“ We need to let the artwork breathe. We cannot lock it into a given interpretation. I leave it to you, the viewer, to imagine why a specific medium was used, what the narrative is and what impact it achieves.”
Camille Tété Azankpo is a “visual art surgeon.” He cuts, shapes, punctures, stitches. Under his scalpel, layers of wood and metal are given a new purpose. Juxtaposed, superimposed, affixed with huge staples, they take us beyond simple aesthetics and visual effects. For Azankpo, the reassembling of these fractured materials into harmonious artworks symbolizes bridging barriers – visible and invisible – between people to open the way for greater understanding and unity.
Until recently, Azankpo’s primary medium was the enamel basin. Colorful enamel basins, once ubiquitous in West Africa and beyond, were cherished objects that accompanied women throughout their lives. Cast aside and replaced with plasticware, they survive as relics of a bygone era. Azankpo transforms them into enduring artworks.
In a self-described “turning point” in 2020, Azankpo began to incorporate a new medium: the metal box. The metal boxes that he chooses originate from all over the world and once held an assortment of goods – Hello Kitty pens, cassette tapes, baby powder, Angry Bird video games, paint and more. They reflect the far-reaching impact of globalization and mirror our consumption patterns.
A self-taught artist, Camille Tété Azankpo worked with carpenters, welders, metal workers, serigraphers, and with other visual artists to learn their methods and perfect his skills. This approach, combined with intense hard work, has made him the outstanding artist that he is today.
Azankpo has exhibited in Austria, France and Germany, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, the US, and several other countries. His work is on display at the Palais de Lomé, Togo’s first major contemporary art and culture center. One of his artworks is part of the traveling exhibition Lumières d’Afriques.
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