Romuald Hazoumè: The Fâ Series Opens September 6 at the Neuberger Museum of Art

Internationally renowned, Venice Biennale-bound artist unveils canvases that capture
his personal artistic journey through the visual lexicon of the
West African divination system Fâ.

August 28, 2023 | Purchase, New York  On September 6th, the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, SUNY opens its doors to Romuald Hazoumè: The Fâ Series. The solo exhibition presents twenty-two large-scale canvas works primarily from the mid-1990s inspired by the artist’s dedicated study of Fâ, a West African divination system.

Fâ is a centuries-old knowledge system and religious practice that originated among Yorùbá-speaking communities in Nigeria, where it is known as Ifá. Its practice has since extended elsewhere in west Africa including the Republic of Benin, where Hazoumè is based, and to the diaspora. A codified system of signs—varied combinations of 16 different symbols–form the basis of the divinatory process, revealing its wisdom and teachings. In 2005, to encourage the ongoing transmission of this literary corpus, Fâ/Ifá was proclaimed Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Hazoumè’s The Fâ Series draws from this visual lexicon, evoking but not revealing sacred knowledge through symbols and glyphs. The body of work is based on the artist’s sustained study of divination practices in Benin and neighboring West African countries and his interest in other symbolic languages in Africa. Created using a combination of acrylic paint, natural pigments and organic materials, the canvases are viewed by Hazoumè not as paintings in a traditional sense but an archive of sacred symbols.

An internationally acclaimed artist who works across media, Hazoumè may be best known for his installations such as La Bouche du Roi, a reworking of the 1789 image of the slave ship Brookes, and his celebrated masques bidons made from discarded gasoline canisters.  The artist, however, considers the Fâ series, the product of an ongoing journey of self-discovery, as his cultural anchor. These intimate and introspective works speak to the knowledge-seeking at the heart of Hazoumè’s artistic practice but have received scant attention to date.

“On a trip to Benin in the Winter of 2018, I was invited to visit the artist’s studio in Porto Novo. There, I was shown many works already known in the US and also introduced to paintings which had, to date, only been shown or illustrated only sporadically,” explained Tracy Fitzpatrick, PhD, Director of the Neuberger Museum of Art. “The Neuberger is proud to be the first museum to focus exclusively on these works that hold such deep personal meaning for the artist and to communicate the significance of this powerful knowledge cosmology to a wider audience.”

Romuald Hazoumè: The Fâ Series is organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art and curated by Christa Clarke, an independent curator and art historian and Senior Advisor at the Center for Curatorial Leadership. The show is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Clarke and Didier Houénoudé, professor of art history at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Benin. The catalogue is the first extensive exploration of this important body of work.

Hazoumè’s work has been exhibited in major museums across the globe. In 2007, he was awarded the Arnold Bode Prize at documenta 12; he has previously participated in biennials in Lyon, Gwangju, and Moscow. Most recently, Hazoumè was selected as one of four artists that will represent the Republic of Benin in its first national pavilion during the next Venice Biennale. The 60th edition of the most prestigious and oldest-running art biennial will take place from April 20th to November 24th, 2024.

Romuald Hazoumè: The Fâ Series will be on view at the Neuberger Museum from September 6 through December 23, 2023. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Wednesday, September 6, beginning at 5:00pm. The artist and guest curator will be present. The event is free and open to the public; advance registration is requested.

The exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Dr. Susan R. Harris in honor of her late husband, Thomas Molnar, a collector of African art and a docent at the Neuberger Museum of Art for over 20 years. Additional funding has been provided by ArtsWestchester, with support from the Westchester County Government; the Milton Rosenthal African Art Endowment; and the Roy. R. Neuberger Legacy Endowment.

Press images available upon request.



The Neuberger Museum of Art opened at the heart of the Purchase College, State University of New York (SUNY) campus in 1974 with a core collection donated by Roy R. Neuberger, one of  the greatest private collectors, philanthropists, and arts advocates of the twentieth century. Today, critically acclaimed exhibitions, tours, lectures, and interactive programs for patrons of all ages make the Neuberger a center of teaching and learning for all stages of life.

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY
735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, New York 10577
914.251.6100  |

Facebook:  @neubergermuseumofart
Twitter and Instagram:  @neubergermuseum

About Neuberger Museum of Art

Art at the Heart of Purchase College The Neuberger Museum of Art is Westchester County’s premier museum of modern, contemporary, and African art and an integral part of Purchase College, SUNY. From the mid-century American art and African art that form the core of the collection to the presentation of about ten changing exhibitions each year that range from retrospectives of the work of one artist to thematic surveys of contemporary art to newly-commissioned artist projects, we continue the commitment of founding patron Roy R. Neuberger (1903-2010) by championing the art of our time. A teaching museum, the Neuberger actively promotes cultural and educational opportunities for the community with special attention to reaching out to the culturally and ethnically diverse population of Westchester County and to targeting new audiences. OPEN: Wed-Sun, 12-5 pm Closed Mondays and major holidays

Initiated in 1974 with Roy R. Neuberger’s donation of 108 works of art, the permanent collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art has grown to over 6000 works of uncompromised quality and variety. Featuring prestigious examples of modern, contemporary and African art, holdings include the Roy R. Neuberger Collection of American Art, the Aimee W. Hirshberg and Lawrence Gussman Collections of African Art, the Hans Richter bequest of Dada and Surrealist objects, the George and Edith Rickey Collection of Constructivist art, and American, Mexican and European master works from the collection of the late Dina and Alexander Racolin. The Neuberger Museum of Art continues to collect and exhibit its permanent collection, enacting Mr. Neuberger’s commitment to supporting the work of contemporary artists who examine and expand the ideas of our day.