The MO.CO. Hôtel des collections presents its new exhibition « Cosmogonies. Zinsou, une collection africaine. ». An exhibition of extraordinary quality, uniting the works of African artists : Léonce Raphaël Agbodjelou, Aston, Ishola Akpo, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Sammy Baloji, Pierre Bodo, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Seyni Awa Camara, Chéri Chérin, Jérémy Demester, Jean Depara, Omar Victor Diop, Kifouli Dossou, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Samuel Fosso, Pauline Guerrier, Romuald Hazoumè, Seydou Keïta, Adama Kouyaté, George Lilanga, Ibrahim Mahama, Esther Mahlangu, Emo de Medeiros, Moké, Zanele Muholi, Rigobert Nimi, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Kwesi Owusu-Ankomah, Gérard Quenum, Sadek Rahim, Lyndi Sales, Chéri Samba, Amadou Sanogo, Malick Sidibé, Aïcha Snoussi, Sanlé Sory, Cyprien Tokoudagba.
Léonce Raphaël Agbodjelou
Léonce Raphaël Agbodjelou learned photography from his father, the famous Beninese artist photographer Joseph Moïse Agbodjelou.
Through portraits of the inhabitants of Porto-Novo, he attempts to capture the perspective of an era between custom and progress. These subjects, photographed outdoors or in the studio, are highlighted by outfits and frills explicit to Beninese practices, establishing a discourse between a pre-pioneer past and a post-pioneer future.
His photographs have been exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London, the Seattle Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Real name Serge Mikpon, Aston was renamed by his friends in recognition of his guitar playing skills.
This self-taught artist uses trash to create models, giving life to what we throw away to better confront the ecological debacle in a liberal and energetic way.
Exhibited in many nations including Benin, France and Brazil, his work is now part of important collections, such as the Musée du Nouveau Monde in La Rochelle.
In 2012, he won first prize at the Biennale Regard Bénin.
Ishola Akpo‘s practice goes beyond simple photography, as he jumps at the opportunity to mix various methods to further demand the uncertainty of what he shows us, between real world and fiction.
Individuality and aggregation are central to his work, which summons history, tradition, and heritage, and honors what is the demand for the undetectable and overlooked.
In 2013, he was awarded the French Institute‘s « Visa pour la création » prize. In 2015, his work entered the collection of the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris.
He has been presented in several significant events around the world, including the Tenerife International Photography Biennial, the Venice O Biennial, the Cabo-Verde International Photography Festival, the Afreaka Festival in Brazil and the Nuit blanche de Port-au-Prince at the French Institute of Haiti.
Joël Andrianomearisoa trained as an architect at the École Spéciale d’Architecture de Paris. Sensitive to all materials, he works much more with materials such as wood and paper.
His works usually feature conditions equipped to bring the guest into specific delicate spaces, which is supported by the often exceptionally idyllic titles the artist decides for his pieces.
Joël Andrianomearisoa made the first Malagasy pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, with his installation « I Have Forgotten the Night ».
In 2017-2018, the Fondation Zinsou dedicated to him the exhibition « Sur un horizon infini se joue le théâtre de nos affections » .
Sammy Baloji is a sculptor, photographer and creates installations.
He works with materials such as copper, linked to the economy of Lubumbashi, his hometown. His work is essentially expressed around the historical backdrop of his nation, and more specifically that of the Katanga region, image of the modern strength of the former Belgian Congo.
He attempts to resurrect the links between abuse, colonization and cross-border exchanges to highlight the traces that are not yet apparent.
Sammy Baloji has had monographic exhibitions at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris, the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, and the Museum for African Art in New York. He has exhibited at documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens, as well as at the 11th Shanghai Biennale.
A self-taught painter who died in 2015 in Kinshasa, Pierre Bodo took part in the « Art Partout » exhibition in 1970, which introduced the entire population to Zairean figurative painting, a metaphorical art driven by daily life, politics and encounters, of which he is one of the leading figures along with Moké and Chéri Samba.
In a surrealist universe, he arranges hybrid creatures mixing nature and human figures.
Bodo‘s work has been widely exhibited, joining Jean Pigozzi‘s collection in 1990. He has been exhibited at the Pinacoteca Giovannie and Marella Agnelli in Turin, the Tate Modern in London, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Brussels, Montreal, as well as in Charleroi, Lille, Monaco, and at the Fondation Cartier, as part of the exhibition Beauté Congo, 1926-2015: Congo Kitoko in 2015.
