Tokoudagba, Cyprien (1939--2012) By Biton, Marlène
Cyprien Tokoudagba was born in 1939 in Abomey, former royal capital of Dahomey, nowadays Benin. As an artist appreciated locally as the restorer of the low-reliefs of the royal buildings of the historical site of Abomey, he is also well known internationally for his many exhibitions in France, Germany, United States, England, Australia, etc. While conserving certain traditional aspects of the particular values of the fon culture, as an artist he nevertheless opened them up to potential universal and modern dimensions. In so doing he made himself a personal path situated between the artistic traditions of his culture and the universe of contemporary art; thus enabling fon art to evolve while protecting its meanings and fundamental structure. Through his work over the decades and the numerous creations he completed before his death in 2012, Tokoudagba has opened the way for the young artists of Benin by setting up a space from which it is possible to work while retaining their specificity and not becoming lost in undifferentiated aesthetics.