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The role of foundations in the development of the contemporary African scene

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

The interest for contemporary creation in Europe has intensified for several years. In 1989, at the Center Pompidou and La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, "Les Magiciens de la Terre" [Magicians of the Earth] is the first exhibition of contemporary art in France with African artists. Since then, contemporary art has not stopped to gain importance in Europe and some artists are now recognized internationally.

 

"Magicien de la Terre" exhibition poster  - Paris 1989

 

Even though access to major artistic institutions remains limited to sub-Saharan African artists, exhibiting in the West seems to be the guarantee of an international fame, a promoted works and getting the collectors. The art market is little developed in Africa, and Europe is a true springboard for the artists. However, some European states have responded to the needs of cultural institutions, in permanent search of funds. Faced with this, private initiatives are multiplying. More and more foundations are investing in highlighting contemporary African art, using their resources to encourage their development and facilitate their recognition to the public. Whether in Europe or in Africa, these foundations developed various approaches to make the creation shine.

In France, one of the challenges is to offer contemporary African artists a more important place on the market. The Jean-Paul Blachère corporate foundation has been involved in their promotion and recognition of their art since 2004. It discovers and accompanies new talents. The setting up of an artists' residence gives the possibility to visual artists to work with the materials provided by the company Blachère Illumination, specialized in the luminous decorations. This is to give contemporary African art a place on the international market.

Zinsou Fondation in Ouidah (Benin)

 

Faced with the affirmation of artists beyond the African continent, it is now essential to exhibit their creations on their native land, in order to promote their local recognition. In this issue, the Zinsou Foundation plays a key role. Founded in 2015 in Cotonou, Benin, it carries out pedagogical, cultural and social actions in order to highlight the creation, to promote the artists and to favor the access of the local population to the culture. In 2013, the Zinsou Foundation Museum is the first museum of African contemporary art to appear on the continent. The foundation enjoys an international reputation, which testifies to its major importance. She embodies contemporary African creation, and places the continent in the rank of actor of the world of art.

 

Written by Chloé FAYETTE

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The interest for contemporary creation in Europe has intensified for several years. In 1989, at the Center Pompidou and La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, "Les Magiciens de la Terre" [Magicians of the Earth] is the first exhibition of contemporary art in France with African artists. Since then, contemporary art has not stopped to gain importance in Europe and some artists are now recognized internationally.

 

"Magicien de la Terre" exhibition poster  - Paris 1989

 

Even though access to major artistic institutions remains limited to sub-Saharan African artists, exhibiting in the West seems to be the guarantee of an international fame, a promoted works and getting the collectors. The art market is little developed in Africa, and Europe is a true springboard for the artists. However, some European states have responded to the needs of cultural institutions, in permanent search of funds. Faced with this, private initiatives are multiplying. More and more foundations are investing in highlighting contemporary African art, using their resources to encourage their development and facilitate their recognition to the public. Whether in Europe or in Africa, these foundations developed various approaches to make the creation shine.

In France, one of the challenges is to offer contemporary African artists a more important place on the market. The Jean-Paul Blachère corporate foundation has been involved in their promotion and recognition of their art since 2004. It discovers and accompanies new talents. The setting up of an artists' residence gives the possibility to visual artists to work with the materials provided by the company Blachère Illumination, specialized in the luminous decorations. This is to give contemporary African art a place on the international market.

Zinsou Fondation in Ouidah (Benin)

 

Faced with the affirmation of artists beyond the African continent, it is now essential to exhibit their creations on their native land, in order to promote their local recognition. In this issue, the Zinsou Foundation plays a key role. Founded in 2015 in Cotonou, Benin, it carries out pedagogical, cultural and social actions in order to highlight the creation, to promote the artists and to favor the access of the local population to the culture. In 2013, the Zinsou Foundation Museum is the first museum of African contemporary art to appear on the continent. The foundation enjoys an international reputation, which testifies to its major importance. She embodies contemporary African creation, and places the continent in the rank of actor of the world of art.

 

Written by Chloé FAYETTE

Read more


What recognition for women artists in the African art scene ?

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

In the history of art as in contemporary creation, the low representation of women raises questions. The reality is old but the observation is more recent: the place given to the woman in the artistic environment is insufficient. By the end of the 1990s, African women artists joined emerging demands targeting female invisibility in the art world. At the same time, they engage in struggles against inequalities that concern them more specifically. Indeed, in addition to the lack of consideration of women artists, they denounce the unfair recognition of contemporary African art on a global scale.

