Messou, Ezekiel


Ezekiel Messou
Singer, s.d.
lead pencil and ink on paper
22 x 17,1 cm
Photo : Caroline Smyrliadis, Atelier de numérisation - Ville de Lausanne
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne


Messou, Ezekiel (1971), Benin


Within his sewing machine repair shop, hidden from outsiders, Ezekiel Messou fills his millimeter-squared school notebooks (8.3 in X 5.8 in) with a drawn inventory of sewing machine models. Using a pencil sharpened with a cutter blade, he starts out with light lines, almost dashed and, once the framework is sketched in, he begins pressing down harder. He goes on to draw more confidently executed straight lines using a screwdriver or wrench as a ruler. Next he fills in the surfaces, creating different shades of gray, adding the name of the machine brand he is drawing, or replacing it with his own name or his initials, MJS (?)
A final step is to affix the stamp of his establishment in red or blue ink: Ets qui sait l'Avenir * Réparation des Machines à Coudre * Le Machinistre" [establishment who knows the Future *Sewing Machine Repairs* the Engineer-er]. As Messou puts it, this stamp certifies that he is the author of the composition; it also serves as a sort of copyright: "no one can steal my drawings."

Born in 1971, Ezekiel Messou was not a very applied student. At the age of sixteen, he became a bossy father and left for Nigeria. From 1990 to 1995, he learned to repair sewing machines in Lagos. He chose the mechanics of sewing machines because, in his words, "there are too many fishers, tailors and bricklayers around the lake, whereas no one will know how to do this job."
Today, Messou has two wives and ten children. He runs his own sewing machine repair workshop in Abomey-Calavi, a south Benin prefecture. The Collection de l’Art Brut owns three of his notebooks containing depictions of over 130 sewing machines: with or without pedal board, series number, logo, technical details, model name, etc.


Exhibition(s) at the Art Brut Collection