Africa : Guest of Honour at the Photo Festival La Gacilly

Africa : Guest of Honour at the Photo Festival La Gacilly

A man walks on a pedestrian bridge overlooking traffic in Lagos, Nigeria, September 18, 2006. The Africities 4 summit aimed at tackling the problems of the continent's expanding cities and huge slums opened on Monday in Nairobi. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA) - RTR1HGS1

A man walks on a pedestrian bridge overlooking traffic in Lagos, Nigeria, September 18, 2006. The Africities 4 summit aimed at tackling the problems of the continent’s expanding cities and huge slums opened on Monday in Nairobi. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA) – RTR1HGS1

Highlighting the importance that has gained African photography in the art market, the festival intends not only to shed light on the primary figures of the discipline such as Malick Sidibé, Omar Victor Diop or Seydou Keïta – well known figures – but to bring center stage lesser known photographers like Jean Depara, photographer who recorded the Congolese youth, or James Barnor, Ghanaian photographer, the first to switch from black and white to colour film. Photography has a particular position in African history for it testified the continent’s revolutions and independence movements contributing to the creation of identities. Photography didn’t freed this countries from the colonial yoke, nevertheless it helped them to establish their own history as well as to take control of their image.

Linked directly to the first part of the festival, Man and Beast explores human’s relation to endangered species. Africa, the continent per excellence where animal wildlife hasn’t completely disappeared, illustrates the conflictive relation between us and our surroundings. Have we failed to relate to the rest of the world? Has our thirst of power annihilated the future of other species? Such are the questions posed by the festival who, despite the of the subject’s negativity focuses as well on the shifting mores of the general public showing more compassion towards the animal kingdom.

Aside from the explicit photos poached rhinoceros, the festival exhibits rare photos taken by the great French poet Arthur Rimbaud who upon quitting to write travelled to Africa and photographed what he saw. The festival revisits once more Africa’s history and rewrites it showing a restored image of this mythical place.

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Peju Alatise

Peju Alatise is an interdisciplinary artist, architect and author of two novels. The Nigerian artist, born in 1975, draws on the manifold cultural meaning of the national costume in both literal and symbolic terms. This is the basis for her artistic investigation into the significance and essence of womanhood. Alatise often weaves her artistic creations into her literary discourse on the advocacy campaign, ‘Child Not Bride’. Her success with her novels and writing is accompanied by a growing support from the art market. In 2015, Alatise’s High Horses triptych has made a great sale and has broken her personal record at the ‘Africa Now’ auction in Bonhams London. Her work Missing is her poignant polemic against the on-going problem of sex trafficking in Nigeria. Her work was first exhibited at the Nike Art Gallery in Lagos under the title “Material Witness” in 2012. The artist is regularly participating in international exhibitions and art fairs across the African continent and beyond.

Peju-AlatiseThe Unconsious Struggle

The Unconscious Struggle, 2012, mixed media 254 x 152.5 cm – © Peju Alatise

Kudzanai Chihurai

Kudzanai Chiurai is an internationally acclaimed young artist from Zimbabwe. Born in 1981, the artist was exiled from his home country after producing an unflattering portrait of the President of Zimbabwe. He now works and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chiurai’s work is a mixture of digital photography, editing and printing, painting and film. He is the first black student to receive a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. His caustic, theatrical multimedia compositions address the most pertinent issues that his generation faces in Austral Africa, from government corruption to xenophobia and displacement. Chiurai has participated in numerous local and international exhibitions ever since his first solo exhibition in 2003 in the Brixton Art Gallery, London. Most recently, his work has been exhibited in “Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and ‘Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now’ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which has also acquired Chiurai’s work for their collection.

Chihurai-The-English-Garden

Untitled (The English Garden), 2013, Oil and enamel on canvas, 222 x 180 x 5 cm

Pierre-Christophe Gam

Pierre-Christophe Gam is a French pluridisciplinary artist born in 1983 and raised in Chantilly, France. He studied architecture at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and art direction at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London where he now lives and works. Inspired by his Egyptian, Chadian and Cameroonian heritage, his work combines design, photography and digital manipulation, creating an heteroclite palette of images where he explores identity, post-colonialism, globalization and power. In 2013, Gam founded AfroPolis, a cultural platform that through exhibitions and talks analyses Africa’s position on an international scale. His work was part of the exhibition “Making Africa” at the Vitra Museum in Germany and travelled to the Guggenheim Bilbao this year.

