A short video portrait shot in The Gambia, of Togolese painter Amigoe Dieudonné, who has traveled for over thirteen years around West Africa in his wheelchair, stopping along the way to create extensive bodies of work, which he exhibits and sells to be able to continue his odyssey.
We met Amigo, last year, whilst living in The Gambia, West Africa, at the opening night of our Photos Tell Stories – ‘The Gambia by Gambians‘ – exhibition. He asked us if we would film a short bio, to enable him to approach potential clients and galleries.
A few months ago, true to his independent and ever-inquisitive nature of the past thirteen years, Amigoe decided to make the arduous overland journey to Bamako, Mali, to see if he could expand his artistic career. He recently contacted us to give us some great news – thanks to the Senegalese Chamber of Commerce he, and a select number of other artists, have been given the opportunity to travel to Germany to exhibit their work. Amigoe is currently back in his homeland of Togo, waiting for his new passport.
We wish him all success in his continuing odyssey. Watch this space, as we’ll be keeping a close eye on his progress.
Both of us have always been fascinated by the traditional Gambian ‘masquerades’ – after having seen many over the years, throughout the country and in neighboring Senegal – dynamic, wonderfully mysterious, and sometimes down right dark and scary!
Whether it be a circumcision ceremony, celebrating a successful harvest, chasing away evil spirits, enforcing village rules, or simply for entertainment, masquerades play a central and significant role in many parts of West African society.
Before we left The Gambia last month – a short hiatus to spend time with family – we began to work on the masquerade project…
We’re also working closely with the Gambia National Centre for Arts and Culture – to produce a series of masquerade portraits for an exhibition in the near future. There is an abundance of masquerades – from the ‘Cumpo‘, ‘Kankurang‘, ‘The Hunter‘, ‘Agomalah’, to the stilted ‘Monpara‘. We look forward to exploring these more fully, when we return to West Africa in the coming months – delving deep into the origins and traditions of each one we meet; to create a photographic anthropology of the traditional masquerade
On the opening night of the Photos Tell Stories exhibition, we were very fortunate to be introduced to highly accomplished Togolese artist, Amigoe Dieudonné . During further meetings, Amigoe – an articulate, charismatic man – began to tell us the compelling story of his life, since leaving his Togolese home and family at 19 years old, living as a disabled artist, in various countries in West Africa. And, how his travels have shaped the very distinctive art he produces today.
We began to film and photograph Amigoe – again, shortly before we left The Gambia – who invited us into to his home and studio, to fully share with us the rich and vibrant tapestry of his life. We look forward to continuing this story too, when we return.
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We would like to extend our thoughts to all those, in West Africa, who have been affected by the recent Ebola crisis, and we pray that it does not spread further.