Gerard Quenum is active/lives in Benin. Gerard Quenum is known for sculpture.
Biography from Bonhams Bond Street
Born in 1971, Gerard Quenum was raised in Benin's capital, Porto Novo. Due to the region's lack of artistic institutions and facilities, Quenum
received no formal training. Instead he spent his teenage years working
as an apprentice for a decorator. This gave him an opportunity to learn
a wide range of techniques in a number of different media, including
wood, metal, paint, plaster and clay.
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Quenum and his fellow apprentices
formed their own artistic movement, encouraging one another to
experiment and innovate. Quenum's aesthetic is characterized by
his use of 'urban detritus', discarded objects that he finds on the
streets around his studio. His sculptures are frequently constructed
from bits of bone, wood and plastic. However, he also incorporates
objects associated with Beninese traditions including mortars, drums and
Quenum is interested in the way the original functions of these
objects continue to inform his assemblages. The ritual elements lend
the sculptures a spiritual quality. The artist claims he is paying his
respects to ancestral customs.
Quenum's grandmother was a
Beninese priestess. He claims that her practices fundamentally
influenced his artistic approach. In this tradition, "objects must be
very precisely placed to interact with their environment so as to create
a special ambience". In referencing ancestral customs, Quenum
acknowledges his debt to tradition and simultaneously pays his respects.
artist first began to incorporate plastic dolls into his sculpture in
the late 1990s. Whilst walking one day, he happened across a plastic
doll abandoned by the roadside. Such toys frequently find their way to
Benin as part of overseas aid packages. The doll was soaked through, and
so Quenum took it back to his studio and nailed it to a wooden post to
dry. Over the next few days, he was struck by the pity and compassion
the doll aroused in his visitors.
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