It is a real test in times of crisis. The world of modern African art, how does it withstand the current challenges? Nineteen galleries, including a few from Africa, responded – face to face and virtually – to the first Parisian edition of 1-54. It is the largest trade fair for modern African art, but it has remained small enough to adapt to the circumstances and create surprises.
It is not the majestic steps of the Grand Palais, but the small staircase to Christie’s famous auction house, avenue Matignon, that lead us to the present creations of the modern African art scene. It is almost a rejuvenating experience to feel the works ‘lively energy, artists’ envy and flight, openness and willingness to share gallery owners, curiosity among visitors and collectors …
RomeoMive rabbit embodies the effect “wow»From 1-54 in Paris
The raft from Medusa after Eugène Delacroix, a giant fresco on canvas, imagined by RoméoMivekannin, undoubtedly expresses the fair’s “wow” effect, says Touria El Glaoui, founder and director of the fair 1-54, in an interview with rfi.fr. Created in 2021, the modern staging of this scene with a terrible shipwreck is all the more powerful as the Beninese artist has taken the size of the original work and replaced all the unhappy heads with his own face, just like Delacroix who lined up for Géricault. .
This 34-year-old artist has visibly captured the spirit of the times. His monumental works, used plates impregnated with color, are hung on three racks at the same time, including Le Radeau sold by the Cécile Fakhoury Gallery (Abidjan, Dakar, Paris) and Les Amazones (2020) shown for 12,000 euros at the Paris Gallery by Eric Dupont: “A painting made by ‘after a photograph taken at the Jardin d’Acclimatation, where we placed these women, Beninese women fighting against colonization. He painted them again and on each body of these women he put his own face to send us back this terrible story, the one about colonization and slavery …
I did the first show of RomeoMivekannin when he was totally unknown. And there, in two months, his name spread very quickly everywhere, first in the African world and today also in the Western world. “The fact that 1-54 is settling in Paris for the first time does not seem to displease the gallery’s owner. “Paris is partially regaining the place it had lost,” continues Éric Dupont. Brexit must cool something down. We see many famous galleries settling in the French capital. ”
The safe value Chéri Samba, RomualdHazoumé and Ouattara Watts
1-54, established in London before also being deployed in New York and Marrakech, replaced due to the limitations of the pandemic, its Moroccan version with a first in France. Touria El Glaouia was therefore found at Christies (and its 300,000 subscribers online) in Paris. and on the Artsy platform, a face-to-face and virtual solution to keep in touch with the highly coveted African market for modern art in Paris. In this very small issue, the prices vary between 1,500 and 15,000 euros for the vast majority of the works, with a few exceptions, where the prices go up to 50,000 or 70,000 euros for NuBarreto (Galerie Obadia) or Ouattara Watts (Galerie Cécile Fakhouri), without talk about “historical” artists like Chéri Samba, RomualdHazoumé or Kingelez presented at Galerie Magnin-A.
André Magnin, legendary gallery owner, gives us the news of the Congolese Cheri Samba. Thank you thank you. Je suis dans la zone verte (2020) is the name of his new painting, where the artist is in the middle of a kind of giant green vortex, but the gallery owner also shares with us variations on the woman of the Angolan artist Anna Silva. Born in 1979, she practices embroidery on old fabrics. She is one of the artists found in the middle of defining Magnin. “Many African artists give me a ‘like’ on our social network,” says André Magnin. “Then I have to see who it is. So I discovered many artists and we just opened an exhibition. No one could see her on the spot, and yet “We sold four paintings by an artist that was shown for the first time. We sold a lot through the Artsy platform, our social network, Instagram, our newsletter, etc.”
Will the digital revolution take place?
