Born in 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 divinity worshiped by the Dakpogan family. 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. 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, he was commissioned to create a series 100 of these works for Ouidah 92: The First International Festival of Vodun Arts and Cultures. 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 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.
C.A.A.C. The Jean Pigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland Collection Fondation Alliances, Marrakech, Morocco Collection Farida et Henri Seydoux, Paris, France Collection Gervanne et Matthias Leridon, Paris, France