GAM-The-Affogbolo-green

The Affogbolo, Her Pink, 2015, C-print mounted on aluminium, 40 x 40 cm Edition of 5.

Maïmouna Guerresi

Maïmouna Guerresi is an interdisciplinary artist mostly known for her mythical portraits. Born in 1951 in Italy, Guerresi is now based in Dakar, Senegal while travelling to Italy occasionally. Her work is not only limited to photography, she is also a sculptor and a video and installation artist. She is inspired by the 1970’s Body Art movement with conceptual experiment as basis for most of her work. During her travels in several African countries in 1991, Guerresi had a change in identity and direction with regards to her work and started to focus on themes of multicultural symbolism and feminine spirituality. For over twenty years, Guerresi’s work has been about empowering women and encouraging appreciation of humanity and the human body in the African cultural context. Guerresi fashions the costume in the portraits from fabrics she has gathered from travelling around Africa, and the photographs are shot against a wall outside her house in Dakar, Senegal. Guerresi participated at the Venice Biennale in 1982, the Biennale was curated by Tommaso Trini. Her work is now exhibited across the globe, including France, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Mali, and the United States.

Maïmouna Guerresi-TALIBY-

Taliby, 2010, Lambda Print, triptych, Lambda Print

Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu, born in 1970, is a painter who does large-scale, gestural paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas, then marked with pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. The Ethiopian-born artist now lives in New York and travels between the United States and Berlin, Germany. Having spent her formative years at the University Cheik Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, Mehretu is extremely involved in the artistic education of the new generation in Africa. In 2003, the artist worked with 30 young girls from East Africa during her residency at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, US. In 2015, she was honoured with the United States State Department’s ‘National Medal of Arts’. Mehretu had her first exhibition in 1995 in “Ancestral Reflections” in the United States. One of the artist’s most widely known works is the 80-foot-wide mural in the Goldman Sachs tower titled Mural. Her pieces are shown in worldwide art fairs and exhibitions, and they are publicly accessible in museums across the globe including in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

 

 

Julie-Mehretu-Heavier-than-air

Heavier than air (written form), 2014, Ink and acrylic on canvas, 122 x 183 cm.

 

Athi Patra-Ruga

Athi-Patra Ruga was born in 1984 in Umtata, South Africa and is a multidisciplinary artist who constantly questions and confronts politics and ideologies through vivid colours and colourful installations as well as performances. His works are impregnated by eclectic references in which gender, humour and eroticism meet, creating a hybrid body of constructions. His first exhibition was in 2004 in South Africa. He currently works and lives between Capetown and Johannesburg. Moreover, his work is part of the Pigozzi Collection, the IZIKO South African National Gallery, Museion in Italy and the Wedge Collection.

Athi-Patra-Ruga-MISS-AZANIA-2019

Miss Azania, 2019, 2015, archival inkjet print on Photorag Baryta, 150 x 190 cm, edition of 10. Photographer: Hayden Phipps –

Yinka Shonibare Mbe

Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in London, UK in 1962, but his family moved to Lagos, Nigeria when he was three. Shonibare is known for his colonial and post-colonial themes within the contemporary context of globalisation through different media including painting, sculpture, photography, film and performance. He now lives and works in London, UK. The artist was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, and was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the same year. In 2010, for the first time, he was commissioned to create Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, which is on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Shonibare’s first solo exhibition was in 1989 at the Byam Shaw Gallery and the Bedford Hill Gallery in London. His work is included in many public collections and museums in the UK, the US, Canada, Israel, Italy, Monaco and Sweden.

