Thierry Oussou: Timelines

Thierry Oussou: Timelines

From June 21 to July 25, 2018, Tiwani Contemporary gallery, London will present Timelines, an exhibition of recent work by contemporary Beninoise artist Thierry Oussou.

In his pictorial work, Thierry Oussou reflects on the relationship between past and present and envisions how painting can function as a repository for culture. The large works on paper presented in this exhibition illustrate the artist’s on-going interest in mining the past (languages, traditions and objects) for inspiration.

Oussou paints exclusively on black paper and favours large-scale formats. The paintings showcase his distinctively gestural style with drips, scratches, splatters and calligraphic marks. Distorted figures, faces, objects and symbols float freely against the dark background of the paper. Much of the work in this exhibition was inspired by drawings and scriptures the artist observed in his immediate environment, such as charcoal wall doodles made by playing children in his hometown of Allada, Benin; and chalk markings recording remittances on the walls of his grandfather’s atelier. Oussou is interested in commonplace, everyday life drawings – the kind that is barely noticeable yet ubiquitous, and highlights drawing’s nature as a universal human endeavour, a shared visual language of expression.

The artist cultivates a keen interest in the physical properties of paper, such as colour, shape and texture and often presents his pictorial works alongside sculptural installations using tree branches and twigs. Carefully arranged on the floor, they evoke the highly stylised and visual manifestations of cuneiform languages and nod to the transformative process by which natural organic matter becomes artistic support.

Thierry Oussou was born in 1988 in Allada, Benin and is currently based in Amsterdam. In 2011, he founded the art studio Yè and continues to give workshops on arts and visual culture in schools and cultural institutions across Benin. Oussou has worked as an assistant to Ernesto Houngbo, Meschac Gaba and Barthélémy Toguo. He has participated in residencies at Arthouse Foundation, Lagos (2017) and Rijksakademie, Amsterdam (2015-2016).

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