Born in 1962 in Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin. Lives and works in Porto-Novo.
Romuald Hazoumé descends from a prestigious lineage: his ancestor was a babalawo, high priest of the fâ from Nigera at the court of the king of Porto Novo. He grew up in a Catholic family of Yoruba origin who remained in contact with the cult of ancestors, such as voodoo, a practice that deeply marked him. After a high school education during which he discovered a passion for drawing, he wanted to study medicine for a while, but he decided to become an artist.
Because of his dual cultural background, Romuald Hazoumè's work, which does not strictly speaking follow the Yoruba tradition, reveals a syncretism based on recycled materials. In the mid-1980s, he created his first sculptures of plastic drums, which subtly reveal his critical vision of African political figures and systems. He became a prominent figure in Cotonou and Porto-Novo, and in 1989 exhibited Masques Bidons I at the French Cultural Center in Cotonou.
Romuald Hazoumè assembles materials, scraps and obsolete objects, which he uses as they are or which he shapes or deforms, to represent his vision of society, events or global problems. The artist reinvents history and his research which translates into monumental and striking works, and testifies to his commitment against all forms of slavery, corruption, trafficking and current abuses. "There were travelling artists called "aré", who were in charge of bringing culture from one kingdom to another. I totally recognize myself in this appellation". Hazoumè considers himself a guardian of his own Yoruba culture, where mask production plays an important role. Attached to the territory, the artist is committed to his fellow Beninese by seeking to raise their consciousness around cultural values. Not without humor, he thwarts the clichés about Africa and criticizes the throes of globalization. Of great poetic and political content, and rich in moral values, his most recent works question migration and its consequences, the inequality of exchanges present in the Western world as well as in Africa. About self-determination, Romuald Hazoumé develops:
"We have everything we need here, on our continent, but we do nothing and we wait for others to come and do it for us! My piece [Antidepressant] shows a Senufo bed on a carpet of cocoa beans behind which there is a screen that projects a video of the sunrise and sunset. In Africa, we have the sun, cocoa, which is one of the best antidepressants in the world, and a bed to solve some of our problems."
Barbier Muller Collection, Geneva, Switzerland
Jean Pigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland Collection Agnès b, Paris, France Desmoines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa The Robert Devereux Collection, London and Nairobi The British Museum, London, UK La Fondation Zinsou, Cotonou, Benin Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia Museumslandschaft Hessen, Neue Galerie, Kassel National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C, USA Emdash Foundation, London, UK The Walther Collection, Deutschland Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, USA Die Mobiliar Collection, Bern, Switzerland Musée des Beaux-Arts Montréal, Canada Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas, USA Fondation LVMH, Paris, France The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA The New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall and Birmingham Museums Trust, Birmingham, UK Collection David Bowie, UK The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, USA Permanent collection of the US Embassy, Cotonou, Benin