MAGNIN-A

CALIXTE DAKPOGAN



Né en 1958 à Pahaou, République du Bénin.
Vit et travaille Porto-Novo.

Calixte Dakpogan est originaire du quartier de Goukoumé à Porto-Novo, le « Quartier de Ogun », le dieu du fer, adoré par la famille Dakpogan. Son ancêtre, Sagbo Ayato, occupait la position enviée de forgeron à la cour du roi Toffa à Porto-Novo. Les premières créations de Calixte Dakpogan sont inspirées des statues Fon du début du 19ème siècle qui ont été saluées par les grands artistes européens du 20ème siècle comme des figures emblématiques de la modernité. A partir de 1990, il produit principalement des œuvres composées d'éléments métalliques récupérés, soudés, assemblés pour donner forme à des figures anthropomorphiques. Dans les années 2000, il mêle aux matériaux récupérés, des objets usuels colorés et bijoux de pacotille achetés bon marché et importés d'Asie. Par de simples et justes assemblages, les éléments utilisés prennent la forme de têtes et  de corps. Grâce au pertinent mixage des cultures africaines et occidentales, ses créations pleines de talent, d'humour, et d'histoires, témoignent d'une créativité contemporaine et d'une inventivité stupéfiante. «Toutes mes sculptures parlent autant de mon pays le Bénin, ma culture, mon environnement, mes croyances que de ma vision du monde».          

Born 1958, Pahou, Benin.
Lives and works in Porto Novo, Benin.  

Calixte Dakpogan’s Vodun heritage is intrinsic to his work.  Born to a family of blacksmiths, he grew up in the  Goukoumé district of Porto Novo, Benin, a district dedicated to Ogun, the god of iron.  Ogun is the principal deity worshiped by the Dakpogan family, and the tradition of metalworking has been carried from father to son since their ancestor Sabgo Ayato worked as a blacksmith in the royal court of King Toffa.  

The abundance of car wreckages in Porto Novo has provided Calixte Dakpogan with an inexhaustible source of materials. (A symbol of power, the automobile is rightly placed under the protection of god Ogun.)  Together with his brother Théodore, he began to use scavenged car parts to create standing figures, following directly in the tradition of Fon statues made from scrap iron in the early nineteenth century. In 1992 the two brothers were commissioned to create a series 100 of these works for Ouidah 92: The First International Festival of Vodun Arts and Cultures, and their contribution remains on permanent display. Today, after an interval of one and a half centuries, the relationship between Fon sculptures and the work of Calixte Dakpogan transcends purely visual or technical aspects, being intimately related with the creative process.  

Since 1990, Calixte has worked independently, using salvaged metallic and plastic elements to create anthropomorphic figures and masks.  A gas tank becomes a body or headlights become teeth. Two formless segments become a recognizable personage. His creations, full of talent, humour, and stories, are imbued with a contemporary imagination and an astounding inventiveness. The artist has commented: “I love children. They are very important in my work as they talk to me about what they see and make comments that inspire me profoundly. All of my sculptures speak of my country, my culture, my surroundings and my beliefs, as well as of the entirety of my worldview. I work with recovered materials since they are burdened with time and transformed by usage, conferring a degree of vitality upon my sculptures that I would be able to attain if I used new materials.”