“ 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 how breaking down barriers – visible and invisible – between people opens the way for greater understanding and unity.
Until recently, Azankpo’s main 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 perennial artworks. In a self-described “turning point” this year, Azankpo began to incorporate a new medium: the metal box/metal canister. These boxes and canisters, originating from all over the world, once contained an assortment of goods – Hello Kitty pens, cassette tapes, baby powder, Angry Bird video games, and more. They reflect the far-reaching impact of globalization and mirror our global 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 and several other countries. One of his pieces is touring the world with Lumières d’Afriques, a traveling exhibition. His work is exhibited at the Palais de Lomé, Togo’s first major art and culture center, which was inaugurated in February.