SHONIBARE_Butterfly_Kid2015

 

 

Butterfly Kid (boy), 2015, Fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, silk, metal, globe, leather and steel baseplate, 127 x 75 x 88 cm.
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African Rebirth

African Rebirth

Abu Bakarr Mansaray (1970, Sierra Leone) Allien Resurrection [sic], 2004 Graphique, colored pencils, feutre on paper, 150 x 205 cm - Framed : 160,6 x 212,5 x 4 cm Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection

Abu Bakarr Mansaray (1970, Sierra Leone) Allien Resurrection [sic], 2004 Graphique, colored pencils, feutre on paper, 150 x 205 cm Framed : 160,6 x 212,5 x 4 cm – Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection

The exhibition Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier constituted of 3 main sections retraces Africa’s grandiose landscape and future in the contemporary art world. The first part titled “Les initiés”” showcases works from the private collection of the mythical collector Jean Pigozzi, a philanthropist who since the late 80’s saw the power of African art and chose to impulse the nascent scene. With the help of André Magnin, curator of the exhibition Les Magiciens de la Terre at the Pompidou Centre in 1989, he created an exhaustive collection from African artists living and working within the confines of the continent. Among the 15 artists selected from his collection, names such as Malick Sidibé, Romuald Hazoumé, Seni Awa Camara or Okhai Ojeikere are testimony of André Magnin’s visionary perception and his close relation to African artists.

Kudzanai Chiurai, Revelations V, 2011, ink Ultrachrome on paper, photo Innova, Image : 120 x 180 cm | Sheet : 145 x 200 cm. © Kudzanai Chiurai. Courtesy of the Artist & Goodman Gallery Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Kudzanai Chiurai, Revelations V, 2011, ink Ultrachrome on paper, photo Innova, Image : 120 x 180 cm | Sheet : 145 x 200 cm. © Kudzanai Chiurai. Courtesy of the Artist & Goodman Gallery Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The next section, which includes galeries 4,5,6 and 7, “Être là” is exclusively devoted to South African contemporary art. Contrasting with the the continent’s history, South Africa has always had its own identity and costumes. Propelled by institutions as well as galleries and collectors, the country’s contemporary art scene is already strong and cemented. Referent figures such as William Kentridge, Sue Williamson and David Goldblatt bear witness of the country’s progression over the years. Nevertheless, a new generation post apartheid is to be found in the exhibit, artwork from Athi Patra Ruga, Jody Brand, Lawrence Lemaoana, Kudzanai Chiurai amid others testify of the new South African identity where multiculturalism and globalisation mark them.

Ear Splitting-Hazoume

Romuald Hazoumè (Bénin, 1962), Ear Splitting, 1999
plastic jerrycan, brush, spekers, 42 x 22 x 16 cm
Courtesy CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection –
© ADAGP, Paris 2017 – Photo Credits : © Maurice Aeschimann

Finally, the last “volet” exhibits a selection of artworks from the Louis Vuitton collection. From Kentridge, to Omar Victor Diop, Wangechi Mutu, Meschac Gaba, Barthélémy Toguo and more this last stage confirms Africa’s fecund ecosystem aiding to create a new chapter in the whole continent’s history.

In the Spring of 2016, ArtPremium dedicated an issue to the rise and flourishing of this region, the exhibition thus comes to confirm African contemporary art’s power and its imminent growth in the art market.

Siwani, Qunusa_ Buhle 2

Buhlebezwe Siwani, Qunusa! Buhle, 2015,
Ink jet print on 
Hahnemuhle PhotoRag, 111.8 x 55.4 cm,
courtesy Of the Artist & Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town.
© Buhlebezwe Siwani

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Djenne-Mosque

Djenne Mosque – Mali ©James-Morris

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The idea behind the eclectic election of artworks was to underline and connect the past and the present to create a coherent African islamic history, written by its inhabitants rather than the colons. As a hub reuniting several cults and ideologies, Africa witnessed the rise of sufism, a branch of islam where love and poetry are center stage. Reinterpreted by artist Maimouna Guerresi’s work, her photography, with its vibrant colours and contrast, stresses on the spiritual tradition of islam.

Minarets, mosques, madrasas and other architectonic structures testify of islam’s importance in the continent. While in the surface we could be tempted to think of orthodox ritualistic practices, the exhibition proves otherwise for much of the animistic beliefs melted with islam creating thus a religion on its own, detached from the sufi’s radical roots. In Ivory Coast, some masks from ancient rituals were utilised, the syncretism gave birth to a particular islam incorporating local beliefs. Magic is the additive giving another meaning to islam.

Contemporary artists, rendering homage to artisanal practices employ old techniques refreshing them. Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté for instance presents a work denouncing the political situation in his homeland, where an extremist group has submerged the country in a civil war. Finally, the arabic calligraphy with its inherent beauty demystifies the assumption stating that African cultures have a rather oral tradition. Some manuscripts are showcased in the exhibition rooms unveiling centuries of African islamic history. Contemporary artist Babacar Diouf recreates in his work the arabic calligraphy while he creates a new language. Taking a parcel of tradition and adding his own codes, he alters arabic converting it into an aesthetic.