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
Died in 2014 in Abidjan, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré would have jumped at the chance to file the world. His work is that of an encyclopedist: ordering, naming to send the world into a given state.
To do this, following a dream he had in 1948, he concocted a syllabary to decipher the Bete language, powered by mathematical figures found on the stones of a village in his country, Côte d’Ivoire. Using this composition, he translated tales, writings and sonnets from his tradition.
His work was presented in an unprecedented way in Europe in 1989 with the exhibition « Les Magiciens de la terre ».
In 2006, the MAMCO in Geneva dedicated an exhibition to him entitled « Informations sur le monde ». His works are present in important private collections such as Jean Pigozzi, André Magnin and François Pinault.
The Fondation Zinsou devoted a room to him on the occasion of the inauguration of its museum in Ouidah.
Seyni Awa Camara
Seyni Awa Camara‘s art is important to the Senegalese tradition of pottery, passed down from mother to daughter. Rather than utilitarian items, the artist moves toward complex structures of distorted or duplicated human representations, creating a phenomenal pantheon in terracotta of his own.
This transgression follows an initiation of the genies of the forest. She was dismissed by her better half after a few difficult pregnancies. Her sculptures are made following a dream.
Her works have been exhibited in many modern art museums in the West, at the Centre Pompidou in 1989 and at the Venice Biennale in 2001.
In Congo-Kinshasa, a particularly powerful creative scene was forged, in a foam that crossed all orders during the 1970s: music, design, photography and painting.
Alongside Chéri Samba and Moké,Chéri Chérin – « Créateur Hors (série) Expressionniste Remarquable INégalable (C.H.E.R.IN.) unique dans son genre » – tackles this well-known pattern of painting that tells stories while censoring the frame with incongruity and luminous gaiety.
Chéri Chérin‘s works are exhibited in numerous museums and art venues around the world, and were prominently featured in the exhibition « Beauté Congo », 1926-2015: Congo Kitoko at the Fondation Cartier in Paris in 2015 – 2016.
Jérémy Demester has faith in the presence of connections and similarities between the beliefs of various groups.
In 2015, he ventured to Ouidah and immersed himself in the world of Vodoun. A series of works were created with, among other materials, umbrellas that they diverted from their primary function to transcend them.
Jeremy Demester has set up a studio in Benin, and the links he has forged with the Foundation and Benin in general have continued, and have also led to an exhibition entitled OUIDAH at the Max Hetzler Gallery in Berlin in 2020 and « Gros Câlins » in 2021 at the Ouidah Museum.
Jean Depara, who died in 1997 in Kinshasa, was the chronicler of Zairean nights. Between 1951 and 1975, he investigated the scum brought into the world of Independence, fed by the symbolism of American culture, duplicating night parties and examining through photographs between arranged scenes and performances.
Jean Depara‘s work was considered late by the public. It is from the year 2000 that his photos will be introduced in various institutions in the framework of collective exhibitions.
In 2004, he was the subject of an important post-mortem « E la Nave Va, Jours tranquilles à Kinshasa » at the MAMCO in Geneva.
Omar Victor Diop
Omar Victor Diop initially studied communication, with an interest in fashion and design. His participation in the Bamako Biennial in 2011 undoubtedly oriented him towards photography. In the tradition of Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta, he claims to be part of the tradition of the incomparable African portraitists.
In recent years, the work of Omar Victor Diop has been the subject of various global exhibitions on African, European and American soil. He signs the visual identity of the Africa2020 Season and shows an Africa on the cutting edge, idealistic and nourished by its experiences.
Kifouli Dossou has been sculpting Guèlèdé masks since the age of ten. These sculptures are worn during ceremonies in the Yoruba communities.
These Guèlèdé masks have two parts: a face with simple features and scarifications on the cheeks, and a rather complex scene on a plate above.
Winner of the Orisha Prize in 2014, he participated that same year in the Dakar Biennale. He has exhibited at the French Institute in Cotonou and São Paulo, in Paris and in Brussels.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode, who died in 1989 in London, was born in Nigeria. He followed his parents, who became political refugees in Great Britain in 1966. After his studies in the United States, he returned to London in 1982, rejected by his family when he revealed his homosexuality.
A founding member of Autograph ABP (Association of Black Photographers), he continued his work as a photographer with his partner Axel Hirst.
His work uses baroque lighting to depict the dark, naked male body in scenes that draw on his own Yoruba tradition as well as Christian iconography.
Despite his short career, his work was exhibited in the 1990s in London and later in the United States and Europe.
