We chat to established Togolese artist Kossi Aguessy about the inspiration behind his Koreo sidetable and ‘I.Doll. II. The Sun Bronze’ – as well as what he’s got planned for the future.
Why did you choose to use metal for the Koreo sidetable and ‘I.Doll. II. The Sun Bronze’?
In order to bring a touch of accessibility to my art game, I turned the original aluminium ‘I.Doll. II. The Sun’ into twelve bronze editions. I love and respect the nobility of traditional materials and have always had a natural attraction to them. The Koreo sidetable comes in three different versions; a wenge wood version, a polished brass version and a coated brass version. The aim is to allow people to combine them as they please.
What inspired these pieces?
‘I. Doll’ is a work about spirituality. In this world, people end up pretending that they are happy all day long, yet they are lost. I felt an urge 13 years ago to get back to the elements, materialise my own idols and be as primal as possible – and this is how ‘I. Doll’ was born. ‘The Sun’ is a celebration of life and was formally inspired by Inti, the ancient Inca empire’s sun god, whereas Koreo, on the contrary, had no spiritual or intellectual inspiration, yet there is a matter of ideology about it. In a strictly useful sense, as a sidetable, Koreo was inspired by the Mandingue Bongos.
What message did you want to get across with these two works?
Beyond my general ‘Africa is futuristic’ purpose that flows through all my work, Koreo has no distinct message. However, ‘I. Doll’ tells the story of how we need to move beyond beautiful lies and get back to the basics of life.
How do these pieces speak to your other work?
I have always considered my work to be a gigantic puzzle, where each piece has to be in a precise place in order to read the ensemble properly. These two works, although independent, are chapters of the same book. With this book – which is not made of straight-lined scriptures, but sinuous forms and symbols – you have to take the time for reading. And what interests me as an artist, beyond my own vision, is other people’s interpretations of these pieces of the puzzle.
When is your next exhibition and what are you planning for it?
A lot of my current projects and exhibitions have a link with education, childcare or political issues. I am working with Christie’s Auction House and the Gracious Heart charity foundation on an auction, and also exhibiting in Dubai, Johannesburg, New York and Paris. My main focus this year will be on the Archeology exhibition for Frieze London, not because it is meant to be the biggest of my solo shows to date, but because it must be the most personal, introspective and maybe the most ‘stripped naked’ one.
And what can we expect from you in the future?
I have decided to have a six-month hiatus from exhibiting as I am more focused on my inhibited desires and concerns at the moment. I feel that our society and the art world has become a race, and we spend too much time making plans and looking for the next best thing. I personally have spent the last few decades making plans as well, and I came to the conclusion that most of them were driven by vanity. So, I have decided not to race any more and spend six months focusing on what really matters to me as a person, tour the world, meet people and enjoy the simple things.
See more of Aguessy’s work, here.