Be warmly welcome to visit the solo exhibition “The World = Dialogue” with an installation, paintings and drawings of Benjamin Deguenon (Benin). Immerse yourself in Deguenon’s pictoral imaginary world, full of bizarre creatures that seem to have walked away from an ancient African fairy tale book with a touch of Basquiat and Joan Miro.
Place: OpenArtExchange, Schiedam
Duration: 16 April – 10 July 2022
Opening :16 April 4:00 pm with the performance “The World = Dialogue” by Benjamin Deguenon
About Benjamin Deguenon
Benjamin Deguenon (1982) creates sculptures, paintings, drawings and installations in his own unique primitive style, reminiscent of Basquiat and Joan Miró, revealing an associative imagery full of stories. For more information, read his artist page Benjamin Deguenon | Benin – OpenArtExchange
About The World = Dialogue
As such dialogue is revealed in the order and balance of nature, in the harmony of a village, in the specificity of a community, in the solidarity around a project, or as an injustice, as it is revealed in the disorder created by its absence.
The World = Dialogue: An introduction
by Fabiola Badoi, art critic and journalist
Cotonou, February 2022
One of the constants in Benjamin Deguenon’s art is his hybrid work. Hybrid in the choice of materials, hybrid in the techniques used, hybrid in the composition where, in an obsessive leitmotiv, humans, animals and plants meet in environments that constantly put them in relation and make them dialogue.
I could attempt an approach and say that, like the philosopher Martin Buber, the Beninese artist sees dialogue as a means of entering into communication rather than an attempt to seek a conclusion or to express points of view. Dialogue is thinking together. Thinking together means constantly recreating the world.
With this new pictorial work, the artist advances his research by articulating it directly around the concept of dialogue while worrying about the possibility of its absence.
A world without dialogue.
Dialogue, a word of Greek origin: “dia”, that which crosses and “logos”, the word. The word that crosses. “Dialogue is not a discourse: a discourse is the statement of a demonstration, or even of an opinion on any subject. Dialogue is not a conversation: a conversation is a sequence of intersecting and unconnected speeches to produce a common line of reasoning between the participants.
A dialogue is a cross-examination of different words, all of which are binding on their author. A successful dialogue produces a diagnosis integrating all the arguments of the participants and a conclusion in which they all agree.”
A dialogue can be established, it can be initiated, but it can also be refused or broken off.
It can be corrupted.
Dialogue is revealed in the order and balance of nature, in the harmony of a village, in the specificity of a community, in the solidarity around a project, an injustice, as it is revealed in the disorder created by its absence. Broken with nature, it engenders natural disasters, denied in the architectural configuration of a city, gives rise to ghettos, interrupted by a war, refused by indifference, it is corrupted in the voluntary blindness of servitude.
A dialogue requires “a tearing away from oneself to go towards the other”. Without this uprooting, what world would be possible?
The artist’s questioning leads us to reflect on a world made up of enclaves in constant competition where only efficiency is sought, a world of permanent conflicts generated by the inability to see the other, a world of silent silhouettes who pass each other without seeing one another. Who are fearful.
A dialogue can become a dialogue of the deaf: “a conversation which, after a certain time, proves impossible between two or more people because of a mutual refusal to listen to the other’s point of view.
“We are asked to love or hate this or that country and people. But there are a few of us who feel our similarities to all men too well to accept this choice,” says the artist. If he thinks that injustice, servitude and lies are the very stuff of history, he knows that resignation is cowardice and chooses to “fight to preserve the part of man that does not belong to him”.
It is life itself that thunders on his canvases, the colour black acts as a revelator – one can guess his talent as a scenographer in the composition – of chimeras, dreams, superstitions, unrealities that plunge us into the unconscious and reveal our anxieties, our drifts, which sometimes reveal us to ourselves.
It thunders, it rumbles, it is intrepid, it captivates us because it teems with interactions, concerns, space is open, time is liquid, and this continuous flow tirelessly builds a dialogue. Between trees and birds, between humans and beasts, between chimeras and reality. Between inside and outside, conscious and unconscious, which sometimes merge. Emotions arise, relationships are established, nothing is as it should be, there is suffering, blood flows, the sky sometimes seems missing, but as long as the links are there, inextricable, as long as we look at each other and see each other, as long as we talk to each other, the world is really there.
If Benjamin Deguenon recognises and restores the differences, the contradictions or the contrasts, it is to better enjoy the similarities and let them speak.
The world is a dialogue or it is not a world”