Rafiy Okefolahan, born 1979 in Porto-Novo, Benín, trained in the workshops of artist friends in Benin and at the National School of Fine Arts in Dakar. He is an artist that both paints and produces installation art. He lives and works in Cotonou (Benin) and in Auxerre (France).
His path has taken him from Togo to Nigeria and to various countries of Occidental Africa, prior to his two-year stay in Senegal, attending the National School of Fine Arts in Dakar. He has had solo and group exhibitions in Benin, Nigeria, France, Belgium, England, Spain, Switzerland and coming up shortly in both Barcelona and Zurich.
Rafiy´s paintings are peopled with faces, symbols, signs and numbers comparable to a music score of forms and colours. The artist mixes humble everyday materials such as coffee grounds or rust with more traditional artistic materials such as oil paint and natural pigments.
Powerful and aesthetic, his painting is also charged with social content. Rafiy states he works "amidst the noise of the world". Greatly influenced by current affairs, he conceives his work as a means to order the chaos of real life, to strive against oblivion, to remember. The streets are his favourite terrain, from where he obtains all inspiration.
His artistic investigation is focused on the subject of memory. He highlights identity issues as well as makes specific references to history of art and African society. And if his colours are so rich, so vibrant, perhaps it is only an attempt to heal wounds and show how Africa is able to remain beautiful despite its socio-economic difficulties.
Rafiy is steadily asserting himself as one of the most singular artists of his generation, for the way in which he uses his painting here and now as a means to question the viewer on the images divulged by immediate and global media.
And yet Rafiy refuses to exploit this instant and often tragic communication; he keeps a distance and knows how to engage the subtleties of painting to express himself. His paintings do not deliver their secrets straight away, the meaning is never direct, and his paintings reveal ambiguity and duality. The commitment on canvas and the exaltation of colour, illustrate the force of the confrontation.
Méné, born 1977 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast graduated in 2002 from the National School of Fine Arts of Abidjan (ENBA) and from the Teacher Training Centre for Arts and Culture (CFPAC). He is an artist influenced by cave painting, and uses this primitive printing as his means of expression. He takes from the past to better understand the present. His work strives to be the continuity of an old civilisation enriched by modernism.
“In the beginning was innocence and purity", this view of things guides the artist in his work, leading him to a minimalism of form and sobriety of colour. The artist feels the need to express himself using matter and chooses various kinds of supports and pigments: earth, kaolin, sand, bark... bases and forms make up a whole in a dynamic of fused materials. Méné believes he has a role to play in society in the sense that he is a spokesperson, essential for the development of humanity. Current affairs, present day plagues are an excuse to carry his message. The creator artist destroys in order to build again only this time with love, his only salvation. In his paintings, love and hate jostle with each other as one, just like humanity. Colours are combined by means of chromatic symphonies. Each element plays its part...lines take form while colours are custodians for supports that simply yearn for recognition. In his work love and hate do not confront each other, but rather unite in a triumph of life.