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Founded in 1979, October Gallery, in central London, exhibits innovative, contemporary art from around the world. For over 40 years, October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde - the trans-cultural avant-garde.


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Julien Sinzogan

Julien Sinzogan was born in 1957 in Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin. He studied architecture in Paris at the École Spéciale des Travaux Public, and later ran a department of computer images before turning to painting professionally. He lives and works in France. Sinzogan has exhibited throughout Europe and Africa in both group and solo shows, including Spirit Worlds at the October Gallery, London (2010) and a specially-commissioned piece for the Uncomfortable Truths Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2007).

Sinzogan’s work subtly expresses the way of life informed and inspired by the Yoruba divinatory and religious system known as Ifa. The Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin in West Africa see life as taking a cyclical trajectory through which individuals experience the tangible world (aye), depart to the spirit world (orun) and are reborn. Sinzogan’s works explore the journeys between these different but closely related worlds. The voyages between such realms lie at the heart of religious practice across much of the Atlantic world, a world forever shaped by another voyage: the middle passage of the Atlantic slave trade.

Sinzogan’s mixed-media and fine pen-and-ink works conjure the world of the spirits and their gods (vodun and orisha), the gods to whom millions of enslaved Africans would have prayed, departing through the ‘Gates of No Return’ in the slave ports of the West African coast. Yet Sinzogan does not portray these ports as sites of loss, but as triumphant arrival points for the homeward return of lost spirits about to be reborn. The galleons in his works are not the dark evil-smelling slave ships of the Europeans, but are in the process of being transformed by their African cargoes into colourful and triumphant symbols of resistance. Above the sepia-tinted decks of the phantom caravelles racing under full canvas towards the African coast, the sails come to life with the richly coloured motifs of the Egungun masquerades, which celebrate the ancestor’s return to their native villages. These powerful symbolic images work as a salve to ease the lingering sore of that long compact of blood sealed between the African and European powers. Thus does art, by holding up a mirror reflecting our shared past, render more clearly visible the path of our common future.


Masters of the Transvangarde
Spirit Worlds
October Gallery Spring Show 2008
Angaza Afrika
VOYAGES - Crossing the Lake of Fire

Terre en vue! (Land Ho!)
Triptych (left panel)

Terre en vue! (Land Ho!)
Triptych (centre panel)

Terre en vue! (Land Ho!)
Triptych (right panel)

Etat d’esprits II: ceux d’en haut (Spirit Worlds II: Those on High)

Désenchaînement II


Sails of Return IX


Dagbissou by Julien Sinzogan

Julien SInzogan Biography

Born 27th of January, 1957, in Porto-Novo.
Republic of Benin. Lives and works in Paris.
1978-79   Preparatory Faculty, Art School Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

1979-82   B.T.S. de l’Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Publics, Paris, France.
1983-87   Head of Images Section, Laboratoire International de Calcul et d’Informatique Appliquée (L.I.C.I.A.), Paris, France.
Selected solo exhibitions
2010  Spirit Worlds, October Gallery, London, UK.
2009   Chemins d’esclaves, Museum of Angoulême, Angoulême, France.
2008   Journées ébène, Voyages: la porte du retour, Musée de la peinture de Grenoble, Grenoble, France.
2003   French National Assembly, Paris, France.
Selected group exhibitions
2015   Africa Africans, Museu Afro Brazil, São Paulo, Brazil
2010   L’Art Actuel d’Afrique, Collégiale Saint-André, Chartres, France.
    Jo’burg Art Fair, October Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2009   Jo’burg Art Fair, October Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2008   Jo’burg Art Fair, October Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Angaza Africa, African Art Now, October Gallery, London, UK.
Spring Show, October Gallery, London, UK.
    Angaza Africa, African Art Now, October Gallery, London, UK.
    Spring Show, October Gallery, London, UK.
2007   Uncomfortable Truths: the shadow of slave trading on contemporary art and design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
    Voyages: Crossing the Lake of Fire,
October Gallery, London, UK.
2006   17th Salon International, Château de Beauregard, Caen, France.
2005   Aux Grain d’Argent, Angoulême, France.
    Agence Française pour le Développement (AFD), Paris, France.
2004   Artists from Around the World, October Gallery, London, UK.
2003   Transvangarde: Zeitgenössische Kunst aus der Welt (Contemporary Art from Around the Planet), Kulturbrauerei, Pferdestall Gallery, Berlin, Germany.
2002   The Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury, UK.
    Permanent exhibition, Atelier de l’Yvette, Epinay sur Orge, France.
    A Thousand Ways of Being: Memory and Presence in the Arts of Diasporas, October Gallery, London, UK.
2001   Journées Béninoises, Dourdan, France
    The Power of the Word Exhibition, Archive Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge, UK.
2000   Rendering Visible, October Gallery, London, UK.
1999   Maison de l’Ile, Auvers sur Oise, France.
    D’Afrique et de Cuba, André Malraux Cultural Centre, Le Bourget, France.
    Couleurs Vodun, Lille Town Hall,
Lille, France.
1997-99   Permanent exhibition, Centre Français du Cadre, Paris, France.
1997   7th Plein Sud Festival, Cozes, France.
1996   Hôtel Novotel, Cotonou, Benin.
1994   Espace Kauffman-Eiffel, Paris, France.
1993   Petit Palais, Cotonou, Benin.
    Ouidah ‘92: First Internationl Festival of the Arts and Cultures of Vodun, Ouidah and Cotonou, Benin.
1992   Ecole pour l’Informatique et les Techniques Avancées (E.P.I.T.A.), Paris, France.
1991   Ministère de l’Education Nationale, Paris, France.
1990   Gallery Gabor Uzvesky, Bussy Saint-Georges, France.
2009   From Slave Trade to the Abolition of Slavery, Colloquium, Museum of Angoulême, France.
    Art, Education and Politics, Conference, IUFM Poitou-Charentes / Poitiers University, Angoulême, France.
2006   The Vodun, Lille Town Hall, Lille, France.
    Art and Symbolism in the Vodun Religion, UNESCO, Paris, France.
1991   The Power of the Word / La Puissance du Verbe, Colloquium, Churchill College, Cambridge, UK.
UNESCO, Paris, France.
World Bank, Washington, D.C., USA.
Museum of Angoulême, Grenoble, France.
Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, USA.
Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie,Paris, France.
Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, USA.
The Presidential Palace, Republic of Benin,Cotonou, Benin.
Embassy of the Republic of Benin, Paris, France. Various private collections throughout the United States, Europe and Africa.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL Tel: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367