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Cyprien Tokoudagba was born in Abomey, Benin in 1939. Tokoudagba practiced several activities related to painting and sculpture simultaneously. This Beninese artist is a restorer at the National Museum in Abomey, where he came in contact with the very rich traditions of Benin painting, a country that was one of the most prominent cultural cradles of the African continent, and was chopped up by colonial boundaries.

Cyprien Tokoudagba at his  studioTokoudagba also works on the decorations of numerous Vodun buildings, private or institutional temples, from the most modest (a single wall painting, Vodun divinity, or domestic or regional fetish...) to the most elaborate. These wall paintings are made up of the symbolic figureheads of political and especially religious power, and are often a confusion of both, as well as the geometrical cultural signs on the walls of the place of worship. The sculptures borrow from the traditions of Beninese sculpture, which is often anthropomorphic and very large. Concrete, a modern substitute for traditional materials, is worked on when it is still boxed, then carved before it is completely dry, and finally painted. These statues have the faces of Vodun divinities, of which Legba is the central figure.

Without abandoning the wall paintings that he is commissioned, Cyprien Tokoudagba undertook 1989 some large canvasses in which he combined, taking great liberties, the emblems of the kings of Abomey, symbols of the divinities (Earth, Fire, Water, Air) and various objects related to his culture. The combination of all these faces, objects and signs make his paintings look like a strange rebus.

source: Contemporary African Art Collection





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