I visit the Togolese painter Yaffah Kanfitine in his small studio in Togo’s capital Lomé. He specializes in contemporary art and started with painting in the year 2000. He never attended any art school.
“I am an autodidact”, he admits. Yaffah is 32 years old and was born in a small village near Lomé. “It is very difficult to live of art”, he says. “But being a painter is just the dream of my life.”He is always looking for special topics. Now he chose education. “All the school pupils have their own history. That is what interests me.”
Some years ago he taught art in the school of his village. “The kids told me their stories and I got the inspiration for that project.” Yaffah had already expositions of his work in other West African countries, as in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
“For the future I love to exhibit more internationally, specially also in Europe and USA.”
I meet Victor Gugel in his art gallery at the seaside in Lomé, Togo. He opened it short time ago, it is the biggest gallery in the capital of the West African country. “I like to combine traditional and modern art”, he says and shows me some Voodoo art pieces.
Up to now modern art was only visible in exhibitions at the French Cultural Institute or at Goethe Institut. Victor is 31 years old and lives already for two years in Togo. He grew up in Natitingou in neighbouring Benin, where his German mother, Barbara Gugel, was also an artist, specialized in grass and straw jewellery.
He is often in the hometown of his mother, in Villingen-Schwenningen near the Black Forest. But his heart belongs to Africa.
“I plan to have a new art exhibition every six weeks”, he adds. He likes to attract not only Togolese artists but also international ones. The location of his gallery at the seaside is very popular.
“Within five years time Lome will be the art capital of West Africa. I am sure”, he says before we go for visit a Togolese Painter in the neighbourhood. www.gugelgallery.com