The artist Pascale Tayous Saturday: ‘I do what my wife asks of me’

Artist Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Saturday/Saturday: comparing packaging in the supermarket and doing as his wife Jo asks him and his son’s basketball game.

IN ‘My Sabbath’ famous or less famous people share what makes their Saturday special.

‘I don’t exist on Saturdays. That day is a home day in function of the others.’ Italian coffee maker Illy presents a new ‘art collection’ at the Asia Now Paris art fair next weekend, coffee cups created by Ghent sculptor, installation and video artist Pascale Marthine Tayou (55). The collection – full of African landscapes, branches and eggs – makes you think about the themes of our time: conflicts, sustainability, globalization, immigration. ‘Am I doing this for the money? Yes of course. And Illy released me. I don’t drink coffee myself, but for many people it’s a ritual.’

Ghent-Cameroon artist Pascale Marthine Tayou designed African-inspired coffee cups for Illy’s ‘art collection’. On Saturdays he prefers to be at home with his family and they share their passion for music.
©Alexander D’Hiet

Who is Pascale Martine Tayou?

  • Lecturer at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris.

Tayou is an internationally recognized autodidact. After his law studies, he began exhibiting his work all over the world. ‘I came to Ghent for the first time in the 1990s at the invitation of the late Jan Hoet. About 15 years ago I bought this studio: a former iron factory that I restored. A few streets away, I live with my partner Jo and our youngest son. ‘Every two years I return to Cameroon, but in my mind I have never left my homeland.’

The Illy coffee cups will be presented next weekend at the Asia Now Paris art fair.
©Alexander D’Hiet

10:00 – ‘I get up, drink a liter of water and eat two pieces of fruit, like every day.’

11:00 – ‘My Saturdays are those of a normal person. I go to Colruyt and the Asian nearby to find the evening menu. My wife always leaves a shopping list. She is in her shop. She is better known than I am with her clothing brand Jo De Visscher. A star! Sometimes I also go to Aldi, Lidl, Carrefour and Delhaize. They all sell the same thing, only the packaging is different. That’s the game: cheap rice can’t be good. I myself am not difficult. I eat like a pig anyway’.

Favorite morning drink: “When I get up, I drink a liter of water.”

1:30 p.m – ‘From the age of ten to eighteen I went to work in the fields on Saturdays, like all the children in Bayangam. Now I only come to my study that day in case of emergency. I don’t want my family to say, “He was never there.” Saturday is home day. I’m not like many other artists. I do what my wife asks me to do and I’m happy about it. Even when I’m travelling, I have the feeling: I have to be home on Saturday. I have a thirty year old son who was born in Africa. He is blacker than me and works at Volvo. I also have two children with Jo. My 19-year-old daughter is a fashion model; she is often in Paris. The youngest son is 17 and still lives at home.’

3 p.m – ‘We listen to music, a common passion. My son and daughter recorded a duet. I myself like jazz, blues, classical and experimental music that no one knows. I have a CD collection and a collection of traditional instruments that I’m already strumming and playing, but mostly used for installations. When I was young, I sold cassettes in Cameroon to make some extra money: music from everywhere, except Flanders and Holland.’


4 p.m – ‘I like to watch KAA Gent, but since my son has played basketball in Youth Gentson, it is rarely possible. He insists that I attend all his matches.’

18.15 – I’m cooking tonight. This time it’s an oriental dish I’ve come to know during my travels: bibimbap, something easy with rice, vegetables, beef and the accompanying sauces. I discovered the dish thirty years ago in South Korea. Bap means meat, bibim is cockroach in my language. Other options: Vietnamese bún bò with beef or chicken and vermicelli. Or fish with rice and peanut sauce from Cameroon.’

Favorite dish: ‘Bibimbap, an easy dish of rice, vegetables and beef that I discovered thirty years ago in South Korea.’

8 p.m – ‘In the family’s cocoon in and around the sofa, I am in contact with the world and with my roots via TV and my phone. We watch African series and soap operas together, such as ‘Madame… Monsieur’, ‘Victims’ and ‘Samba’. You see how everyday life develops there. Even the language changes.’

23.45 – ‘Before I go to sleep, I call the young Cameroonian writer and ‘slam poet’ Ernis – Clémence Lontsi in real life. She is publishing a book soon. I have never met her, but help her with the use of images and copyright. I don’t even exist on Saturdays. That day depends on the others.’

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