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Europe-Africa-the Americas


The Black Ocean is French artist William Adjété Wilson's homage to his ancestors and his reflection on humanity and its capacity for both great achievement and nobility, and the basest horror and depravity. Wilson, a painter, printmaker, sculptor, author and illustrator based in Paris, journeyed to West Africa where, over a period of nearly two years, he worked with artisans in Abomey, Benin to create a series of eighteen fabric panels interpreting the historical narratives of the peoples of West Africa and of the infamous triangle trade.

These powerful textiles bear witness to the richness of African culture and symbology and the complex histories that interweave in reconstructing the African diaspora.

In this collection of narrative- laden works, William Wilson has attempted to represent the concepts and aphorisms that aim to pass on the philosophy, ethics and belief systems at the root of Akan civilization and, more widely, of all human society.

W Wilson sought to locate himself intellectually and spiritually in relation to his European and African roots, to reconcile this divergent and complicated heritage, and to come to terms with the historical realities of African involvement in the slave trade, in its associated oral narratives, still being explored today, and in the broader implications of this history for all his fellow "travelers." "But this traveler is also you, readers and viewers," Wilson writes in the text with the exhibition. "I invite you to explore this Black Ocean, tracing back a past that is far from concluded, since it holds the keys to understanding the present." Wilson has been awarded numerous prizes and residencies, including a Villa Medici Prize that allowed him to travel in the U.S. for a year, a residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY, and a La Napoule Art Foundation artist residency in southern France. In 1998 he collaborated with production teams for Louis Vuitton on the design and printing of a series of silk scarves. He has done theatrical work with dance troupesin France, has published several illustrated books for children, including “The Crocodile’s Proverbs” published by Gallimard in 2003.

A fully illustrated book  L'Océan Noir had been published in France by Gallimard- Jeunesse.2009.

ISBN : 9 782070625239

the black ocean william A Wilson

2010  | nc