This precarious situation could be summed up in the terms of the art critic Roxana Azimi: "What is the most underrepresented genre in contemporary art? The women. Which continent escapes the radar of curators? Africa.”

However, by means of protests, productions and broadcasts, African women artists have come to dominate the world art scene. Evidenced by the proliferation of exhibitions devoted to them since the 2000s in Europe and the United States. Some artists even find themselves from one exhibition to another, a sign of their growing notoriety. Among them: Malana Andrialavidrazana, Joana Choumali and Seyni Awa Camara.

  Malala Andrialavidrazana, Figures 1861, Natural History of Mankind, Figures, 2016,

Malana Andrialavidrazana, born in 1971 in Madagascar, develops very early an acute sense of the observation of cultures, their specificities and their mutations. The Malagasy artist, settled in France since his childhood, is particularly sensitive to the study of cultural interactions and the way cultures feed on each other throughout the world. But it also likes to seize the distinctive and singular traditions that can still exist. Of an almost anthropological nature, his work is based on photography, a medium that evolves according to his works.

If, at the beginning, the artist cultivated a certain interest for photographs mixing narration and documentary, her recent work, Figures, started in 2015 and still ongoing, marks a turning point. Indeed, Malana Andrialavidrazana proposes a bold series crossing techniques: collage, drawing, photography create a new dialogue. By reworking a visual and iconographic heritage that was once the backing of a political discourse, the artist deconstructs the original meaning to propose a new sens. Thus, colonial cartographies become simple colored backgrounds in the service of the work, the historical images are confused with a popular repertoire, the whole is like a rich and complex patchwork. The history of the world and civilizations is interrogated by means of this assemblage of various references. More specifically, the stereotypes about Africa, widespread during the time of the conquests of the nineteenth century, are questioned by being presented in isolation and front.

Joana Choumali, Mme Djeneba, Haabré, la dernière génération (2013 - 2014), Print on Baryta paper, 90 x 60 cm

Also interested in cultural diversity and the history of Africa, Joana Choumali, born in 1974 in Côte d'Ivoire, sees photography as an opportunity to explore her identity and environment. Here again, the artistic work produced by this artist has strong sociological and anthropological resonances. Her series focus on the fashions or traditions that cross Africa. One of them, Hââbré, last generation (2013-2014), is about the scarification, custom of long time in West Africa but which is becoming scarce these days. These photographs are therefore an essential testimony of this ancient bodily adornement. Working in Africa in a profession where women are underrepresented, Joana Choumali is aware of the difficulties of this position of African female artist in the world. In an interview with Intense Art Magazine in November 2017, she noted the serious gender imbalances in Africa and between Africa and West and said: "We need more Ivorian women photographers, African photographers and women photographers! “.

 

Seyni Awa Camara, 'Maternité Submergente', 1986, Bignona clay, 155 x 39 x 24 cm, Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN

A very different profile but an artist all caught up in the sales of the market of international art, Seyni Awa Camara, nicknamed the "Potter of Casamance" (Senegal), where she is from and where she still lives, showcases a traditional art of pottery handed down from mother to daughter. Foreign to the artistic milieu, her relation to sculpture is characterized by a great spontaneity. The abundant forms that Seyni Awa Camara presents come as much from her imagination as from the myths and stories that surround her since childhood. The consideration of his creations on a world scale allows to open, through art, to different lifestyles and systems of thought, whether it is pottery in traditional context or the importance of certain symbols. For example, the recurring motif of motherhood in Seyni Awa Camara's work embodies more widely, for her and her culture, the virtuous idea of ​​fertility and fecundity.

Three different paths, three singular approaches to the world and art, but one contribution to contemporary African women's art.

 

Written by Eléa Sicre

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What recognition for women artists in the African art scene ?

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

In the history of art as in contemporary creation, the low representation of women raises questions. The reality is old but the observation is more recent: the place given to the woman in the artistic environment is insufficient. By the end of the 1990s, African women artists joined emerging demands targeting female invisibility in the art world. At the same time, they engage in struggles against inequalities that concern them more specifically. Indeed, in addition to the lack of consideration of women artists, they denounce the unfair recognition of contemporary African art on a global scale.