In 1990 and 1991, he had two retrospectives at the 198 Gallery and the Black Art Gallery in London. It was not until 2008, almost twenty years after his death, that his work was exhibited on the African continent.
Samuel Fosso was born in Cameroon with a paralysis that caused his mother to send him to Nigeria to his grandfather, a healer. Healed, he escaped the battle of Biafra in 1967 with his uncle, then moved to Bangui in the Central African Republic where he opened his first photo studio at thirteen. He participated in the Bamako Photographic Biennial in 1994, which opened up avenues for him in contemporary art. In 2014, he moved to Paris.
His self-portraits are present in the collections of several museums around the world such as the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris.
He has participated in various exhibitions on the African, European and American continents. He was exhibited in 2008 at the Rencontres d’Arles. In 2014, the Fondation Zinsou dedicated an exhibition to him.
Pauline Guerrier likes to explore different avenues in terms of materials, to feed herself with proven, often outdated and local techniques. She then sifts through these methods and materials to play them on new scores of her own, repeating them in new settings.
A 2014 alumna of the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, her work has since been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Paris and Brussels. After his residency at the Museum of Ouidah in 2018, the Fondation Zinsou will devote an independent exhibition to him in 2019.
Romuald Hazoumè conveys a strong commitment in his installations, sculptures, and photographs that occasionally reclaim components of Yoruba culture with salvaged materials, and condemn enslavement and persecution.
A universally perceived artist, Romuald Hazoumè has had major exhibitions in Europe, Africa, Russia, Australia and the United States.
In 2006, the Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum devoted a personal exhibition to him, « La Bouche du roi ».
Seydou Keïta, who died in 2001 in Paris, is considered one of the greatest photographers of the African continent. He contributed to the development of a Malian school of photography, notably with Malick Sidibé.
Self-taught, he opened his first photography studio in Bamako in 1948. He became the official image taker for the Malian administration in 1962 at the time of independence, and this until 1977, when he retired.
Discovered in the West in the 1990s, Seydou Keita‘s work is currently exhibited in numerous institutions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and MoMA in New York, the Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery in London, as well as the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain and the Grand Palais in Paris.
Born in 1928 and died in 2020 in Segou, Mali, Adama Kouyate began his apprenticeship in 1947 in Bamako with the pioneers of photography Bakary Doumbia and Pierre Garnier.
In 1949, he set up his first studio in Kati, near Bamako. He fundamentally focuses his work on studio photography. The accent is put on the treatment of shadows and lights. The photos made with the complicity of the subjects keep a kind of validity and ease in the choice of the positions and the extras.
After the publication in 2010 of the book Adama Kouyaté : Studios d’Afrique, the Jean Brolly gallery organized in 2011, in France, the first solo exhibition of the photographer. In 2020, the Fifty One Gallery in Antwerp will pay tribute to him with the exhibition Studios d’Afrique.
Born in 1934 and died in 2005 in Dar es Salaam, George Lilanga was considered the disseminator of a contemporary Makonde culture. Enchanted reasoning, predecessors, genies, and natural powers are important to the Makonde. It is all but a solid social analysis, and a keen sense of exaggeration, that George Lilanga brings to life in a vivid universe populated by expressive characters.
In 1973, together with various specialists, he founded the Nyumba ya Sanaa House of Arts in Tanzania, a school of painting and sculpture.
He has brought this traditional culture to the contemporary world, exhibiting in the United States since 1978, and then in Africa, Asia and Europe.
His work has been exhibited in biennials, for example in Dakar in 1996, Johannesburg in 1997 and Shanghai in 2001.
In 2016, the Fondation Zinsou dedicated an independent exhibition to him that featured works from the collection.
Ibrahim Mahama assembles materials to discover their stylistic characteristics, but also to convey a social and political message. He creates large, sometimes synergistic installations that use common objects rethought, arranged or disconnected, to more easily highlight their materiality, origin or role in a society represented by abusive exploitation rules.
In 2019, Ibrahim Mahama is establishing an art center in his hometown. The Savannah Center for Contemporary Art is proposed to contribute to the development of the art scene in Ghana. That same year, for Ghana‘s first participation in the Venice Biennale, he is chosen to represent his country.
Esther Mahlangu is a famous South African painter. She has taken the Ndebele culture beyond its usual structure. The Ndebele settled comfortably in the future region of Pretoria in 1600. A culture was created in which the ladies were responsible for painting the walls of the houses with vivid geometric examples, offering information to the family alliance and denoting the entry into adulthood of the clan’s childhood.
