Born 1942, Cotonou, Benin
Lives and works in Cotonou, Benin
“I walk, I think, I see, I pass, I come back, I pick up the objects that attract me, I go home, I read things, I make notes, I learn.” Thus Georges Adéagbo has described his working process. Each of his installations is made up of elements brought back from walks first begun in African and completed with fragments gleaned from walks in the cities where he exhibits.
The eldest and favourite son, Adéagbo grew up in Contonou, Benin. He studied law in Abidjan and in France, where he planned to settle and marry. When his father died in 1971, he returned to Benin at the request of his mother to take care of the family. Unwilling to take on this responsibility, he soon was in conflict with his relatives. He remained jobless and suffered from profound loneliness and alienation. To escape from this “prison,” Adéagbo left the family plot of land every day and went to the lagoon where he gathered whatever variety of objects and materials he encountered during his walk.
Adéagbo collected anything that had been discarded or lost and that appealed to him: little sculptures, clothing, bits of cloth, shoes, records, books, toys, newspaper clippings, written notes, stones, packs of cigarettes, pieces of plastic. These objects were like so many mementos, fragments of knowledge imbued with humanity, replete with personal or collective history that brought to mind the concept of loss, of oblivion, of the erasure of memory. Upon his return from these solitary walks Adéagbo arranged the fragments of this “recovered” history in a precise order on the floor. Adéagbo didn’t appropriate objects for profit or exchange; it was the objects themselves that appealed to him. He saved them from the void, from oblivion, and protected them from death. His first series of accumulations were destroyed as they cluttered up the family home, and Adéagbo’s obscure behaviour further distanced him from his family. It was only in the early 1990s, after a chance meeting with an art critic, that people started to listen to him again and understand him. He was finally able to show his “installations” elsewhere than in the yard of his home: in Europe, then in countries all over the world. This recognition from the art world finally extended to his own family. Yet he has commented: “Artist? That means nothing to me. I didn’t learn things in an art school, I am only a witness of history. . . . I go for walks as befits a philosopher, who does so in order to relate what is happening in nature and in the world.”
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2004 - 2005
Georges Adéagbo: Le Socialisme Africain
Birmingham - Angleterre
2004 – 2005
DC : Georges Adéagbo
Köln - Allemagne
"Georges Adeagbo. The Pytgagorean Age"
Im Taxipalais Gallery.
Museum of Modern Art.
Georges Adeagbo " La mort et la Résurection "
Nathalie Obadia Gallery
SELECTED SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Museum of Fine Art Houston
Houston - USA
Dokumenta 11_Platform 5
Kassel - Germany
2001 – 2002
The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994
Travelling exhibition : Museum Villa Stuck; Haus der Kulturen der Welt; Museum of Contemporary Art; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, 200. Concluded in 2002
"Ein Raum ist eine Welt"
"Disaster of War"
PS1(MOMA) Contemporary Art Center.
"Voilà. Le Monde dans la tête"
Paris City Museum of Modern Art.
5th Lyon Biennal for Contemporary Art.
"Kunst Welten Im Dialogue"
"Veilleurs du Monde"
National Museum for African and Oceanian Art.
" Les Ecole philosophiques "
7 eme Triennale de la petite Sculpture.
"Roteiros. Roteiros. Roteiros. Roteiros..."
24th Sao-Paulo Biennal, Brasil.
2nd Johannesburg Biennal, South Africa.
"Les autres modernités"
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
"African Art Towards the Year 2000 Images of Africa"
The Serpentine Gallery
"La Route de l'Art sur la Route de l'Esclave"
- Institut Claude-Nicolas Ledoux.
Salines Royales d'Arcs et Senans, France.
- Sao Paulo, Brasil.
- Museum of Modern Art.
Santo Domingo,Dominican Republic.
Cultural Center. Sainte-Marie, Martinique.
Bois Sacré, Exhibition catalogue, Wallonie-Bruxelles International, pgs 50-3
African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.
Documenta 11_Platform 5.
Exhibition catalogue. Hatje Cantz Publishers.
Text by Georges Adéagbo “Explorer and explorers facing the history of exploration…! The theatre of the world”
The Short Century – Independence and Liberation
Movements in Africa
Exhibition catalogue. Edited by Okwui Enwezor and published Prestel. Pg 152
Georges Adéagbo, conversation with Muriel Bloch
Bilingual text : French, English.
Edited and published by: au figuré/le Quartier.
Roteiros. Roteiros. Roteiros. Roteiros...
Exhibition catalogue. 24th Sao Paulo Biennal, Brasil.
Georges Adeagbo by Régine Cuzin
Exhibition catalogue. 7ème Triennale de la petite sculpture.
Veilleurs du Monde by Anaïd Demir.
Bilingual text : French-English.
Edited and published by: CQFD/AFAA/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Georges Adeagbo " La mort et la Résurection "
Exhibition catalogue . "Georges Adeagbo, le Petit Poucet fractal " by Sam Cambio
Nathalie Obadia Gallery.
Entretiens avec Georges Adeagbo by Caroline Pouzolles.
Terre des Signes, n4.
Edited and published by l'Harmattan.
Contemporary Art of Africa : " World : Georges Adeagbo "
by Régine Cuzin et Jean-Michel Rousset.
Edited by André Magnin and Jacques Soulillou.
Published by Harry N. Abraams.
Big City. " Georges Adeagbo " by Régine Cuzin
Exhibition catalogue. The Serpentine Gallery. London, Great-Britain.