This precarious situation could be summed up in the terms of the art critic Roxana Azimi: "What is the most underrepresented genre in contemporary art? The women. Which continent escapes the radar of curators? Africa.”

However, by means of protests, productions and broadcasts, African women artists have come to dominate the world art scene. Evidenced by the proliferation of exhibitions devoted to them since the 2000s in Europe and the United States. Some artists even find themselves from one exhibition to another, a sign of their growing notoriety. Among them: Malana Andrialavidrazana, Joana Choumali and Seyni Awa Camara.

  Malala Andrialavidrazana, Figures 1861, Natural History of Mankind, Figures, 2016,

Malana Andrialavidrazana, born in 1971 in Madagascar, develops very early an acute sense of the observation of cultures, their specificities and their mutations. The Malagasy artist, settled in France since his childhood, is particularly sensitive to the study of cultural interactions and the way cultures feed on each other throughout the world. But it also likes to seize the distinctive and singular traditions that can still exist. Of an almost anthropological nature, his work is based on photography, a medium that evolves according to his works.

If, at the beginning, the artist cultivated a certain interest for photographs mixing narration and documentary, her recent work, Figures, started in 2015 and still ongoing, marks a turning point. Indeed, Malana Andrialavidrazana proposes a bold series crossing techniques: collage, drawing, photography create a new dialogue. By reworking a visual and iconographic heritage that was once the backing of a political discourse, the artist deconstructs the original meaning to propose a new sens. Thus, colonial cartographies become simple colored backgrounds in the service of the work, the historical images are confused with a popular repertoire, the whole is like a rich and complex patchwork. The history of the world and civilizations is interrogated by means of this assemblage of various references. More specifically, the stereotypes about Africa, widespread during the time of the conquests of the nineteenth century, are questioned by being presented in isolation and front.

Joana Choumali, Mme Djeneba, Haabré, la dernière génération (2013 - 2014), Print on Baryta paper, 90 x 60 cm

Also interested in cultural diversity and the history of Africa, Joana Choumali, born in 1974 in Côte d'Ivoire, sees photography as an opportunity to explore her identity and environment. Here again, the artistic work produced by this artist has strong sociological and anthropological resonances. Her series focus on the fashions or traditions that cross Africa. One of them, Hââbré, last generation (2013-2014), is about the scarification, custom of long time in West Africa but which is becoming scarce these days. These photographs are therefore an essential testimony of this ancient bodily adornement. Working in Africa in a profession where women are underrepresented, Joana Choumali is aware of the difficulties of this position of African female artist in the world. In an interview with Intense Art Magazine in November 2017, she noted the serious gender imbalances in Africa and between Africa and West and said: "We need more Ivorian women photographers, African photographers and women photographers! “.

 

Seyni Awa Camara, 'Maternité Submergente', 1986, Bignona clay, 155 x 39 x 24 cm, Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN

A very different profile but an artist all caught up in the sales of the market of international art, Seyni Awa Camara, nicknamed the "Potter of Casamance" (Senegal), where she is from and where she still lives, showcases a traditional art of pottery handed down from mother to daughter. Foreign to the artistic milieu, her relation to sculpture is characterized by a great spontaneity. The abundant forms that Seyni Awa Camara presents come as much from her imagination as from the myths and stories that surround her since childhood. The consideration of his creations on a world scale allows to open, through art, to different lifestyles and systems of thought, whether it is pottery in traditional context or the importance of certain symbols. For example, the recurring motif of motherhood in Seyni Awa Camara's work embodies more widely, for her and her culture, the virtuous idea of ​​fertility and fecundity.

Three different paths, three singular approaches to the world and art, but one contribution to contemporary African women's art.

 

Written by Eléa Sicre

Read more


Exposing contemporary art in Africa: new dynamics and unresolved inequalities

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

Asserting itself on the world art scene, contemporary African art is gaining increasing visibility. This considerable growth is not without generating some questions as to the modalities of exhibitions: if African works circulate more and more, the number of museums structures in Africa remains low.

As analyses Babacar Mbaye Diop, philosopher and art critic from Senegal, the lack of legal and economic framework coupled with the low investments by African states maintain the state of an art market monopolized by Western powers. Since then, the works of the most renowned African artists remain the prerogative of famous auction houses like Christie's or Sotheby's.

