“The African breeze is blowing on our souls – Un air d’Afrique Souffle sur nos âmes” is what you read on one of the banners of the installation by Madagascan artist Joël Andrianomearisoa. His artwork is exhibited at Africa Now, at Galeries Lafayette.
In my humble opinion this sentence perfectly sums up this Africa branded art week in Paris, given that several French institutions have decided to commit their spring-summer cultural programs to the old continent.
Juggling in the chaos of vernissages was not an easy test as usual, but we passed it cum laude and lots of champagne. And art, of course.
We began our tour March 27th with the exhibition Le jour qui vient, a group show curated by Marie-Ann Yemsi. She presented a new generation of artists who tell their vision of the future in a constantly evolving world through their work. They are Igshaan Adams, Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Clay Apenouvon, Yesmine Ben Khelil, Julien Creuzet, Frances Goodman, Bronwyn Katz, Lebohang Kganye, Banele Khoza, Lawrence Lemaoana, Mónica de Miranda, Turiya Magadlela, Mohau Modisakeng, Emeka Ogboh and Moffat Takadiwa.
In the framework of the second edition of the festival 100% Afriques, Cameroonian curator Simon Njami decided to celebrate African metropoles with the exhibition Afrique Capitales. Inaugurated on March 28th the art show was attended by many artists, curators and art agitateurs from all over the world. Njami brought around sixty artists from Africa and the diaspora, including Tayou, William Kentridge, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny, Godfried Donkor, Leïla Alaoui, Myriam Mihindou, Emo de Medeiros, Lavar Munroe, Safaa Mazirh, Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Hassan Hajjaj and Abdoulaye Konate.
The contemporary art fair Art Paris Art Fair with a focus on Africa Guest of Honour was held in the prestigious venue Grand Palais. From March 30th to April 2nd, the historic building hosted 139 galleries hailing from 29 countries. On display were works by emerging artists at an affordable price compared to those of FIAC, considered the “older sibling” of Art Paris Art Fair. It was a great opportunity to discover or re-discover works by artists such as Namsa Leuba, Romuald Hazoumè, Isaac Mondele, Patrick J. Tatcheda Yonkeu, Benohoud Hicham El Anatsui, Mario Macilau, Wahib Chehata, Alexis Peskine, Boris Nzebo and Mohau Modisakeng – the latter will represent South Africa at the next Venice Biennale.
Through Africa Guest of Honour, indipendent curator Marie-Ann Yemsi wanted to deconstruct the long-lasting idea of an exotic Africa. But not everyone liked this vision of Africa as a guest of the European art scene. In fact, during the closing party of this African week chez club Colonie, while dancing on the rhythms of West African sounds, Emeka Kupeski Okereke – founder of Invisible Borders – told me: “I found this idea of Africa being a guest of honour at the Art Paris Art Fair very problematic, because we are not guests in Europe, least of all in France. We fought the wars, we died for them, we influenced the European and French culture so much that you can have a complete African experience in Paris. I think this whole idea of Africa as a guest of honour is pushing Africa to the otherness again. It’s like when they say ‘Africa is the Future’. I think it’s a very abusive expression. I don’t know if Africa is the future. Africa is the present. Africa is the past. So I think we should not postpone our narrative into the future. We are in the present. We are here. We are doing things.”
Meanwhile, a few months before the presidential elections Marine Le Pen is rising in the polls…
Where and when | Galeries Lafayette
March 28 – June 10
Festival 100% Afriques
Where and when | La Villette
March 29 – April 31
26€ – Students <26 years, 15 € – children <12 years, 10 €
Exhibition | 8 € – Students < 26 year, 5 €
Trésors de l’islam en Afrique
Where and when | Institut du Monde Arabe
April 14 – July 30 luglio
12 € / 10 € – < 26 anni, 6 €
Jean Pigozzi collection + two exhibitions: Être là e Les initiès
Where and when | Fondation Louis Vuitton
April 28 – August 28 agosto
Featured Image | Brice e Regis Abby | Artwork – Untitled 19 & 20 from the series Inequalities (2016), Turiya Magadlela All Images | (c) Janine Gaelle Dieudji