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.

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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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The Islamic Treasures of Africa

The Islamic Treasures of Africa

Djenne-Mosque

Djenne Mosque – Mali ©James-Morris

L’Institut du monde Arabe is currently exhibiting The Islamic Treasures of Africa, a show gathering both contemporary and ancient creations from African creators, influenced by islam.

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.

 

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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.

 

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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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Lagos Photo Festival 2016

Lagos Photo Festival 2016

lagos-tsoku-maela-broken-things-family-portrait
Tsoku Maela – Broken Things – Family Portrait

For instance, The Uncanny, a photography serie by the Belgian photographer Leonard Pongo, unveils the everyday life of a group of Congolese people living in the outskirts of the city. Pongo decided not to focus on the country’s poignant upheavals but rather on banality, on rituals taking place everyday. Azu Nwagbogu, curator of the festival intended to elucidate photography’s function as a polysemic object: document, message, record and image, photography’s changing personality has the power to affirm and to be a witness for the upcoming generations, of our current world.

Photography thus “assumes the role of demiurge who has created the world”, and at the same time challenges it by proposing other realities. Juno Calypso’s work A dream in Green shows the naked body of a “green” woman in a mirrored bathroom, the provocative posture of the woman and the odd colour of her skin could question femininity. Jenevieve Akin’s work titled Great Expectations, name of the eponym book by the British author Jane Austen, portraitures another woman wearing a bride’s dress. These photographs might refer to the importance of marriage and the meaning behind this uniting act nowadays. The model is shown in the kitchen and the conjugal room, both places confining and isolating her from the outside world.

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Mila Autio – 4 set of diptychs printed 70 cm tall

Moreover, fashion appears as an identity asset; patterns, flashy colours and forms are representative of Africa’s cultural heritage. Ishola Akpo, Bruno Morais and Flurina Rothenberg among other photographer’s works bear witness on African’s inventiveness on this particular field. Nevertheless, identity is explored as a global issue within the work of South African artist Gideon Mendel. His series Submerged depicts the threat of floods in countries like Brazil, the United States, Pakistan and more.

lagos-the-department-afrocorrectional

Lagos Photo Festival underlines photography’s perennial position as a memory keeper and costumes perpetrator of contemporary societies, a cognitive tool permitting the viewer to look carefully and hence to understand from another angle.

 

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El Anatsui to receive honorary doctorate from Harvard

El Anatsui to receive honorary doctorate from Harvard

breaking_news-2

The 72 year-old Ghana-born artist had a career as a professor of sculpture at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka for 40 years before his retirement back in 2011. El Anatsui is a well-celebrated sculptural installation master is known for his work with raw materials like wood, clay, metal, and more recently recycling metal caps of liquor bottles to create undulating, mesmerising pieces that are free from the original form of the materials. The sculptor’s work allows a great deal of freedom in the form of how they are presented.

His overwhelming success is echoed worldwide and his market-leading track record at auctions in Arthouse, Bonhams, Christies, Phillips, Sotheby’s and Strauss & Co.

Alongside the Ghanaian master were Oscar winning film director Steven Spielberg, the former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, history professor David Davis, biochemist Elaine Fuchs, philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson, civil rights activist mary Bonauto, humanities professor Arnold Rampersad, and cosmologist the right honourable Lord Martin Rees. El Anatsui’s work was first shown in 1974 at the Tekarts Expo 5 in Accra, Ghana. His extensive body of work can now be found in international public collections, including, amongst others, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, British Museum, London and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

In April 2015, Anatsui was honoured with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award at the Venice Biennale. His overwhelming success is echoed worldwide and his market-leading track record at auctions in Arthouse, Bonhams, Christies, Phillips, Sotheby’s and Strauss & Co. is consistently remarkable. In the recent African Now auction at Bonhams on 25 May 2016, El Anatsui’s Used Towel was sold at an incredible amount, fetching for £176,500 (originally estimated at £50,000-80,000). This sale has established a new record at auction for a wooden sculpture by the artist.

This honorary doctorate degree from Harvard is yet another well-deserved award in the seminal artist’s shiny arsenal.