Gérard Quenum’s “Dolls Never Die” exhibition on at October Gallery

Sculptor Gérard Quenum returns to the October Gallery with a new solo exhibition titled “Dolls Never Die”.

The exhibition will present a series of new sculptures and an installation composed of recycled objects whose diverse histories contribute much to the overall significance of the pieces themselves.

Gérard Quenum (Benin), Rodeo, 2012. Wood, cloth and plastic doll, 73 x 45 x 27cm. Photo by Catherine Laurent, Courtesy October Gallery, London

Like many of his contemporaries coming out of Africa, Mr. Quenum’s work is composed of an eclectic mix of “objets trouvés” – that elevates the pieces into poignant, mysterious and whimsical ‘portraits’ of individuals observed in his local environment.

These ‘portraits’ serve as a lens through which we view Africa.

The dolls that Mr. Quenum employs as models and part-time actors on his stages are doubly-recycled, in that they have already served as hand-me down props, expressing the imaginative outpourings of generations of European children before having been repackaged and sent off to Africa in overseas aid parcels.

The transformations imposed by that harsher environment – the loss, over time and with constant use of eyes, of limbs and hair – are still incapable of entirely exhausting these puppets of their capacities for speech.
In Mr. Quenum’s artful assemblages the disparate parts come together to assume a narrative gift of tongues.

The sculptor’s magical ability is in knowing how to engage the faculties of the imagination by transporting the viewer into an alternate realm that transcends space and time.

So too, with the types of wooden objects he uses: mortars, ritual drums or pilings that once supported entire houses in the marshy lagoons surrounding Porto-Novo.

They contain whole hidden histories of inherited stories – impregnated in the wood – whose roughened surfaces bespeak the lives of other peoples, other worlds and other experiences.

Mr. Quenum was born in the coastal town of Porto Novo, Benin in 1971. He stands out as one of the most original creators of a distinct sculptural style using urban detritus.

His works can be found in major public collections including the British Museum, National Museums of Scotland and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, California.

In July 2012, Mr. Quenum’s work was exhibited at the National Football Museum in Manchester as part of its inaugural exhibition entitled “Moving Into Space”.

Dates: 20th September – 27th October 2012
Venue: October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL
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