West African artist Julien Sinzogan and Spirit Worlds take to the October Gallery, London

By Laura Burgess | 26 October 2010
An image of a multicoloured African oil painting
Benin artist Julien Sinzogan brightens the ever-colourful October Gallery this month© October Gallery, London
Exhibition: Julien Sinzogan: Spirit World, October Gallery, London, until November 6 2010

West African groups Yoruba and Fon follow the main religion of Vodoun, where patterns of worship include various dialects, Gods, practises, songs and rituals.

Julien Sinzogan is from Benin, once one of the largest slave trade ports on the west coast. The creative artist combines Vodoun and the history of his hometown for a vision of the African soul, which is part of this mythological show at the October Gallery.

An architect turned draughtsman, Sinzogan's creations are about cultural identity; from the slaves taken to the New World to the return of their spirits to African shores.

His fine pen and ink works show the Gates of no Return – the ports in which millions of slave passed through – not as a site of loss but the arrival point for the return of lost souls.

An image of a multicoloured African oil painting
The works are inspired by Vodoun beliefs© October Gallery, London
Vodoun religion believes in a link between the visible world that we live in now and the invisible world of the ancestor spirits. Sometimes these worlds rub shoulders and the ancestors look to the world of men to see what is happening.

Sinzogan shows this in his work when a large phantom ship returns with spirits from the Caribbean, with a different layer of reality through a living flock of birds. The birds are white silhouettes as they fly into colourful sails of the spirits' family crests. Another drawing depicts the floating world of the Egungun spirits, their naked bodies redrawn as tribal patterns which mark them out as belonging to certain families, soaring above the world of men.

Sinzogan's vision portrays the grim realities of those darkest times in history, but also offers a message of redemption and healing. The exhibition coincides with Black History Month 2010. 

Visit www.octobergallery.co.uk
or call 020 7242 7367 for further information.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
Museum Crush digest sign up ad
We are culture24