Esther Mahlangu was invited by Jean-Hubert Martin for the exhibition « Les Magiciens de la terre » to reproduce these paintings in the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris.
The work of Esther Mahlangu has been presented in various exhibitions in Europe, South Africa, the United States and Russia.
Emo de Medeiros
Emo de Medeiros‘ work is based on her ideas of context and crossbreeding. Contexture requires the weaving of all types of language. Métissage, with an emphasis on the link to the Greek métis (an archetype of knowledge typified by Ulysses, who agrees to adapt to all circumstances), describes her works, both performative and plastic.
His work has been presented in France at the Centre Pompidou and the Palais de Tokyo, at the MARKK Hamburg in Germany, at the Videobrasil Contemporary Art Festival São Paulo in Brazil, at LagosPhoto in Nigeria, in the United Kingdom, in Asia, as well as at the biennials of Marrakech, Dakar, Gwangju and Casablanca.
Moké, who died in 2001 in Kinshasa, was a key figure of the Kinshasa school. He presented himself as a journalist painter. Shortly after the independence of the Belgian Congo in the 1960s, an art scene was created, with Chéri Samba and Chéri Chérin.
The works of art displayed in the streets, in front of the workshops, the hustle and bustle of daily life, music, photography and sappers would describe the climate of the capital. It was not until the 2000s that Moké’s work was shown mainly in Europe, but also in Australia, South Korea, Morocco and the United States.
In 2002, the MAMCO in Geneva devoted an important exhibition to Monsenguro Kejwam, known as Painter Moké, Grand Master of Zairean painting (1950-2001).
A self-described « visual activist », Zanele Muholi is an artist and activist for the rights and freedoms of South Africa’s black LGBTQI+ communities; her artistic process is intrinsically linked to her commitment.
Forcing a kind of immediacy, Muholi‘s photographs and self-portraits challenge the viewer and affirm a character in the fullness of her complex particularity.
Muholi‘s work has been shown at the São Paulo Biennial in 2010, Documenta 13 in Kassel in 2012, and the Venice Biennale in 2013 and 2019.
She received a retrospective at the Tate Modern in London in 2021 and is in important public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA in New York, San Francisco Museum of Art, Tate Modern in London and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Nicknamed « the engineer », Rigobert Nimi puts his expertise in applied mechanics at the service of the innovation of ambient stations and robotic objects.
Since 2000, he has been creating a world of lively and striking models. Captivated by space and extraordinarily fond of science fiction films, he designs with meticulousness and precision these machines produced from reused elements such as capsules, PVC pipes, cardboard or aluminum.
Since 2005, his works have been regularly exhibited, mainly in Europe and the United States. That year, he was presented at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston during African Art Now, a group exhibition devoted to a selection from the collection of Jean Pigozzi, as well as in Monaco for the Arts of Africa exhibition, on a similar theme.
In 2015 he participated in the Lyon Biennale and in 2017 he was featured at the Fondation Louis Vuitton for the exhibition Art/Africa.
J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere
Born in 1930 and died in 2014 in Lagos, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere investigates Nigerian culture through a series of highly contrasting photographs. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere‘s images are situated in a period of postcolonial cultural progress and investigate the mental self-portrait and social character of these images. Like an ethnologist, he develops bodies of photographs that reflect the particularity of a culture and an audience.
J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere‘s work can be found in the collections of important institutions such as MoMA in New York, the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris.
Owusu-Ankomah‘s work blends cultures and traditions into an image of concordance. His canvases feature bare, almost undetectable male figures covered with indications of different beginnings.
He places the person at the center of deep reflections and another world. Between 2004 and 2008, he embarked on a kind of contemplation, determined to find a definitive image which he named « Microcron ».
Kwesi Owusu-Ankomah is frequently exhibited in Germany, where he has lived and worked since 1986, as well as in Great Britain, the United States, Europe, South Africa, South America and Asia.
Gérard Quenum is a painter and sculptor. He paints his characters with huge strokes without constraint, in a restricted chromatic range. Some of his works are the declaration of a kind of indignation or condemnation.
Steeped in the historical backdrop of Benin and more broadly of the African continent, the artist frequently communicates the excesses of consumerism, exploitation and abuse of all kinds and sometimes misery and despair.
In 2000, Gérard Quenum participated in the first Beninese Contemporary Art Show in Cotonou. He has had various exhibitions in Europe, Africa and Brazil. His works are present in various collections such as the British Museum in London, the Museu Afro-Brasil in São Paulo and the Pigozzi Collection in Geneva.
