The art of Rafiy Okefolahan it is embedded in a multimedia approach, but from a conceptual perspective, it is not so heterogeneous, rather it is positioned stiffly and seriously.
At first glance, it may seem that the artist is only delighted with bright colors and loving shapes. However, by embracing abstraction as his main feature, Okefolahan is keen to subtly but critically undermine the collision of African and Western influences in order to speak to the issues he finds most troubling in his homeland.
Rafiy was born in 1979 in New Port. I study in the School Nationale des Arts de Dakar Rally and simultaneously trained in painting under glass and photography. Then came a famous residence in The Cite Internationale des Arts de Paris and in 2008 created the association Elowa to stimulate the creation of visual arts in Benin and encourage exchanges between artists.
A year later, Okefolohan participated in the Professional Meetings of Contemporary Art in Ouidah, Benin, Organized by PSYCD BENIN (a program for cultural initiatives) and EPA (L'Ecole du Patrimoine Africain - School of African Heritage). In 2010, the Okefolahan Association launched the festival waba, an open house festival at Cotonou artist studios. Since then, and over the years, the artist has exhibited in France, Spain and Belgium, and his works became part of public collections in those countries.
The core of the Okefolahan process represents the inspiration that is largely drawn from the context of African culture and the religion of Vodun. Starting from the concept of devotion to spirits and deities, the artist examines this mysterious spiritual tradition according to the abuses of power and the daily injustices in Benin.
Apparently intrigued by the subject of perception in general, Okefolahan explores the hidden worlds beneath human consciousness. The always intense relationship between reality and the incomprehensible is what leads the artist to examine complex political and social mechanisms.
The most frequent medium that Okefolahan works with is definitely paint. His production of textured canvases is spontaneous and saturates them with color, and sometimes text. Interestingly, the numbers on his chart are Beninese phone numbers.
This is related to the custom of the inhabitants of Porto Novo, artist's hometown, of writing phone numbers on walls all over town and using these numbers as a kind of contact book. In addition to these formal elements, Okefolahan uses an organic material such as earth, sand or coffee grounds to point out the chaos of reality, as he likes to say.
Through his work, Okefolahan communicates his lived experiences: states of animation and desolation.
The difficulty of living in a repressive society where the person is not able to express themselves deeply affected his creative process and caused his art to be perceived as surreal and gloomy.
Depicting fantasy worlds, sometimes images of suffering, made Okefolahan's expressive art recognizable and authentic and encouraged him to pursue his dreams and make them come true in the best way possible, and remains so to this day.
PowerGroup Exhibition 23 Aug - 19 Dec 2022Our latest group show titled 'Power' focuses on the individual strength of each piece. Starting with Omofemi's Omoge that takes you on a journey into his muses' darkest secrets accentuated by the red in her left eye. His next painting, depicting him falling asleep next to his wife, is a...Read more