Could you tell us something about your life, about what you’ve done so far?
I’m a professional artist, I was born in 1964 in Lomé. In my childhood, I got many prices in primary school so I had the idea to become a painter. Later, I received another price in a competition which was organized by the local radio in Lomé. After my studies, I spent four and a half years in the atelier of an artist from Togo called Dabla.
In 1992, we founded a group of three painters and named it UAL: Union des Artistes Libres (Union of free artists). Our first exposition took place in the French cultural center in Lomé, the second one in the art gallery Marina in Lomé.
In 1992 and 1994, some of my paintings where shown within the international inauguration of the Louis Cornu museum in France even though I haven’t been there personally. I have completed training courses organized by the Goethe Institute which is the cultural center of Germany in Lomé and another one which was organized by the French counterpart. A third one was held by a Dutch artist. I also had several expositions in Germany in Thuringia.
What are your paintings about? Do they tell a story or show a landscape, for example?
My paintings show human life, love and cultural life: the festival of panafrican cinema, photography, dance, Dutch clothes made out of wax. The history is about the birth of African art passing by dance, music and traditional songs and all that stuff. Concerning the landscapes, I don’t do a lot in this area but I’ve done three landscapes showing old buildings.
Who or what is your source of inspiration? Who are your favourite painters?
I’m always doing my own research trying to find an interesting subject before starting to work on the fabric. There are two types of „inhaling“ new ideas which I prefer: representational and non-representational abstraction. I am inspired by the cultural expression in Africa, the human life of people. My favourite painter in France is Toulouse Lautreque and in Germany Hans Hartung.
Why have you decided to leave Togo and go to Germany?
The dictatorship in Togo is too powerful. Since October 1990, democracy slightly touched our country and as a consequence, controversy and conflicts came up and destroyed it. All sectors have been slowed down: sociopolitics, economy and culture. The country was paralyzed, so I decided to leave it.
Why did you decide to keep on and stay in this difficult field of art?
Actually, the field of painting and art isn’t that difficult as it seems to be. The artists just don’t know how to spread and make other people know about their work. And in addition, it’s the fault of the gallerists who don’t know how to search and contact the collectors. Exposing also means contacting the public. In Africa, the diplomatic institutions, heads of companies, the government and traders are invited to join the vernissages and it is a big party. The gallerist has to launch its first client which is the artist. But the opposite is the case, the gallery causes a lot of problems to the artist.
Which difficulties did you encounter?
The African art has its place in several European countries, Netherlands, Belgium, England… but there are always people who aren’t open-minded and don’t want to get to know the African painting. There is a big problem caused by the division of Germany during the period of the Berlin Wall. In the region of Thuringia, you still feel this mindset of the Berlin Wall, even the union of artists is very negative minded. To my understanding, mindset of the Berlin Wall means that nothing has changed since then: the discrimination emerges from the authorities. The system is created to exclude African people. So the Africans left. They went to the big cities with inhabitants who aren’t that closed-minded. I have always been in the background because they don’t want to get closer to black people. It’s very different to the western part of Germany where people are much more open.