Ornis A. Gallery proudly presents the work of artist Thierry Oussou (1988, Benin). Thierry Oussou makes videos, installations, drawings, and paintings. In this solo exhibition, various paintings and drawings as well as an installation will be on view, in order to provide the viewer with a sneak peak into the diversity of his oeuvre. Oussou makes use of diverse materials such as wood, paper, plastic, coals, acrylic ink, and colour pencil. Thierry prefers working on paper, for he admires the fragile, individual and human-like characteristics of this medium. These characteristics do appeal to him as well in the process of working with wood. Oussou underscores the poetic function of wood. The life cycle of wood and the transformations of the material structure this cycle inherently includes (the transition from tree to end product) keep constantly fascinating and challenging him in his artistic process.
The use of paper in the work of Oussou is never completely neutral. This material provides him with the possibility of burning it, ripping it, pasting it back together, gluing layers of paper on top of each other to form a relief, and so further. Consequently, his paintings and drawings always show concrete traces of the artistic process. These ‘scars’ are never concealed, but always explicitly revealed. An important and recurring element in his work is the paper mask, composed of burned pieces of paper.
In Oussou’s artistic universe, we find all sorts of symbols or signs (turtles, lions, suitcases, cars, guns and tanks, birds, chairs, women with ballerina-like gowns, and chameleons) often indirectly referring to serious matters concerning for example ‘democracies’ and African politics. Furthermore, Oussou sees art as a universal language, with the potential to communicate especially those topics of which we cannot (freely) speak. He is preoccupied with the human condition in general, and with all existential questions that accompany this theme.
It seems tempting to read strong political references in the work of Oussou. Nevertheless, his work will never be explicitly critical towards political affairs, for he tends to avoid provocation or possible political associations. However, actualities and personal experiences are two themes around which his work revolves. He wants to offer his viewer a window into another reality, hoping that his work is able to encourage us to consciously reflect on the traces we leave behind in this world.
Thierry Oussou was born in Allada, Benin, in 1988, where he created the art studio, Yè and continues to give workshops on arts and visual culture in schools and cultural institutions across Benin. He is currently a resident at the the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (2015-2016). He previously exhibited at Dokoutin, Brussels (2014) and in the Dakar Biennale, DAK’ART 2014.