The digital shift is haunting people’s minds, but some and others’ experiences in recent months are very different. Gallery owner Cécile Fakhourya noted that “many collectors no longer come to our galleries in Abidjan or Dakar, but we practice digital sales. For quite some time. Meetings are currently taking place on digital platforms. The pandemic has accelerated things to a more efficient place, showrooms, 3D tours of our exhibitions. But digital is not an end in itself. “
“Our SeventhGallery is based in Paris’ 7. arrondissement. This district usually receives many tourists. For a year, the neighborhood has been empty, there have been almost no visits to the site, admits Léa Perier Loko, director of this very young gallery, which was inaugurated in October 2019. We use as much as possible online, but sales remain anecdotal. 1-54 is a real call for air. It gives us the courage to keep going. ”
“Self-portrait of a limited artist”
She has hung a series that strikes our eye with its simplicity and spontaneity. The self-portrait of a local artist gives us something that has become very rare, a fearless and straightforward encounter with a stranger: “Didier Viodé is an artist of Beninese origin. He studied in Ivory Coast and currently lives in Besançon after joining Beaux-Arts. He loves to mix his origins and his life. For this series, he painted a self-portrait a day during confinement: 64 drawings (price per portrait: 1,500 euros). We are moving from hyperrealism to something much more sensitive. No two characters are alike, but at the same time it feels like coming from the same source. It is an exploration of one’s own person, an introspection required by this confinement. ”
Many works produced since the start of the pandemic exceed the current uncertainty with their sensitivity. To meet our time so distantly and bodylessly, artists appeal to their imagination and their souls, visible using materials and colors.
The artist, artist and artist CristianoMangovo, born in 1982 in Angola, reacts with scary scenes and disturbing colors. Produced in 2020, his series Africa Today gives birth to amazing heads online. “The beautiful colors were always to give hope, to show the dynamics of Africa. But this time, the colors express reality with distorted figures. I’m talking about the history of the colonies. Asia was also colonized by the West as Africa. But Asia has made an effort to get out of colonization. Today it is on an equal footing with the West. And Africa remains colonized because it does nothing. “
Her gallery owner Sonia Ribeiro, director of This Is Not A White Cube, works between Angola and Lisbon. So far, she has postponed the opening date of her new gallery in Lisbon, but she is still confident: “We have found a different kind of closeness to collectors, more personal. I write to them, I call them … “
From Italy, NicolaCernetic, director of LuceGallery in Turin, came to attend a real trade fair in Paris with real meetings: “It’s like a dream. It’s great to be here. This represents great hope for the future; at the same time, during the pandemic, I had the impression that the market for modern art was quite strong. Some have even done better than before. I’m part of it. ”His optimism is also reflected in the very beautiful BlackWoman portrait (2021), presented by his gallery:“ It is a painting by DelphineDesane. The work consists of two pieces, a kind of diptych. The artist is very young, of French-Haitian origin, born in Paris. I started working with her six or seven months ago and next week we are going to arrange her first solo show in Italy. “
Wells of Sense by Nigerian artist Kelani Abass
Perhaps it is Kelani Abass with his delicate obsession with the past who is best able to adapt and transcend our uncertain and elusive period. The 40-year-old artist lives in Lagos, Nigeria. It explores “the bygone era of Nigeria celebrating independence”. His very modest works, barely thirty centimeters and thirty centimeters, turn out to be gigantic wells of meaning. Created in 2020, his Scrap of evidence series brings together real mini-factories of the image. Each piece is at the same time sculpture, photography, painting, print shop and archives, he dissects the different layers of the past to gather memories, rewrite stories and thereby perceive and build the future.
“For him, the idea is really to cross his personal story with Nigeria’s contemporary history,” explains ClémenceHoudart, co-founder of the Paris Gallery 31 Project, inaugurated in 2019. He was very excited to present his first solo show in Europe, but he had to stay in Nigeria . Today, artists are struggling. For that, I realized that the role of gallery owner is important. ”
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►1-54-Paris, contemporary art fair dedicated to modern African art and its diaspora from 20 to 23 January 2021 in face-to-face edition at Christie’s in Paris and until 31 January 2021 in virtual edition on Artistic.