The scenography is incredibly well adjusted urging the spectator to look for them even in the ceiling. The light as well enables us to neatly see even the slightest details of every piece presented at the exhibition: it is clear to us, the exhibition endeavour is to give a positive image of islam and prove that it was an ignitor in Africa.

 

Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Deeply Rooted

Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Deeply Rooted

Sindika Dokolo

 

Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese businessman and art enthusiast, acquired one of the most important contemporary African art collections from the late German business tycoon, Hans Bogatzke back in 2005. Based in Angola, Dokolo and his procurement have gained an overnight sensation from the public and the media since the end of the country’s civil war about three years ago. Amassing over 5000 pieces of invaluable African art, Dokolo has now become one of the symbols for repatriation in the history of art in Africa.

Dokolo is very aware of the significance behind all this media attention, both from within the country and from the rest of the world. These art pieces in his collection are not just decorations for the domestic setting, they are a beacon of hope for redefining “Africanity” amidst the deafening Eurocentric perspectives on the continent and its artistic creations. ‘[You see] every other exhibition telling you what Africa is and [what is] the real Africa. There is always this self-justification, this attitude, which I think is very counter-productive,’ argues the collector. Therefore, Dokolo establishes the eponymous not-for-profit foundation enabling the Angolan public to respond to their creation and to start organising their view of the world of art.

 

Samuel Fosso_Le_Drapeau_

Samuel Fosso, Series “Emperor of Africa”, 2013 – “SFEA 1949” 166 x 124 cm

 

Dokolo’s collection of contemporary art includes over 80 African artists as well as those from its Diaspora. The collection holds artworks ranging from the video projection Felix in Exile (1994) by William Kentridge and self-portraits Emperor of Africa (2013) by Samuel Fosso to conceptual works by Kendell Geers and the installation work Thirteen Hours (2013) by the emerging Angolan artist Binelde Hyrcan. It covers the artistic expressions all around the continent, from the north of Egypt to the south of South Africa. Dokolo creates an interaction and a dialogue between different aesthetics of our contemporary time.

Amassing over 5000 pieces of invaluable African art, Dokolo has now become one of the symbols for repatriation in the history of art in Africa.

‘My main focus is actually to manage to have a very dynamic artistic and cultural life with no infrastructure. It has been a sort of blessing in that we do not have any contemporary art museums because we [then] have to revisit the way people engage with art and culture in an urban environment.’ One of the missions the collector aims to achieve with his foundation is to remodel the falsified bourgeois value of art into a public commodity. Currently, the Sindika Dokolo Foundation is working on a project, using marketing and publicity strategies, putting up dozens upon dozens of street advertisement of the artworks, to get the general public engaged with art in an ‘involuntary, unconscious and natural way’. Dokolo and his team are also working with local schools to coordinate guided visits to travelling exhibitions. Ever since the initiation of this programme, 50,000 children have been enrolled and this year, Dokolo hopes to reach an audience of 100,000 children in his education of African contemporary art.

 

wangechi-mutu_youlovemeyoulovemenot_2007-2
Wangechi Mutu, “You Love me You Love Me No”, 2013, mixed media / collage on paper, diptych

 

The Sindika Dokolo Foundation is a safe haven for empowerment of future generations of Africans by providing them with the knowledge to participate in their own cultural history. Throughout the years with his collection and the foundation, Dokolo notices the ‘baby boom of creativity’, a proliferation in artistic expression in Angola in recent years. He is especially involved with local Angolan artists. He finds that ‘it is a socialist government but there was always a kind of depth in the Angolan culture’ giving Angola’s local artistic language an ‘inner life and sensitivity in emotion’. Dokolo has witnessed many artists come and go in his foundation and now, he shares his views on the integration of African contemporary artists in the international circuits of art like a wise man reciting a fable. ‘I think the right reflex is to come back to Angola and work some more, work to build their careers from the inside out. I think that guarantees some consistency and some prudence also when they approach the international market.’

Behind the Sindika Dokolo Foundation is an ideology to repatriate the rights to the continent to paint an accurate portrait of African art in our contemporary time. There is a synergy between his collection and his audience, Dokolo encourages authentic creation through his collection and at the same time, he is inspired by this creativity to further experiment with his foundation.