Nevertheless, the desire for a more equitable redistribution is gaining in intensity, initiating a movement of appropriation by the African continent of the works and artists who are intimately connected. This intention is reflected in the birth of new exhibition spaces, which come under different legal conditions.

The creation of a Centre for Contemporary Art (CAC) in Benin, a structure distinguished by its expanded vocation to serve as both the production and diffusion of contemporary art, is part of this logic of institutionalization of the art exhibition within Africa itself. Named Le Centre and opened in 2015, this space combines original performances, projections and contemporary paintings with historical objects thanks to the presence of the small Museum of the Récade.

The latter gathers forty traditional Beninese sceptres of power. The opening of new exhibition venues is also taking place on the initiative of collectors, be they European, such as Jochen Zeitz and MOCAA in Cape Town (South Africa), or Africans, like Sindika Dokolo and his eponymous foundation in Luanda (Angola).

Sindika Dokolo, congolese collector
Congolese collector, Sindika Dokolo

For the different actors, the choice to exhibit their collection within Africa is motivated by a lot of interest. The aim is to contribute to a policy of restitution, to promote contemporary artists on their continent and to once again evoke the appropriation of African art by inhabitants and visitors.

In general, exhibition spaces in Africa are emerging at a significant pace since the early 2000s and until today. Nevertheless, the nuances to be made are many and flagrant. The status and type of structures vary little: they are foundations or private museums, support donors or collectors, they are palliating the lack of cultural budget suffered by Africa. Then, inequal distribution among the different African countries is emphasized: of South Africa, South Africa, Nigeria or Morocco are more favored than others. Finally, acquisitions of African works are mainly in the West, this monopoly increases the risk of Africa of his creations.

If the success of contemporary art in the world positively contributes to the recognition of new artists, sometimes unknown, and the dynamism of the economy, a challenge remains: exhibiting artworks on the African continent itself.

 

Written by Eléa SICRE

Read more

Asserting itself on the world art scene, contemporary African art is gaining increasing visibility. This considerable growth is not without generating some questions as to the modalities of exhibitions: if African works circulate more and more, the number of museums structures in Africa remains low.

As analyses Babacar Mbaye Diop, philosopher and art critic from Senegal, the lack of legal and economic framework coupled with the low investments by African states maintain the state of an art market monopolized by Western powers. Since then, the works of the most renowned African artists remain the prerogative of famous auction houses like Christie's or Sotheby's.

Nevertheless, the desire for a more equitable redistribution is gaining in intensity, initiating a movement of appropriation by the African continent of the works and artists who are intimately connected. This intention is reflected in the birth of new exhibition spaces, which come under different legal conditions.

The creation of a Centre for Contemporary Art (CAC) in Benin, a structure distinguished by its expanded vocation to serve as both the production and diffusion of contemporary art, is part of this logic of institutionalization of the art exhibition within Africa itself. Named Le Centre and opened in 2015, this space combines original performances, projections and contemporary paintings with historical objects thanks to the presence of the small Museum of the Récade.

The latter gathers forty traditional Beninese sceptres of power. The opening of new exhibition venues is also taking place on the initiative of collectors, be they European, such as Jochen Zeitz and MOCAA in Cape Town (South Africa), or Africans, like Sindika Dokolo and his eponymous foundation in Luanda (Angola).

Sindika Dokolo, congolese collector
Congolese collector, Sindika Dokolo

For the different actors, the choice to exhibit their collection within Africa is motivated by a lot of interest. The aim is to contribute to a policy of restitution, to promote contemporary artists on their continent and to once again evoke the appropriation of African art by inhabitants and visitors.

In general, exhibition spaces in Africa are emerging at a significant pace since the early 2000s and until today. Nevertheless, the nuances to be made are many and flagrant. The status and type of structures vary little: they are foundations or private museums, support donors or collectors, they are palliating the lack of cultural budget suffered by Africa. Then, inequal distribution among the different African countries is emphasized: of South Africa, South Africa, Nigeria or Morocco are more favored than others. Finally, acquisitions of African works are mainly in the West, this monopoly increases the risk of Africa of his creations.

If the success of contemporary art in the world positively contributes to the recognition of new artists, sometimes unknown, and the dynamism of the economy, a challenge remains: exhibiting artworks on the African continent itself.

