Opening: Thursday 17 September
from 6 to 9 pm
“We need a place on earth, in America, in England, in France, in Spain, in Portugal or Africa where we can meet history, set up memory, and where we can talk to the spirits of slaves and pray for them, because there are three ways to die: lost memory, false memory, and real death. We need such a place; we need such a gate of return…” Julien Sinzogan*
Julien Sinzogan (b. 1957 in Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin) lives and works in Paris for over 30 years. After studying architecture in Uzbekistan and then in Paris, Sinzogan turned to painting professionally in the 90’s. Since then he explores and develops a universe straddling between Western patterns of representation and ancestral West African traditions, rich in human and psychic interests.
Sinzogan has exhibited through Europe, Africa and recently in Sao Paulo, in group and solo shows (see selected exhibitions below) and is part of the acclaimed artists from the trans-cultural avant-garde, that counts among its members the Guinean artist El Anatsui.
Reminding the African Diaspora, the Vaudou (or Vodoun) beliefs, with their gods to whom millions of Africans would have prayed, chained in caravelles from the slave ports of the West African coast, and the « Egungun masquerades » which celebrate the interface between the two words of ancestor’s spirit and their living descendants in this world, the artist lifts the veil on a realm reincarnated by the universal roots of a common humankind. It is about making visible, it is about consciousness, it is about transmition…
For his first solo show in Belgium, H18 gallery is delighted to present a significant body of works, predominantly mixed-media and fine pen-and-ink on paper, with a high poetic and symbolic content activated by a permanent link between those two related worlds, the visible world that we inhabit and the ancestors’s invisible spirit world.
*”Gates of Return”, Uncomfortable Truths, the shadow of slave trading on contemporary art and design, 2007, Victoria ans Albert Museum, London, UK.
2015 Africa Africans, Museu Afro Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
2012 Biennale de l’art africain contemporain de Dakar, Sénégal.
2010 Spirit Worlds, October Gallery, London, UK.
2009 Chemin d’esclaves, Musée d’Angoulême, Angoulême, F.
2008 Journée ébène, Voyages : la porte du retour, Musée de ma peinture de Grenoble, Grenoble, F.
2007 Voyages : Crossing the Lake of Fire, October Gallery, London, UK.
Uncomfortable Truths : the shadow of slave trading on contemporary art and design, Victoria ans Albert Museum,
2003 Assemblée Nationale, Paris, F.
Transavangarde : Zeitgenössische Kunst aus der Welt (Contemporary Art from around the Planet), Kulturbrauerei,
Pferdestall Gallery, Berlin, Germany.
UNESCO, Paris, France
World Bank, Washington, D.C.
Museum of Angoulême, Grenoble, France
Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, California, USA
Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Paris, France
Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
The Presidential Palace, Republic of Benin, Cotonou, Benin
Embassy of the Republic of Benin, Paris, France
Various private collections throughout the US, Europe and Africa.