Hazoumè, Romuald b.1962  / Taillonné
about this work

As with so many of Romuald Hazoumè’s works, understanding the chosen title is central to a proper appreciation of the meaning of the work, as is the case with this 2015 ‘masque bidon’ portrait, Taillonné. The title itself is a nonce word, which Hazoumè has created by combining two unrelated words in French – the verb tailler – to cut, trim, reduce and its associated noun la taille – size, length, height and the common noun le talon meaning heel. The word heel assumes primary significance given that the coiffeur of the individual portrayed is composed of recuperated heels, presumably lost or broken off from fashionable women’s shoes.
Hazoumè creates his portmanteau word, combining these several root senses to include a series of associated suggestions. The word ‘taillonné’ operates adjectivally, in the manner of the equivalent word ‘tallonné,’ which in English would mean ‘heeled’ e.g. in the phrase ‘to be well heeled.’ It should be noted that the singular ‘é’ that finishes the word, indicates that the adjective refers to a masculine subject. By injecting the senses of ‘taille’ (height) and ‘tailler’ (to trim, as in tailler la hauteur d’un individu - to cut someone down to size) Hazoumè is suggesting various characteristics of the personality of the individual thus portrayed.
Women generally wear high heels to increase their stature, making themselves appear more attractive to their taller male companions. In most cases, for men to wear high-heeled shoes would not be considered appropriate, yet men of diminutive stature also use various ploys to appear taller and render themselves more imposing. The paradoxical image of a man who tries to increase his ‘height’ and overall presence by adding women’s heels to his modish hair-do suggests a rather camp man for whom appearances – even if outré – are everything. The genius of the French language makes it impossible to render these subtle word-plays exactly into English. However, Hazoumè is, perhaps, drolly suggesting that this curious mask portrays something of a man who’s ‘All dressed up like a low-cut heel!’

Romuald Hazoumè (b.1962 , Benin)

Taillonné, 2015

Found objects
1 Piece: 35 x 24 x 15 cm.
1 Piece: 13 3/4 x 9 7/16 x 5 7/8 in.
October Gallery, London, UK Current Location:
Switzerland - Basel - S Mixed Media Wall WorkAfrica

Artwork History
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related works / Romuald Hazoumè / Africa / Mixed Media Wall Work