In the vast landscape of contemporary African art, Kifouli Dossou stands out for his mastery of Guèlèdè mask sculpture. Originally from Agonli Covè, this talented artist has turned a family heritage into a flourishing career. Inspired by his father, who carved toys for sale on the market, and his uncle George Kakpo, who also practiced the art of Guèlèdè carving, Kifouli Dossou followed in his family’s footsteps to create something meaningful.
However, it was Kifouli’s late elder brother, Amidou Dossou, who made a significant advance in the art of Guèlèdè mask carving. Using materials handed down from their father, Amidou created several variations of Guèlèdè, respecting local traditions. Sadly, Amidou left this world, leaving behind a precious artistic legacy.
Kifouli Dossou began carving Guèlèdè masks at a very early age, but it wasn’t until he was eighteen that he made it his profession. While paying tribute to the representations created by his elder brother, Kifouli Dossou has brought his own modern touch to the art of the Guèlèdè mask. Today, his sculptures depict scenes from social life, reflecting the past, present and future. Each of Kifouli Dossou’s masks carries with it a life lesson deeply rooted in its environment and the world around it.
Kifouli Dossou‘s expertise doesn’t stop there. He has passed on his art to his two nephews, Soumaïla and Wabi, as well as to his own eldest son. It’s a family tradition that continues.
What really sets Kifouli Dossou‘s creations apart, however, is his total concentration when he sets to work. Each sculpture is crafted with meticulous precision and obvious passion. Every detail is carefully considered, allowing the essence of his art to come to life.
Currently, Kifouli Dossou is passionately exhibiting his work in Ouidah, a town that holds a special place in his heart. It’s thanks to Marie-Sophie, a gallery owner who admires his art, that this exhibition has come to life in the magnificent setting of ATLANTIC Artspace, Ouidah. Deeply captivated by the town, Kifouli Dossou has studied every nook and cranny, drawing inspiration from the grace and benevolence of its inhabitants. Through his creations, he invites you to discover the majestic basilica that rises majestically opposite the Temple des Pitons, offering a striking spectacle.
Within this exhibition, two outstanding works stand out and captivate visitors. The first presents “a dialogue between the church and the Piton temple“. This work evokes with great finesse the love and harmony that reign supreme in this bewitching city. Individuals and Vodouns merge in a powerful depiction of peaceful coexistence between different beliefs and traditions, creating a unique social fabric.
The second work, imbued with profound meaning, highlights the Kpassè Market. Through this creation, Kifouli Dossou wishes to make visitors aware of the vital importance of mutual assistance between sellers, buyers and even thieves present in this bustling market. He underlines with conviction that the prosperity of all depends on the balance and cooperation between these three groups. Sellers are encouraged not to exaggerate prices, while buyers are urged to show respect and fair play when negotiating. As for thieves, Kifouli urges them to recognize that honest work is a sustainable source of income, far more rewarding than ephemeral gains obtained by illegitimate means.
In addition to his sculptures of Guèlèdè masks, Kifouli Dossou also explores EPA masks, an artistic tradition originating in Nigeria. While respecting the traditional stories and teachings of EPA, Kifouli brings his own innovative touch, using unique materials and working with blacksmiths to fashion elaborate forms.
In this unique exhibition at ATLANTIC Artspace, Ouidah, Kifouli Dossou offers us a true artistic masterpiece that transcends borders and prejudices. Through his creations, he brilliantly transports us on a captivating journey, where diversity, tolerance and solidarity are harmoniously intertwined. Each piece inspires admiration and reflection, offering visitors an unforgettable and deeply enriching experience.