Rafiy exhibition / 03.02.2011 - 26.02.2011
Rafiy is a young Beninese artist living in Paris. Yourba, Muslim, raised in a Christian family, he was educated alongside an array of artists in Nigeria, Togo and Senegal. Rafiy draws his creative force from his eclecticism, and the characteristic patchwork of Africa.
He explores many different materials-- painting on the body, canvas and glass. He travels a lot and he paints what he sees; and what he sees, he filters in a highly sensitive way, conscious of our contemporary reality.
Rafiy's eye doesn't judge; he wants to be an intermediary, just like town criers in the old days who would transmit messages to the country people. He doesn't use his brush to teach; instead, he simply tries to raise the veil, or at least pierce a hole in the wall of indifference. It's up to us to look through it, to break it-- or not. Rafiy is also the initiator and head of the movement "Elowa" (Elo-wa signifies a return to peace in yoruba). The objective of this movement is to gather young artists and help them meet each other. The first initiative of the project was to cross 5 countries (from Benin to Senegal) to join the Biennial of Contemporary Arts in Dakar, Dak'Art 2008, while organizing exhibition, workshops and artist meetings on the way.
He then organized WABA, an Open House for art studios in Porto Novo and Cotonou: during 5 days, June 5 to June 9, 2010, fifty artists opened their studio doors for their 50th anniversary of Independence. It was another way to make artists visible, to bring a wide audience to contemporary art, and to create opportunities and meetings-- all small steps towards the creation of an art market in the country.
The canvas is a space where he projects both his real life experience and his fantasy world. Sometimes, he captures the essence of moments where he feels at one with his surroundings, himself, and the world; other times, he offers a glimpse into a harmony that he wants to prolong, a harmony that he finds in certain situations or objects. There are moments when an uneasiness comes across him, an inner tremor, and he throws himself into the canvas and the work, becoming a sort of translator for the art, which has taken on an identity all of its own.
The colors are raw, revealing what the artists is offering: a fantastical world of suffering creatures. Sometimes only faces in a blank stare hover in the cities; this acts as a reminder of the danger of listening only to reason, the rational mind, and forgetting the language of the body, the voice of the heart.
Text by Fabiola BADOI