Sadek Rahim investigates the real social and political factors of Algeria. Particularly attentive to the final fate of his nation’s youth and the link between East and West, he deals with subjects such as exclusion, perplexity and estrangement.
To do so, he uses objects, structures and materials explicitly from Algerian culture and local life.
An incredibly celebrated artist, he exhibits in Europe, Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Korea and the United States.
In 2013, he launched Algeria’s first Contemporary Drawing Salon in Oran. He is also co-founder and general curator of the Mediterranean Biennial of Contemporary Art in Oran.
Lyndi Sales works with collage, embroidery, weaving, drawing, to develop works that deal with its tensions, intimate or shared. She addresses the theme of the impression of the world and it is through similarity and symbolism that she finds how to interpret her own interests.
In 2011, she represented South Africa at the 54th Venice Biennale. For the past fifteen years, she has been exhibited in Europe, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Asia.
Her work is included in a number of collections, for example, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the McGill University in Montreal or the Jack Ginsberg collection of artists’ books in South Africa.
Chéri Samba began his vocation by painting advertisements, before joining a movement in Kinshasa that brought together Moké and Chéri Chérin around a painting that reflected the scum of daily life, mixing the big and small occasions.
His artworks are always accompanied by writings, captions or remarks. He is interested in many subjects that go beyond the strict representation of an occasion, receiving, for example, an elementary way to approach the historical context of Western art simply.
Chéri Samba is a world-renowned artist and is present in the collections of museums such as MoMA in New York, the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Amadou Sanogo creates a language in his paintings that is both rich and refined – figures seated, reclining, gathered, on foundations that are sometimes energized by what might appear to be, from any point of view, draperies with rehashed themes.
This composition, where structure and content merge, has an ageless persona from which derives a kind of distance from history, as if to catch bits of wisdom.
The work of Amadou Sanogo is the subject of various exhibitions in Mali and Europe. In 2014, he created the Atelier Badialan, a space for work and exchange between thirteen artists from Mali. In 2020, La Criée Centre d’art contemporain de Rennes dedicated an exhibition to him.
Born in 1936 in Soloba and died in 2016 in Bamako, Mali, Malick Sidibé opened his studio in Bamako in 1962. Chronicling the existence of Malian parties, he jumped at the opportunity to organize his clients, who played the round of a photo presented without looking like it.
Sidibé‘s skill and virtuosity lie in this experiment between suddenness and organization, which seems to unfold a whole history of joyful living, both cozy and festive.
Malick Sidibé has firmly contributed to the affirmation of a « Bamako school ». A world-renowned artist, Malick Sidibé‘s works have been the subject of numerous group and solo exhibitions. In 2007, he was awarded the Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
Aïcha Snoussi‘s work questions ideas about identity and the legitimacy of norms and orders through drawings and establishments that mix fictions and archives.
By blurring the lines of reality to reveal the remnants or clues of a set of experiences she has rehashed, the artist nurtures an individual folklore that alludes to scenes from our contemporary history (sexual identity and movement) while gathering a host of personal references.
Winner of the SAM prize for contemporary art in 2020, which will offer her an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, she has completed several residencies at the Fondation Zinsou.
Sanlé Sory discovered photography when he needed a photo for his identity card in 1957. He was introduced to photography by a Ghanaian guide, Koja Adamko, before setting up his studio, Volta Photo, in southern Burkina Faso.
In the manner of Malick Sidibé, he then followed the fervor of this post-independence time of freedom, playing with the postures of his clients, photographing them with props and backgrounds in case they wanted to.
Sanlé Sory‘s work is exhibited in Europe, Africa and the United States and is in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, MoMA in New York, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the North Carolina Museum of Art, among others.
Born in 1939 in Abomey and died in 2012 in Benin, Cyprien Tokoudagba paints and shapes all the experiences and beliefs of his country.
Initiated into Vodoun, he is called to embellish the shrines. In 1987, he became the restorer of the Museum of Dahomey. Tokoudagba had the option of making a unique symbolism of the deities and figures of the Vodoun Pantheon by moving this rigorous work into the exhibition spaces.
The figures and images he approaches allow his work to be assured of the transmission of a set of experiences, of a culture, between the real world and the myth.
In 1989, he participated in the exhibition « Les Magiciens de la terre ». In 2006, the Fondation Zinsou devoted an important exhibition to him, « Dahomey, Rois et Dieux », for which he created 64 works, 10 sculptures and a shrine.