A Fresh Look at Africa
Opening: May 18, 2021
From 19 May – 1 Oct, 2021, Tuesday through Saturday, from 3 PM to 7 PM. Booking kindly required.Book your visit
Glenda Cinquegrana Art Consulting is glad to present the collective show A Fresh Look at Africa, dedicated to three historic African artists: photographer Seydou Keïta, sculptor John Goba, and painter Esther Mahlangu.
The show A Fresh Look at Africa arises from a historical recognition of the artists included in the exhibition which for the first time drew attention, at an international level, to African art: the famous “Magiciens de la Terre”, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin at Centre Georges Pompidou in 1989. The exhibition, which, in its curator’s intention, would have gathered artist/”magicians” capable of impacting on Western art, for the first time, cast a glance on new territories of art other than the traditional European and American art.
The title A Fresh Look at Africa deliberately includes the word “fresh” as a non-literal translation of friche, which in French is synonymous with freshness, uncultivated, and abandoned land: the word refers to a new perspective on African art suggested by anthropologist Jean-Loup Amselle in the essay Contemporary African Art (2007). According to Amselle, Africa is a friche continent and its art can have a regenerating impact on the culture of the now Old Continent.
The choice of the three historic African artists is made in a “fresh-friche” perspective: It reflects the attempt to reinterpret research according to a point of view that aspires to be “contemporary”, influenced by a new perception of Africa, no longer in the light of a trivial third-world post-colonial point of view, but by considering the continent as autonomous in the production of artistic culture; moreover in the light of forms of awareness on the importance of adopting a perspective more inclusive of women.
The photography production by Seydou Keïta reflects his research documenting a historical period in Mali; John Goba‘s art finds its roots in the female tribal spiritism of Sierra Leone; Esther Mahlangu‘s art is the expression of a tradition handed down from woman to woman.
The research by John Goba, (Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone 1944 – Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2019) is linked to the strong relevance of women in tribal society. Born within the Bondo Society, a secret community composed of women only, where it seems his grandmother had a prominent role, the artist was raised according to the rules of the sect, which has a triadic vision of the world: the living, the dead and Gods. The artist’s sculptural practice, based on the use of traditional wood, recovers a manner of representing the world dear to the myths of that secret society, made of gods, heroes, and female figures who are sometimes benign, sometimes magic, and mysterious. The porcupine thorns, which in the wars among tribes in Sierra Leone are used as weapons, are the material of the sculptures and are considered a tool protecting the spirit contained inside the heart of the wood.
Brought to international fame by the show “Magiciens de la Terre,” Esther Mahlangu (born in Middleburg, South Africa, in 1935) has built her career not only on shows in the main museums worldwide but also on prestigious international collaborations with corporations such as Rolls Royce, BMW, British Airways and Fiat. At the venerable age of 86, she is one of the most important figures in the history of South African art.
At the root of Mahlangu’s pictorial research is a language handed down by the women of the Ndebele tribe. According to tradition, it’s a woman’s prerogative to decorate the house, as the choice of some codes is linked to the need to communicate events connected to the everyday life of the tribe. Mahlangu, who has made of her life and research a lucid statement of female tribal pride, transforms this mural language into a pictorial one, which, according to Western categories, becomes abstract-geometrical.
Seydou Keïta (Bamako 1921- Paris 2001) was one of Mali’s major photographers and, thanks to his prominent role in society at the time, he was able to tell the story of a country’s quest for its identity after the end of colonialism. Photographic portraits, in the context of Mali in those years, represented for those who commissioned them an important instrument of construction of a new social identity. In his photographs, generally black and white portraits taken in his studio, men and women deliberately choose to pose in attitudes and clothes typical of western culture. Those images remain a document of a specific type of social communication at the dawn of a new era for the country. Women, in particular, are portrayed in poses that are typical of classical pictorial tradition, while men boast objects and accessories from the western culture to show their modernity, which at the time was considered emancipation from tradition.
We are also glad also to present
that has been online on Artsy until May 21rst, 2021.
will be on from May 18th – June 30th, 2021.
Working with photography and collage, Mazaccio & Drowilal deconstruct multiple facets of contemporary visual culture through their process of gathering and arranging mass-media images. Their visual practice and aesthetic approach are heavily influenced by the Internet’s new iconographies and digital culture. Mazaccio & Drowilal have explored a wide breadth of subjects pertaining to celebrity, branding, artificiality, and identity.As a material for their photo collages and installations the French artists Elise Mazac and Robert Drowilal, known as the art duo Mazaccio & Drowilal, use popular images of contemporary culture that are intentionally torn from their usual context. With the help of diverse techniques, deliberately bright colors, and irony sharp as a razor, the artists transform these images and question the conventional principles of artistic photography. By juxtaposing heterogeneous and often contradictory shots and blurring the boundaries between natural and artificial, Mazaccio & Drowilal provoke the viewer, who is doomed to balance on the verge of disgust and pleasure when confronted by the authors’ extraordinary artistic experiment.