AdÃ©agbo's works are grounded in a number of different traditions, from altar design to 'tourist art', from contemporary 'Western' installation to African story-telling. Each project combines paintings, sculptures, books, hand-written texts, photographs, newspaper articles, objects, and other memorabilia into a work that refers to the destinies of individuals and civilizations.
Abraham - L'ami de Dieu.
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presents the first U.S. exhibition of Benin artist Georges AdÃ©agbo. AdÃ©agbo's symphonic, context-specific installations address history, intercultural exchange and contemporary society from an African perspective. In Abraham - L'ami de Dieu ("Abraham - Friend of God"), AdÃ©agbo has designed a site-specific installation that celebrates the essential moments of P.S.1's history. References to this history are combined with stories of democracy and emancipation in America and with other stories from the world-at-large.
AdÃ©agbo's works are grounded in a number of different traditions, from altar design to 'tourist art', from contemporary 'Western' installation to African story-telling. Each project combines paintings, sculptures, books, hand-written texts, photographs, newspaper articles, objects, and other memorabilia into a work that refers to the destinies of individuals and civilizations. These installations are made not only to be seen, but also walked through and read. They illustrate thought processes, mental associations and philosophical and political inquiry. In his installations, objects are laid out on the floor or hung along the walls. While recalling the displays of street vendors and flea markets, his work resists notions of commodification by its deliberate haphazard look.
AdÃ©agbo's work also addresses the most common art historical narrative relating to the birth of Western modernism. According to this narrative, many European artists moved beyond the representational art of the late 19th century by exploring non-Western traditions such as African mask carving, which also provided a basis for exoticism at the height of colonialism. AdÃ©agbo's art explicitly uses a reversed strategy: he collects curiosities, objects and information from the exhibition location (in this case from New York City) and brings them back to Africa. There, they function as source material for sculptures and paintings. A new artwork then emerges out of the artist's projections, fantasies, and misunderstandings.
AdÃ©agbo was born in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa in 1942, where he still lives and works. The eldest of eleven children, he studied law in Paris. Shortly before getting his degree, in 1971, he returned to Cotonou due to the sudden death of his father. Unable to return to France, he began to create artworks in his home and courtyard, without exhibiting them for 23 years.
AdÃ©agbo began exhibiting his installations publicly in 1994 in Besancon, France ("La route de l'art sur la route de l'esclave - The Route of Art on the Route of Slavery.") His work was subsequently included in "Big City" (Serpentine Gallery, London, 1995), "Die Anderen Modernen" (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 1997), The Second Johannesburg Biennial (1997), and the Sao Paolo Biennial in 1998. An outdoor day-long installation at the Arsenale, "The Story of the Lion", was an award winner at the 48th Venice Biennial in 1999. In 2000, he participated in "La Ville, le Jardin, la MÃ©moire" at Villa Medici, Rome and a solo exhibition of his work was held at the Toyota Museum, Japan.
Georges AdÃ©agbo: Abraham - L'ami de Dieu is curated by P.S.1 Senior Curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with Larissa Harris as Project Manager.
november 19, 12-6pm.
P.S.1 - Contemporary Art Center - 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave - Long Island City - NY 11101