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William Adjété Wilson


« WILLIAM Adjété WILSON stands at the crossroads of the old debate between modernity and tradition, Africa and the West,

to question the overly simplistic certainties and the preconceived notions to which we are, more or less, accustomed.

A questioning that goes to the heart of the art that is being created, a mixed art that has rid itself of all the old demons of History. » Simon Njami.

WW lives and works between Paris, Benin, Togo, and Haiti,

He held his first exhibition in Paris in 1976.

However, it was from 1983 onward that he began to regularly showcase his work in France, Europe, Africa, and later in the United States.

In 1986, he was awarded the Villa Medici Hors-les-Murs Prize and spent over a year in the United States.

William Adjété Wilson primarily works with soft pastel on paper, but he also creates wood sculpture-assemblages, paintings, prints (lithographs, linocuts, screen prints), as well as numerous collages. He also develops collaborative work with artists and artisans in West Africa and Haiti.

William Wilson sometimes collaborates with other creators in various fields.

For example, he worked with Dominique Bagouet on the sets and costumes for a choreography, Les petites pièces de Berlin (1988), and collaborated on music videos for Rita Mitsouko (Marcia Baïla) and Mory Kanté.

He creates « artist books » in collaboration with writers or partners with fashion houses, like « Louis Vuitton » for artist scarf editions, or for Rodier and Arches shoes, etc.

As an illustrator, he works for publishers (Gallimard, Folio, Flammarion, etc.) and for newspapers and magazines, such as « The New Yorker, » « Du » from Zurich, « Télérama, » and « Libération » in Paris. He designs cultural posters (like « Fête de la Musique 98 » and festivals).

In 1994, with Isabelle Jarry, he traveled for three months through the southwestern United States.

Upon his return, WW created a series of 11 large pastels (150 x 150 cm) The Journey to Arizona. In 1995 and 1996, this work was exhibited in solo shows in Paris and San Francisco (Arizona tour).

Louis Vuitton published 5 silk scarves in 1,000 copies each and two exhibition catalogs.

In 1997, WW illustrated the 50th anniversary edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with 22 paintings, co-published by Mango and the UN.

From 1998, WW published about a dozen children’s books alone or with an author.

In 1998, he accompanied Isabelle Jarry to her residency at Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto, Japan, followed by an exhibition in Tokyo-Shibuya. There, he discovered the Japanese gardens of Kyoto.

In 1999, he designed and created a « Stone Garden » (35m²) in Paris.

In 2000, he spent 8 weeks in Mauritius and held an exhibition in Rosehill.

In 2001, WW illustrated and designed Nelson Mandela for Mango Editions (Paris) with exhibitions of the originals in Vitry/Seine, Orléans, etc.

In 2001, he illustrated « The Rain Commander’s Tale » by Patrick Chamoiseau, published by Gallimard.

In 2002, he created a garden sculpture for the Scarecrow exhibition by JP COFFE, which toured Paris, Versailles, Bordeaux, etc.

In 2004, during a residency at AIR, he designed and set up a « Stone Garden » near Pondicherry in South India (350m²). This garden was destroyed by the December 2004 tsunami and restored in 2006.

From 2007 to 2009, he created a series of 18 appliqué fabric hangings in Abomey, Benin, which became the subject of a book titled THE BLACK OCEAN Gallimard Editions 2009.

From 2009 to 2011, The Black Ocean was exhibited in France, Italy, Israel, Mali, Belgium, Switzerland, Senegal, the United States, Togo, and Benin.

Currently, WW works on fabric collages on paper (see recent works section).

The exhibitions of the series The Black Ocean continue in French Guiana in August and September 2015, and at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC from March to August 2016…

In March 2013, Gallimard-Giboulées published « Samangalé: Woven and Interwoven Tales », 10 stories freely illustrated with WW’s works.

In 2013, he had an artist residency at IFITRY, Morocco, with an exhibition in Casablanca: April 2014, and in March 2016, he began working with red clay ceramics, creating several hundred plates, dishes, etc.

He had an artist residency at SACATAR in Bahia, Brazil, from July to August 2013, where he held an exhibition O Oceano Negro at Casa do Benin, Salvador do Bahia, in August 2013.

In October 2014, he had a residency at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA), with an exhibition titled « And I endlessly create myself: The Black Ocean series ».


July 10-13, 2015: Drapos Vaudou/Vaudou Flags. Participation in the Santa Fe Folk Art Market with work created in Haiti in collaboration with Valentin Valris. Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.


May-June-July The Black Ocean in Saint Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana.

April-September: The Black Ocean at the Textile Museum, Washington, DC, USA.


December 10, 2016 – May 28, 2017: Haiti: An Island under the Wind of History at the Museum of the New World, La Rochelle, France