 

Written by Eléa SICRE

Read more


Voodoo keeps reinventing itself in Benin

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

Thanks to the festivities that keep it alive and the arts inspired from it, the voodoo never stops reinventing itself on his native territory. This religion, based on the animists cult and on specific rituals dedicated to invoke the gods, was born in the kingdom of Dahomey (ancient kingdom located in the South West of actual Benin) known as "land of voodoo". It is characterized by its appearance of “total experience”: processions, songs, furious rhythm of the percussions, trance, colorful costumes, animate the voodoo ceremonies.

At a time when spirituality is weakening under the influence of hyper-technology and rampant globalization, what’s future for voodoo? It is in Benin that we find the marks of its revitalization, that it takes the format of a national day or finds its place in contemporary art.

Photographies of Voodoo festivalPhotographies of Voodoo festival, January 2019, by Yannick Jolly

Indeed, it is interesting to note the continuation of the practices that surround it during huge gatherings like the Voodoo Festival held every year in Benin, on January 10, since 1993. This event, real national day, brings together all the scattered members of the African diaspora, most Vodounsi (followers of voodoo) coming back for this occasion. If the unfolding of the ceremony is always structured around offerings, dances and animations that honor the deities and remove evil, its meaning evolves over time. The religious anchorage is still evident, but for some, the event today embodies a symbolic element and representative of their culture. Moreover, as the years go by, the tradition benefits from the contribution of the new generations: the manufacture of the costumes is enriched by the use of new fabrics or by innovative techniques of cutting, the transport of the statues can now be carried out in motorized vehicles ... This celebration context shows the possible harmony between tradition and modernity

Contemporary African art is not insensitive to the voodoo spirit, especially for the great artistic figures who are heirs. Dominique Zinkpè, famous Beninese artist born in 1969 in Cotonou (Benin) has a unique relationship with this religion. First and foremost, the central importance he places on his country is reflected in his political and ethical commitment. Striving for the recognition of African art in Africa, he took the project of opening the Cultural Artistique and Touristic Center Ouadada in Porto Novo (Benin). Zinkpé is now the director of the Center and made it very famous. In addition, the proximity of its plastic expression to the lively and energetic manifestations of voodoo has often been noted. From the ligns to the electric colors, Dominique Zinkpè's work seem to draw inspiration from voodoo forces. In an interview for RFI, he returns to this inspiration attributed to him and which he confirms. Without attempting to make an ethnographical study of voodoo rituals, the artist uses the spiritual energy of these to design his paintings, and therefore proposes a "plastic transcription ». In addition, this religion also plays for him the role of a homecoming, a tribute to these living traditions that the Western world pejoratively called "folklore". Assuming his artistic approach reconciling inspiration from the past and aspiration to innovation, he affirmed in a talk reported by Roxana Azimi (World Africa): "Folklore, it also exists, I won't silence to satisfy the codes of contemporary art."

Voodoo pharmacy, Eric Bottero
Eric Bottero, Voodoo Pharmacy – sérum, 2017

The attraction of voodoo is such that it has attracted French contemporary artist in Benin, eager to study it more closely. Invited by Dominique Zinkpè, Eric Bottero, photographer, left France for a while during a residency at the Center of Art and Culture of Lobozunkpa (Benin). By attending to voodoo ceremonies and connecting with local population, the artist develops a personal perception of voodoo spirituality and wishes to include it in his art. On site, he embarked on a work of installation and sculpture that questions the relationship of this traditional religion with the current context, especially the consumer model in the era of overconsumption. His project takes various forms. The "Voodoo Pharmacy - Sérum" is an example of a series of healers' remedies, purchased on the market and regularly positioned, in a cold and impersonal way; this way he makes fun of the Western pharmaceutical rays. He also creates a whole series of fake worship statues. Some are used for a new critical speech, such as the "WIFI Fetish", criticizing the cult of permanent connectivity in Western countries. Steeped in this culture, he has also produced a photographic work on cosmetics and masks, mixing documentary intent and aesthetic research, named "Voodooland", in which he reintroduces fetishes in daily life scenes.

Read more

Voodoo keeps reinventing itself in Benin

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

Thanks to the festivities that keep it alive and the arts inspired from it, the voodoo never stops reinventing itself on his native territory. This religion, based on the animists cult and on specific rituals dedicated to invoke the gods, was born in the kingdom of Dahomey (ancient kingdom located in the South West of actual Benin) known as "land of voodoo". It is characterized by its appearance of “total experience”: processions, songs, furious rhythm of the percussions, trance, colorful costumes, animate the voodoo ceremonies.

