photography.

The influence of the big screen is obvious in Sika's photographs, which resemble stills from an ultra-stylish, slightly surreal movie shot in glorious Technicolor.

"The style of photography I have I call photomaking," he told CNN. "It's influenced by cinema -- I call it one-frame filmmaking.

"Behind these photos, what you have is imagination at the beginning, then you have a script that I write, and then you have a cast and crew. We rehearse when needed and then we go and shoot. After that I do the post production."

Video: Capturing the imagination with Paul Sika

Completely self taught, Sika, 24, only took up photography after returning to the Ivory Coast in 2006, having been inspired by an experience he had while he was a student in London.

"I was just walking down Tottenham Court Road, a road known for its computers and electronics shops, and at some point I saw a trailer for "'Matrix 2: Reloaded'," Sika told CNN.

"I was impressed and from that moment on I wanted to experiment and do those kinds of beautiful things."

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The oversaturated, vibrant colors in his work are the result of extensive post production, using Photoshop.

Sika is at home working in the digital medium having studied software engineering at university, and his dynamic style has won him work on advertising campaigns for Ivorian fashion labels.

His work is also gaining recognition overseas, having been exhibited in New York and featured on U.S.-rapper Kanye West's blog.

But Sika is keen not to limit himself to just one medium. Describing himself as a "creative entrepreneur," he has just published a book of images and text called "At the Heart of Me," and is looking for partners to help him branch out into fashion, perfume, and online computer games.

But for now it's his photographs that are grabbing people's attention. More than just eye candy, Sika's images tell complex stories about Africa. One striking photo shows two men using small bags of water to put out a blazing fire. It's an image rich with symbolism.

"It's basically about the personal and collective struggle and the perseverance we show when we get towards a common greater good," Sika told CNN.

"The fire can be understood as the problems in life. The small water bags can be the small means you have to get out of these problems.

"So these youthful people you see are creative enough to use the small means they have to get out of the big problems they're encountering."

It's this kind of positive portrayal of Africans, free of cliches and stereotypes, that Sika says is central to his work.

"You have great people everywhere," he told CNN. "I've been very bent on showing positivity, happiness, hope, in ways that are not just flattering, but in ways that are real."

CNN's Isha Sesay contributed to this report