Previous Next

Jean-Jacques Efiaimbelo

C. 1925 - 2001, Androka, Mahafaly Land, Madagascar
Lived and worked in Androka, Madagascar.

Working in Southwestern Madagascar, Efiaimbelo is deeply rooted in the Mahafaly culture of his ancestors. The origins of the art and funerary rites of Mahafaly society go back to the early sixteenth century when the royal Maroserana clans settled in Mahafaly country. Their traditional art—funerary steles called aloalos that serve as grave markers at tomb sites—is considered the most prestigious of the island, and has been transmitted from father to son, since the times of Soroboka, a forbear of Efiaimbelo’s. Aloalos are planted in a square pattern around the three-dimensional rectangle of stones that makes up the tomb’s superstructure. They represent particular memories of the deceased for whom the aloalo was erected, as well as reminders of a particular era.

Efiaimbelo both honors and extends the ritual of the aloalos. One of the first sculptors to have painted aloalos for decorative purposes only, Efiaimbelo has also introduced acrylic colours and new imagery into the genre. Typical of the traditional aloalos, Efiaimbelo creates carved posts of hardwood (Mendorave), roughly seven feet in height. Depending on the different interpretations of the Mahafalaly myths and legends, varying meanings are given to the conventional motifs which decorate the support as well as to the figures on the tableaux on top. The lower part can be described as a succession of stacked figure eights (the number for abundance and a symbol for the full moon), which are alternately abstract and geometrical. On top of the post is a more representational scene, usually a zebu and his herdsman. (The zebu, humped cattle, are a symbol of wealth; a child is similarly a sign of prosperity). As a result of his deep ties to a Westerner who is inducted as Avisoa (The Welcome One) by Soroboka (Efiaimbelo’s forbear) into his Temaromainte clan, Efiaimbelo has modified the traditional tableaux: cattle thieves, bush-taxis, wrestlers, airplanes, motorcycles, tales of healing, fantastic legends, and personal anecdotes animate his repertory. Aloalos honour the dead, but also assert life. Through his sophistication and resourcefulness, Efiaimbelo has continued and developed this vital art.


Aloalo "Mahafaly sculptures of the Efiaimbelos", Galerie Perrotin, Paris France


Madagascar, Arts de la Grande Île, Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, Paris, France

Africa / Africa, Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France

Art Paris, Just Art! Grand Palais, Paris, France

African Stories
Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech

2009 - 2010
Africa? Una nuova storia
Complesso del Vittoriano, Roma, Italy

100% Africa
Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao, Spain

Arts of Africa
Grimaldi Forum
Monaco - France

African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Museum of Fine Art Houston
Houston - USA

Je m’installe aux abattoirs
La collection d’art contemporain d’agnès b.
Les Abattoirs
Toulouse, France

Sculpture 2003
Ray Hughes Gallery
Sydney - Australia

La Piste des Totems dans le cadre de la manifestion « Trésors d’Afrique »
Foire Internationale de Boredaux
Bordeaux – France

Diadji Diop, Efiambelo, Alain Séchas
Galerie Perrotin, Paris

(travelling exhibition)
Otro país: escalas africanas

* November 15, 1994-January 15, 1995
Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno
Las Palmas, Spain
* February 15-April 16, 1995
Fundacion La Caixa
Palma de Mallorca. Spain
* May-September, 1995
Palau de la Virreina
Barcelona, Spain

La Grande VŽritŽ, les Astres Africains
Fine Arts Museum.
Nantes, France.

Out of Africa
Saatchi Gallery.
London, Great Britain.

Africa Hoy / Africa Now
Atlantic Center of Modern Art, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
Groningen Museum,
Groningen, Netherland.
Contemporary Art Cultural Center.
Mexico City, Mexico.

Magiciens de la Terre
Georges Pompidou Center, Grande Halle de la Villette.
Paris, France.


Contemporary African Art
Sidney Littlefield Kasfir
Collection World of Art (2nd Edition), Thames&Hudson, London

100% Africa
Exhibition catalogue. Published by TF Editores & FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.

Otro país: escalas africanas
Exhibition catalogue by Simon Njami and Joëlle Busca.

Madagascar -Memorial Arts, Efiaimbelo by Monica Blackmun Vison.
BookÝ: A History of Art in Africa. Text in English.
Edited by Prentice Hall & Abraams.

"Contemporary Art of Africa ".
Efiaimbelo by Paul Rabibisoa Ravoy.
Edited by AndrŽ Magnin and Jacques Soulillou. Text in English.
Published by Harry N. Abraams.

La Grande VŽritŽ, Les Astres Africains, Efiaimbelo by Paul Rabibisoa Ravoy
Edited by The Fine Arts Museum Nantes. Text in French.

Afrikanische Kunst heute book
Text by A. Magnin p.165, Efiaimbelo p.257 - p.258.

"Magiciens de la Terre ". Efiaimbelo by Jacques Lombard.
Editions Georges Pompidou Center. Text in French.