At a time when spirituality is weakening under the influence of hyper-technology and rampant globalization, what’s future for voodoo? It is in Benin that we find the marks of its revitalization, that it takes the format of a national day or finds its place in contemporary art.

Photographies of Voodoo festivalPhotographies of Voodoo festival, January 2019, by Yannick Jolly

Indeed, it is interesting to note the continuation of the practices that surround it during huge gatherings like the Voodoo Festival held every year in Benin, on January 10, since 1993. This event, real national day, brings together all the scattered members of the African diaspora, most Vodounsi (followers of voodoo) coming back for this occasion. If the unfolding of the ceremony is always structured around offerings, dances and animations that honor the deities and remove evil, its meaning evolves over time. The religious anchorage is still evident, but for some, the event today embodies a symbolic element and representative of their culture. Moreover, as the years go by, the tradition benefits from the contribution of the new generations: the manufacture of the costumes is enriched by the use of new fabrics or by innovative techniques of cutting, the transport of the statues can now be carried out in motorized vehicles ... This celebration context shows the possible harmony between tradition and modernity

Contemporary African art is not insensitive to the voodoo spirit, especially for the great artistic figures who are heirs. Dominique Zinkpè, famous Beninese artist born in 1969 in Cotonou (Benin) has a unique relationship with this religion. First and foremost, the central importance he places on his country is reflected in his political and ethical commitment. Striving for the recognition of African art in Africa, he took the project of opening the Cultural Artistique and Touristic Center Ouadada in Porto Novo (Benin). Zinkpé is now the director of the Center and made it very famous. In addition, the proximity of its plastic expression to the lively and energetic manifestations of voodoo has often been noted. From the ligns to the electric colors, Dominique Zinkpè's work seem to draw inspiration from voodoo forces. In an interview for RFI, he returns to this inspiration attributed to him and which he confirms. Without attempting to make an ethnographical study of voodoo rituals, the artist uses the spiritual energy of these to design his paintings, and therefore proposes a "plastic transcription ». In addition, this religion also plays for him the role of a homecoming, a tribute to these living traditions that the Western world pejoratively called "folklore". Assuming his artistic approach reconciling inspiration from the past and aspiration to innovation, he affirmed in a talk reported by Roxana Azimi (World Africa): "Folklore, it also exists, I won't silence to satisfy the codes of contemporary art."

Voodoo pharmacy, Eric Bottero
Eric Bottero, Voodoo Pharmacy – sérum, 2017

The attraction of voodoo is such that it has attracted French contemporary artist in Benin, eager to study it more closely. Invited by Dominique Zinkpè, Eric Bottero, photographer, left France for a while during a residency at the Center of Art and Culture of Lobozunkpa (Benin). By attending to voodoo ceremonies and connecting with local population, the artist develops a personal perception of voodoo spirituality and wishes to include it in his art. On site, he embarked on a work of installation and sculpture that questions the relationship of this traditional religion with the current context, especially the consumer model in the era of overconsumption. His project takes various forms. The "Voodoo Pharmacy - Sérum" is an example of a series of healers' remedies, purchased on the market and regularly positioned, in a cold and impersonal way; this way he makes fun of the Western pharmaceutical rays. He also creates a whole series of fake worship statues. Some are used for a new critical speech, such as the "WIFI Fetish", criticizing the cult of permanent connectivity in Western countries. Steeped in this culture, he has also produced a photographic work on cosmetics and masks, mixing documentary intent and aesthetic research, named "Voodooland", in which he reintroduces fetishes in daily life scenes.

Read more


Two artists in Tunisian art scene, Thameur Mejri and Slimen Elkamel

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

Engaged for the development of the contemporary Maghrebi artistic scene, the Attijariwafa Bank Foundation opened a series of meetings on June 13, 2019, in Casablanca (Morocco). The theme "Contemporary African Art: what perspectives for which markets?” allowed Mouna Kably (Head of the Publishing and Debates Division) to highlight the "historical cultural time of the African art scene and the enthusiasm generated by the works of her young artists". This event gives us the opportunity to present to you two emerging Tunisian artists, Thameur Mejri and Slimen Elkamel.

