Bio and CV

William Adjété WILSON is based  in Paris (France) and is currently working in Benin, Togo and Haïti.

He was born in France from a french mother and a father from the Guin-Mina people living on the coast of Togo-Bénin.
He grew up in Orléans and reached university in Paris at 19 to study philosophy and anthropology .
At 18 he had his first travel in the Gulf of Guinea and he began, step by step, to discover the history of his african families on the west coast of Africa from Ghana to Nigeria, especially the Wilson-Bahun-Lawson families from Aneho (Togo) from on side and to the so-called " Brasilian" or Agouda , the d’Almeida- da Silva families  from Ouidah (Benin).

He began art, as a self-taught artist. First show in 1979.
Since 1983 he has held many shows in Europe and the US.

In 1986 he got the « Prix de la Villa Hors les murs » a grant to spend one year in New-York and California.

WW is using many different medias. Pastels, paintings, sculpturs and assemblages, drawings and collages, textils, photographs and videos, prints and illustrations.

In the 80’ and 90’, WW had many collaboration with other artists and created costums and sets for musical-videos, modern choregraphies, artists books as well as textils pattern, design, wall paintings etc.

As an illustrator, he had work with the New-Yorker in the US, Liberation, Telerama etc. in France , and for many publishers.
He also created 13 books for young public, and he holds occasionally workshops and lectures.

In 1997 he was commissioned by the United Nations to illustrate the 50th Anniversary book of the « Universal Declaration of Human Rights. »
UN Editions. Geneva 1998. In 6 languages.

During his about 25 years career, WW had several opportunities to stay in artists residences.
1983 : 2 month residency in Jamaïca. Works about music and the Rastafarians .
1987 : 2 months in Yaddo (New-York State).
1990 : 3 month in La Napoule foundation (France).
In 1998 he spend a 3 month residence in Kyoto (Japan), studiing japanese temples gardens.

2000 he was 8 weeks in Mauritius, working on the tropical sea life.

2004 He was commissioned to create a stone-garden ( 500 m2 ) in the artist colony of A.I.R. near Pondichery (Tamil Nadu. India).

2007-2008-2009. He had 6 sojourns in Abomey (Benin) working with the families of traditional « Tenturiers » to create the series « L’Océan Noir,The Black Ocean, O Oceano negro ». 18 pieces of appliquéd telling on 3 different aspects , the history of the Gulf of Benin and the consequences up to nowdays.

This series was already showned in 25 places, museums and other institutions. In France, Belgium, the Usa, Israel, Suisse , Italie, Mali, Togo, Benin…

A book-catalogue was published in april 2009 by Gallimard in Paris and is still available.
As the author of the text, the images and the lay-out, WW is giving the main clues in his attemp to understand more about the heritage of his ancestors’ history.

It’s through the art that William Wilson intends to built a testimony of his destiny: singular and universal as well.


These days WW is working on a series of large collages of africain textiles (wax, bazin etc) and a series of haïtian flags in beads and sequins inValentin Valris workshop in Port-au-Prince (Haïti)

The Black Ocean was in Bahia (Brésil) in august 2013...

October 2014 résidency at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbour) exhibition:

"And I endlessly create myself: The black Ocean series"

In 2016, The Black Ocean was part of the Textile Museum exhibition "Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora"

in Washington DC  ( April-September)

And as a solo show  in Saint-Laurent du Maroni (French-Guyana) May to august.


The vaudou flags will be in a solo show at the Musée du Nouveau Monde in La Rochelle (France) december 2016 to june 2017.



Here after a Text by Simon Njami for the catalogue of the touring exhibition :
Otro pais Escalas Africanas, Spain 1994-1995-1996
William Adjété Wilson is a dandy. His paintings, his sculptures, his all work is there to demonstrate the fact. But let us not misunderstand the term; there has always been too much of a tendency to attribute a certain affectation to the dandy, a certain superficiality and cynicism.

This is a mistake. William Wilson is a dandy in a sense that all his work revolves around an aestetic of life which he has forged over a number of years. We should not forget that William Wilson is both African and European at the same time. He stands at the crossroad in that contradictory journey from North to South.

And to complicate our biography still further, William Wilson became a graffiti artist, a street painter and a hoodlum. He has maintained a healthy distance between himself and the world and art, as it is known in the West, an action no doubt dictated by his Togo origin. As a consequence, his painting could be summed up as a dialogue between two heritages which it may be impossible to reconcile.

William Wilson as a dandy tends to ignore both the one and the other, seeking a third way, a third voice, which is his own. Of course, in the smiles of his characters, in the grotesqueness of the forms he paints, in the colors he loves, one might be tempted to look for and find references. It is a useless task. His work is born of an instinctive gesture which is deceptive. Everything is calculated, studied, with the aim of finding a language of the absurd which cannot leave us, voyeurs that we are, cold and unaffected.

The stunts are faultless. Look for the African and you will find the Frenchman drenched in the history of art. Not the history of yesterday, but that of today, here and now, of which the artist is one of the principal protagonists. Look for the European and it is the African who pops up; witness his depictions of legends, his myths from another age, his primitivism which Picasso taugh us to distrust. In all this, apparent superficiality, apparent cynicism.

These two elements reveal a profond understanding of the world which forces us to seek further and beyond, that is to say, beyond cliché and easy mythology, beyond the realm of received ideas. This is because in the artist's work, the truth always exists elsewhere. In another place whose features the artist himself has not even finished exploring.

This other place, this journey which compels us here, constitutes a valuable testimony, one which we cannot do without. The very fact that Wilson stands at the crossroads of that old debate between modernity and tradition, Africa and the West, means that his work is also there to force us to question the too obvious evidence and a priori reasoning to which we are to a lesser or a greater extent accustomed. This interrogation goes to the very heart of the art which is being produced.

This hybrid art, rid of all the old demons of History.

by Simon Njami, writer, contemporary art critic and curator,
  More on: http://www.artistsinpastel.com/2012/06/william-adjete-wilson.html

 Photo by Aldo Sperber © <http://picturetank.com>


For more information see the pdf inclosed...