He explains, ‘My masks aren’t the same power objects as those masks formerly used for ceremonial purposes. Instead, they’re portraits of real people I know, of sketches inspired by something, maybe a photograph I’ve recently seen. In Africa today, much attention is paid to the way women dress their hair, and lots of information is transmitted in the coded language of coiffure’ (October Gallery, Romuald Hazoumè, Cargoland, 2012, p. 2).
Hazoumè’s masks explore contemporary African identities, in his re-use of plastic jerry cans which reference the traditional African masks used in ceremonial masquerades. The conventional use of wood in making masks is culturally significant, in the belief that wood is the home of the honoured dead. In his sculptures, Hazoumè’s use of plastic jerry cans re-contextualises the idea of traditional masks to challenge misconceptions about the nature of African identities today.
Romuald Hazoumè’s work is included in the collections of The British Museum, La Fondation Zinsou, Queensland Art Gallery, and The Walther Collection. He has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, the Saatchi Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Menil Collection and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.
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