These two painters, formed at the Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis, went to the soaring of the plastic creation of the country since the Revolution of Jasmin in 2010. This period of political and social crisis, resulting in a liberation of popular expression, offers fertile ground for contemporary artists. Many questions are raised, on the body, on religion, on morale and democracy, the answers are not yet unanimous.

In a June 2018 interview to Harper Bazar Arabia, Thameur Mejri recalls his role as an artist: "I do not give answers-on the contrary, I want to answer questions, to feel uncomfortable, to get lost, to feel moved". His work War outside questions the surreal violence of the civil war and the relationship to the faith. Besides the pastel shades, the gray line of Mejri limits the supposed fantasy of the forms. The meeting of ideas and bodies is transformed into shock, into a smog from which monsters fuse. The crisis reveals the darkest paradox of man, between ghostly figures and fluorescent colors in the Herectic Spaces series.

War outside, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cmHeretic spaces, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

 War outside, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

Heretic Spaces, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

 

Like Mejri, Slimen Elkamel dissects the image, the composition and the poetry of a society. His works, such as In the Street (2019), are full of signs forming a language that evolves in a troubled iTunisian context. He says, "Simple daily movements do not spring from emptiness, they are charged with an intense political and social history that generates and builds them. ". In addition, the creation is an echo to the current situation, of which Slimen Elkamel paints the lack of readability. The figures that are repeated are strange and lifeless, like silent.

In the Street, Slimen Elkamel, acrylic and transfer on canvas, 150x150cm

In the Street, Slimen Elkamel, acrylic and transfer on canvas, 150x150cm

 

The young Tunisian artists claim an imaginary probably stifled in the past. They question the suspended environment, from which the spectator must draw the answers. Drawing on abstract and popular modernist codes, they commit themselves to a reappropriation of the body and the dream. These artists still lament the lack of visibility of the Maghreb artistic scene, however boiling. Cultural initiatives struggle to find political support and attract the general public.

Written by Maxence ZABO

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Engaged for the development of the contemporary Maghrebi artistic scene, the Attijariwafa Bank Foundation opened a series of meetings on June 13, 2019, in Casablanca (Morocco). The theme "Contemporary African Art: what perspectives for which markets?” allowed Mouna Kably (Head of the Publishing and Debates Division) to highlight the "historical cultural time of the African art scene and the enthusiasm generated by the works of her young artists". This event gives us the opportunity to present to you two emerging Tunisian artists, Thameur Mejri and Slimen Elkamel.

These two painters, formed at the Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis, went to the soaring of the plastic creation of the country since the Revolution of Jasmin in 2010. This period of political and social crisis, resulting in a liberation of popular expression, offers fertile ground for contemporary artists. Many questions are raised, on the body, on religion, on morale and democracy, the answers are not yet unanimous.

In a June 2018 interview to Harper Bazar Arabia, Thameur Mejri recalls his role as an artist: "I do not give answers-on the contrary, I want to answer questions, to feel uncomfortable, to get lost, to feel moved". His work War outside questions the surreal violence of the civil war and the relationship to the faith. Besides the pastel shades, the gray line of Mejri limits the supposed fantasy of the forms. The meeting of ideas and bodies is transformed into shock, into a smog from which monsters fuse. The crisis reveals the darkest paradox of man, between ghostly figures and fluorescent colors in the Herectic Spaces series.

War outside, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cmHeretic spaces, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

 War outside, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

Heretic Spaces, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

 

Like Mejri, Slimen Elkamel dissects the image, the composition and the poetry of a society. His works, such as In the Street (2019), are full of signs forming a language that evolves in a troubled iTunisian context. He says, "Simple daily movements do not spring from emptiness, they are charged with an intense political and social history that generates and builds them. ". In addition, the creation is an echo to the current situation, of which Slimen Elkamel paints the lack of readability. The figures that are repeated are strange and lifeless, like silent.

In the Street, Slimen Elkamel, acrylic and transfer on canvas, 150x150cm

In the Street, Slimen Elkamel, acrylic and transfer on canvas, 150x150cm

 

The young Tunisian artists claim an imaginary probably stifled in the past. They question the suspended environment, from which the spectator must draw the answers. Drawing on abstract and popular modernist codes, they commit themselves to a reappropriation of the body and the dream. These artists still lament the lack of visibility of the Maghreb artistic scene, however boiling. Cultural initiatives struggle to find political support and attract the general public.

Written by Maxence ZABO

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