Benin republic-born artist, Romuald Hazoumè opened a new exhibition in a body of work titled Cargoland at October Gallery, U.K. on June 28, ending August 11, 2012.
Bringing together two large-scale installations, masks and photographs, Cargoland is Hazoumè’s highly anticipated third exhibition at gallery, will featuring works that have never been seen in Britain.
Hazoumè’s works are humorous and wryly political. His assemblages and photos are specifically tied to his vision of society and global problems. His practice often engages deeply with local and international history to deliver incisive, sharp social commentary. The signature in all of his slightly irreverent, tongue-in-cheek and highly satirical work is his appropriation of the commonly found plastic petrol can, ubiquitous in his home country, Benin, both for fuelling mechanised change and causing fatal explosions when over-filled. Cargoland places a spotlight on the illegal trade of petrol between Nigeria and Benin and pays homage to the disabled men, often beggars, who are driven to engage in this illegal and extremely dangerous activity for lack of a better alternative.
One of Hazoume’s works for Cargoland at October Gallery, U.K.
Hazoumè is a multi-faceted artist: a painter, sculptor, photographer and filmmaker, his powerful creations mark him as one of the most innovative and exciting personalities to emerge from Africa. Hazoumè’s work first came to prominence in the U.K. with the inclusion of his “masks” in the Saatchi Gallery’s ‘Out of Africa’ show, in 1992. In the past twenty years his work has been widely shown throughout Europe, the United States and Asia, including the British Museum, the Guggenheim, Bilbao, the Museum of Arts and Design, New York and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. His works are in prominent public and private collections around the world, including the permanent collections of the British Museum, London; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane and Neue Galerie, Kassel.
In 2007, Hazoumè was awarded the Arnold-Bode-Prize at documenta 12.
Hazoumè was born in 1962 in Porto Novo, in the Republic of Benin. His work first came to prominence in the U.K. with the inclusion of his witty, tongue-in-cheek “masks” in the Saatchi Gallery’s Out of Africa show, in 1992. Since then his work has been widely shown in many of the major galleries and museums in Europe and beyond, including the British Museum, the Guggenheim, Bilbao, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, ICP, New York, the Victoria &Albert Museum, London.
Winner in 2007, of the Arnold Bodé Prize (documenta 12, Kassel, Germany),the stellar trajectory of Hazoumé’s rise during these past fifteen years has catapulted him into the first rank of the international artistic community, marking him out as unique amongst other African contemporary artists.
His powerful exhibition Made in Porto-Novo, London, 2009, generated press interest from the BBC and The Financial Times. Prolific in a wide range of media, Hazoumè creates photographs, masks, canvases and installations.
In his photographs, slavery is the recurrent theme. Not the historical slavery of the dominant western power in search of cheap labour, but more modern equivalents. Hazoumè focuses upon the Beninese men forced to ferry contraband petrol between Nigerian sources and their Beninese consumers.
Estimates suggest that 90% of all fuel used in Benin passes through these black-market channels known locally as Kpayo. His photographic series exposes an undercover system of gross exploitation. Whether confronting the legacy of the slave trade or creating witty portraits, his work documents the diversity of African life today.
His work was exhibited at the Queensland Art Gallery, Australia and the Gerisch Foundation, Germany, in 2010 and his new solo exhibition which opened February 2011 continues until May at IMMA, Ireland. Two new, major catalogues were produced for the latter exhibitions.