Gérard Quenum was born in the coastal town of Porto Novo, the official capital of the Republic of Benin, in 1971. Quenum’s work is composed of recycled objects whose diverse histories contribute much to the overall significance of the pieces themselves. But what gives his art its unique twist is his signature use of discarded dolls added to the mix of objets trouvés – that elevates the pieces into witty and whimsical ‘portraits’ of individuals or types observed in his local environment. These ‘portraits’ serve as a lens through which we see (or imagine we see) Africa itself. It is important to understand the pre-existent story with which these dolls – none of which are indigenous African dolls – are invested.
Gerard Quenum is showing work at The October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1 until 27 June.