To mark his 80th birthday, the Ernst Barlach Haus in Hamburg devotes an extensive solo exhibition to the Benin-born installation artist Georges Adéagobo. Born in 1942, Adéagbo has travelled for decades between Cotonou (Benin), Hamburg and exhibition venues throughout the world. The European art world began to take notice of him in the 1990s, and today he ranks among the most significant of African artists.
He participated in Documenta11 (2002) and the biennials in Dakar (1996), Johannesburg (1997), Sidney (1998), São Paulo (1998), Venice (1999 and 2009), Lyon (2000) and Shanghai (2016). Numerous solo and group exhibitions in important institutions during the past three decades have brought his name to the forefront in Europe, the US, Africa, Australia and Japan. Works by Adéagbo have entered the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Bundeskunst- sammlung, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Moderna Museet Stockholm and the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art.
Georges Adéagbo’s works are spatial assemblages that extend over walls and floors. They juxtapose craft objects with everyday items from different cultures, objets trouvés, flea-market finds, rugs, clothing, records, posters, newspapers books and the artist’s own philosophical texts. Forgoing Western systems of order and hierarchies of value, Adéagbo weaves a complex web of relationships between things, images and ideas. Their non-linear, ramifying co-existence prompts an associative viewing that can bring about numerous interconnections. These arrangements are both personal and political. Always related to their respective exhibition venue, they locate the artist’s own history within socio-political issues and events of global relevance.
Adéagbo counters a knowledge of worldwide conflicts with a utopia of global fellowship reflected in his own boundary-breaking life and work. His intercultural transfer enables the transformation of values, meaning and ideas.
In recent years the work of the expressionist Ernst Barlach (1870–1938) has left diverse traces in Adéagbo’s work – in the form of picture books, postcards or painted and sculptural translations commissioned from artisans in Benin. To mark his 80th birthday the Ernst Barlach Haus invited Georges Adéagbo to deepen this dialogue and to actively incorporate the collection of the Ernst Barlach Haus into an installation. And so Adéagbo’s exhibition trail will include some of Barlach’s major sculptural works, such as the Blind Beggar, Russian Lovers, Astrologer, Moses or The Reunion, along with around thirty selected drawings. Adéagbo takes up Barlach’s existential themes of war and violence, power and powerlessness, compassion and spirituality under the heading In the School of Ernest Barlach, the Sculptor, weaving them into his own perspectives and breaking new ground for the museum.
The exhibition has been organised in cooperation with Stephan Köhler, Kulturforum Süd-Nord e.V., Hamburg–Cotonou.