Jean Loup Pivin, Pascal Martin Saint Leon and Simon Njami
While metaphors may give an image to a way of thinking, an approach, they are not an end in themselves and have their own limitations. « Mario Benjamin’s room » is a metaphor allowing us to get as close as possible to his work. Yet here, in the unfolding world of his room photographed by Roberto Stephenson, we see that that it is no metaphor. At the core of his work, at the core of his desire as he likes to say, is this single bed of his childhood, which can be occupied only by bodies lying one on top of the other; here is the core of his life, sometimes sleepless now, empty when he is absent, hospitalized or rushing around the world.
We can see Haiti as a larger version of Mario Benjamin’s room; yet there is no dichotomy with his country as it exists – its people, expressions and talents, in all likelihood very different from those noted by Malraux, Breton and many other admirers of the vitality of popular art, who often reduce Haitian work to its « naïve » aspect.
Mario Benjamin is an artist of his time who also makes installations. Or rather, painting and installations. For it is his painting that attracts attention today in a context where the artist’s hand has become a rarity in the western art world.
Opening the doors to Mario Benjamin’s rooms sometimes means standing on the threshold and looking in through the half open door, it often means stepping inside, sometime losing oneself. A metaphor exists only to avoid words without space, words without their poetry. Such is the room of imprisonment that is never locked, the room of love that is always open.
Mario Benjamin confronted by himself.
115 color photographs of his studio and works by Roberto Stephenson, Victor Pétion, David Damoison and Marc Steed
Jean Loup Pivin, Pascal Martin Saint Leon, Simon Njami
192 color pages, 27×21 cm, hardcover
English and French
Published by Revue noire