5 minutes with Yao Metsoko

Yao Metsoko is a Franco-Togolese painter-sculptor, after a brief period in London, he now lives and works in Paris. Discover its history and its artistic inspirations.

How did you find your artistic path?

Since my childhood and very early, I was interested in art and more particularly in plastic arts. Seeing my talent, my mother encouraged me to draw pictures of religious iconography and so began my artistic life.
Later, my encounters, my methodical artistic research and my determination will lead me to a more personal art.


What do you particularly appreciate in your work?

Art is par excellence the refusal of conventional fixed forms. Consequently, it gives me a feeling of permanent renewal of my artistic thought but also, it constitutes for me a major space of freedom of expression.
I like the possibilities that Art offers through the questioning of time, space and society. But also the cultural bridges that it allows to establish.
I particularly like my art to express my deepest feelings and to reveal a certain vision of the world.

How did your origins inspire you?

Franco-Togolese artist, I carry the memory of my country of origin Togo and Africa in general. I arrived in France at the age of 19 after having integrated a certain number of traditional codes. Also I like to keep in me and to value what founds the cardinal values of the living memory of the African people to better project myself in the world; Art is thus for me a powerful vector of the spiritual link that I maintain with Africa.


Can you tell us a little more about the “quintessence” series?

The series of works entitled “Quintessence…” is part of the work of heritage preservation with a special focus on the role of artists in the diaspora in relation to Contemporary Africa.
“Quintessence…” is one of the declinations of this artistic thought as free as it is committed on my part. Through this series of works, I lead an artistic, philosophical and political reflection on the question of the preservation of heritage and its valorisation.

The doors of happiness© YAO METSOKO

In these works, the dress symbolically represents the house, the woman, the mother, the mother earth. Among the Akposso, who come from the Adja-Tado people (plateau region in Togo), this house is essentially feminine. Thus, from its thousand-year-old traditions, its family and social structure is matriarchy. That is why here, these clothes have breasts on them; magic operated by the artistic act, “sovereign art”. The house is a temple and the 74 rectangular figures called “Assafu” represent the guardians of the front and back yard of the temple.
For the first time, an artist is integrating these thousand-year-old figures, an expression of our ancestors’ relationship with the cosmos and the invisible, into a contemporary work. Thus, the past and the present face each other making possible in a masterly way, the fluidity in the continuity of life.

the 3 pillars© YAO METSOKO

By sharing this memory through artistic creation, we update it and thus guarantee its universality.
May this artistic work inspire (you) us and contribute to enrich our quest for knowledge and mutual respect of our intrinsic values.

«When a palm tree dies, another one grows in its place“says the Akposso proverb.

Which artists do you admire?

Three artists, the painter Marc Chagall, the beadworker Clem Lawson and the sculptor Ousmane Sow have fundamentally changed my life as an artist;
I love Marc Chagall’s work for its poetic character and its infinite grace.
I like the work of the Togolese artist Clem Lawson for its authenticity, its technicality and its evocative power.
Finally, I love the work of the Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow for its strength and humanism.

Text by Yao METSOKO

Saint-Ouen, November 21, 2017

Yao Metsoko
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