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Set Zeitz in Cape Town

Set Zeitz in Cape Town

Zeitz MOCAA is the accumulation of sponsorship, connoisseurship and commitment from both the profit corporate sector and the not-for-profit cultural sector. This prodigy of a project began with a phone call in 2013 from the South African property agency, the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront Group, to the Cape Town native and international art curator, Mark Coetzee. Contrary to the norms of the usual ten-year campaigns prior to museum construction, the historic Grain Silo land was ready to break ground even before soliciting Coetzee partnership to build Africa’s first major museum dedicated to contemporary art

80 art galleries and 6 institutions housed in the Museum

There, in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, will majestically sit Zeitz MOCAA in all its nine-floor, 9,500-square-meter grandeur. Designed by the British architect Thomas Heatherwick, the structure of the Museum will house 80 galleries and 6 independent institutes. This not-for-profit institution will prove to be not only an important landmark for the iconic city, but also a place of education for all art lovers from the continent and beyond. The establishment is thus a testament to a community with a growing commitment towards its local artists and artworks and is to be respected as an integral part of a global dialogue.

Mark Coetzee’s dazzling resume in the art world is definitely what prompted the V&A Waterfront Group’s to recruit him for this project. He has developed a shrewd business acumen as the director of the PUMA foundation, PUMAVision, giving him the proficiency to communicate fluently with the corporate world. In 2009, alongside the German businessman Jochen Zeitz, they started together an impressive contemporary African art collection.

Prior to that, Coetzee was the director of the Rubell Family Collection and the not-for-profit educational foundation in the Wynwood Art District in Miami. The seasoned curator describes his profession as personal and intimate. ‘I think your personality defines your approach. You are what you do.’ The story of growing up in South Africa, at the height of an international cultural boycott, tells a tale of a lack of public institutions that demonstrate contemporary art practices through lectures, which in turn, disengages the theoretical and the practical. Coetzee is part of a generation that is now going to great lengths to restore what was once absent in their childhood, the possibility to educate the next generation, and to place value on the current artistic production in Africa.Zeitz MOCAA is therefore, the physical extension of this communal dream. Having pioneered the ‘Miami Model’, which joins the functions of private art collections and public foundation, Coetzee is taking his work further with the Museum, filling the gaps for artists and their artworks, by giving them access to a public that is part of their history. Visitors of the Museum will see seminal works from the 21st century in the African context including the Arsenal dragon Iimpundulu Zonke Ziyandilandela (All the Lightning Birds Are After Me) (2011) by Nicholas Hlobo and the entire collection by Kudzanai Chiurai shown in the dOCUMENTA (13).

The Museum is named in honour of one of its first contributors, Jochen Zeitz, who is continuing to support its acquisition budget for new works. The collector’s private collection, the Zeitz Collection, will be inaugurating the opening of the MOCAA as its founding collection. Founded in 2002, the Zeitz Collection has cemented its position as the most representative collection of contemporary art from the African continent and its Diaspora since 2008. The Collection is a wealthy reservoir of works by Sue Williamson, Chris Ofili, Marlene Dumas, Kudzanai Chiurai, Penny Siopis, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, Jane Alexander, Kehinde Wiley, Godfried Donker, Hank Willis Thomas and others. It is ambitious in its acquisition of works that are of museum quality, both in their technical ability and in their scale.

Cyrus Kabirum, 2014

The Collection holds over 70 works by the Swazi sculptor Nandipha Mntambo and has acquired 85 works at the 2013 Venice Biennale, including the Golden Lion, the award-winning installation in the Angola pavilion by artist Edson Chagas, a series of photographs by Zanele Muholi in the South Africa pavilion, and three large sculptures by Michele Mathison in the Zimbabwe pavilion. Zeitz MOCAA will continue to carry the torch set by the example of the Zeitz Collection in its future acquisitions. The founding of Zeitz MOCAA is an extraordinary phenomenon, bringing the once-considered periphery practice into the central dialogue. It intends to jostle the status quo, proclaiming the invalidity of a hierarchical system in the art world where culture, history, and connoisseurship happen elsewhere. This is the pivotal point in order for Cape Town to become an international contemporary art destination.

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