ARTicle 14, Débrouilles-toi, toi-même!

Jump Ship Rat presents Romuald Hazoumé
World Museum, William Brown Street (19th May - 3rd September 2006)

Reviewed by Alicia Rose

Having travelled from the sidewalks of a Beninese market in West Africa to the World Museum in Liverpool, Romuald Hazoumé exhibits his Débrouille-toi, toi-même (‘look after yourself, because no-one else will‘). This is a thought-provoking solo exhibition from a man who ‘expects nothing from anyone or anything’.

Hazoumé is forty-four years old and began creating art twenty years ago with the somewhat authentic use of ‘earth and cow’s dung’ onto cotton before moving on to use of acrylics. There is a deep and passionate insight of this artist, which challenges us all to ‘know where we are from’.

Romuald explained that his earliest art ‘followed oracles and signs’ and that from these symbols he would draw what was positive and good, to show that Africa is not all that the western world thinks it is. Hazoumé’s Africa is not poor as such; it is full of survivor people that - due to the lack of materials and money - learn to use their intelligence creatively to remain extant. A fantastic culture and respect for elders is vested in this knowledge.

The panoramas on display depict existence, people, objects and the journeying of life in between. When asked what message is being given Hazoumé animates, ‘you as an individual can look and pick what you want from this; learn, think, only if you want to. I am not a prophet, I have no message’.

It was apparent from his first hometown exhibition that Romuald would bring light of cause to this ever more materialistic world. Saatchi and Saatchi encouraged further recognition and now Hazoumé grows in strength, exhibiting later this year in London, Paris and Tokyo.

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