Jean-Michel Champault, General Director of AAD, was in Benin October 10 to 17, 2012 to meet visual artists.
He had the opportunity to tour artists’ studios in Cotonou and meet the most famous, those whose works are exhibited worldwide, including Romuald Hazoumé, Tchiff, Zinkpè, Charly D’Almeida, and Edwige Akplogan.
The new generation has also attracted his attention, including Aston, whose studio, stuck in a corridor between two shops is packed with sculptures made from salvaged everyday objects: toothbrushes, batteries, cooking utensils … Some of his most elaborate pieces represent popular events in public places, such as a stadium hosting a soccer match.
As for Mevo Guezo Romuald, he shapes his characters and animals from recycled plastic bags. His creations, some of which are built on a human scale, decorate the family plot that serves as a studio.
Another sculptor, Glèlè Eulogius, works with clay at his home where he has installed an oven, and paints characters from everyday life and voodoo mythology.
Finally, Marius Dansou carves masks from driftwood and metal recovered in a garage.
Jean-Michel Champault also visited Marie Cécile Zinsou, director of the Zinsou foundation, whose purpose is to educate the general public, especially youth, around issues of contemporary African art through guided tours of exhibition halls and workshops organized in partnership with schools. The current exhibition “Manifesto” presents contemporary works by major artists of the continent. In addition to its artistic and cultural activities, the Zinsou Foundation also developed a policy of publishing art books, available to the public of Benin, as well as a project to build mini-libraries for young people in disadvantaged areas of Cotonou.