Exhibitions in Paris: ‘Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier’ to be presented at Fondation Louis Vuitton
Italian businessman Jean Pigozzi’s collection means the less known arts scene of the second largest continent in the world takes centre stage.
If homosapiens originated from Africa, as according to a Cambridge study featured on National Geographic, the exhibition of works by various modern African artists, developed by the artistic directors of Fondation Louis Vuitton and Italian businessman Jean Pigozzi, titled ‘Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier’ and shown at the Foundation’s galleries from April 26 to August 28, 2017, shall be extremely important on the calendar of anyone interested in social study.
The direction of the study could be in that of dialecticism — put in very broad brushstrokes, the influence of a person on nations and societies and the other way round. The exhibition, with three interlinked sections, shall address this in a most arresting way.
There is something compelling when we think about Pigozzi personally collecting modern works from French, English, and Dutch speakers across the continent, beginning 1989. Think of the diversity of stories that must have been exchanged, and the opportunities Pigozzi had, to ask very different artists about the life stories that inspired their art. He did so alongside curator André Magnin, and the fruit of that journey is presented in ‘The Insiders’, the first section of the exhibition.
‘The Insiders’ is an outsiders’ collection of stories and works gathered by gaining access to the world of insiders in Africa. The individuals express political perspectives and show the intertwining of personal, national, and regional histories in Africa, across a specific period of time, from the year Pigozzi began collecting to a more recent 2009. The artists, including Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and Seni Awa Camara, interact with many constructs from their birth countries, including craft and scientific constructs, in their works.
A year before the Berlin Wall fell in 1991, on the second largest continent of the world, the law that made apartheid legal in South Africa was abolished. We cannot write about the pain of separation because we do not know. The second section of the exhibition, ‘Being There’, brings together works of South African art masters such as David Goldblatt and Jane Alexander, and artists born in the decades following the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, including Nicholas Hlobo, and Kudzanai Chiurai. The artists engage us critically in examining how the history of South Africa affects what it means to live in the South African society today.
In the age of globalisation, art has a pertinent role in sparking and continuing dialogues about immigration, about what it means to be home and away and to have your identity shaped and shaken by differing cultural and social constructs. The last section of ‘Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier’ features Afro-American artists and other artists of African heritage working outside the continent. Dialecticism about Africans and Africa is enriched, and we hope the hard thinking it gets going, even when it does not settle easily, is not rejected, but that perspectives that were once unknown or unconsidered shall be allowed to surface.
Variation in art forms can only broaden the frame of thinking, and thinking is the first step to knowing. That is why we are excited not only about the range of mediums used by the artists in the three sections of ‘Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier’, but also the fringe programmes involving poetry, literature, and other art forms, released together with the exhibition. Just as an artist has a specific lens by which he or she views the world, the medium is a very specific lens by which the world is shown, and the interplay of the artist and the medium brings insight into the story behind the work.
“Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier” will be exhibited at the Fondation Louis Vuitton from April 26, 2016 to August 28, 2017. For more information, please visit fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en.html.