The exhibition “Benin Art of yesterday and today: From restitution to revelation” continues but this time in Morocco. The Beninese and Moroccan authorities proceeded to the opening of the exhibition on Tuesday 17 January 2023 at the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat.
One hundred works by 34 contemporary artists from Benin are on display in Rabat, Morocco. The aim is to offer visitors from all over the world a pleasant time around these works, each telling a specific story.
The Beninese Minister of Culture and Arts, Jean-Michel Abimbola, in his speech, reaffirmed the willingness of the Beninese government to make this experience an important step in this common approach in favour of the circulation of works and the structuring of an art market on a continental scale. According to the minister, this exhibition, organised by the National Gallery of Benin and the National Foundation of Museums of Morocco, testifies to the common will to reveal Benin, its art and its heritage on the international scene and consolidates the axis of museum and heritage cooperation between Cotonou and Rabat.
After praising the merits of the thirty or so sculptors, painters, installers and designers whose works enrich the journey of every visitor to the Mohammed VI Museum, Jean-Michel Abimbola unveiled the ecosystem that the Executive is working to gradually put in place in Benin, notably through the development of the Cotonou Cultural and Creative District (QCCC). It is a place of concentrated artistic and cultural activity and will also house the Cotonou Museum of Contemporary Art.
Revealing the vitality and intensity of creativity in the visual arts in Benin
Initially conceived in two parts in Benin, the exhibition “Art of Benin Yesterday and Today: From Restitution to Revelation” presented the classical and contemporary art of Benin. This diptych exhibition brought together the 26 Royal Treasures returned by France after 130 years of exile and 106 contemporary works. The contemporary section of this exhibition presented at the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat reflects the commitment of 34 Beninese artists and the ontological questions that animate them and which they echo in their creations, through various media.
Indeed, contemporary artistic creation in Benin and its diaspora presents a diversity of forms. The artists, with multiple backgrounds and profiles, self-taught or art school graduates, express through their works their singular vision of contemporary Benin, nourished by the sap of tradition and a desire to re-explore its legacies and inheritances, in a language of constant renewal.
The selection of artists in each of the three chapters of the exhibition, Recurrence-Variations, Transition(s), Transgression-Hybridation, is based on the themes developed, the materials used and the different media used. It is an immersion in the teeming universes of confirmed and emerging artists of the Beninese contemporary scene. The strong ideas that emerge from their creations touch on the links: those that we weave with others, the transmission of knowledge and emotions, making creators powerful intercessors.
Through this demonstration, the exhibition reflects the vitality and intensity of creativity in the visual arts in Benin. It is an invitation to explore an artistic cartography in permanent movement, without seeking to freeze it or to name it and without any desire to be exhaustive.