African Contemporary Art - the time to buy.

17 Nov 2016


Contemporary African art, it's time to buy! (translated from the original French)

By Valérie Sasportas Update On 17/11/2016 at 16:15 published The 17/11/2016 with 07:13


(Neill Wright, Last resort, 2014, bronze sculpture estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 euros at Piasa)


AUCTIONS - For its third sale in the specialty, Piasa offers a nice selection of works away from the clichés, Thursday 17 November. The awards are still accessible, and the context with two fairs now, 1:54 in London, New York and Marrakech, and AKAA (Also Known as Africa), in Paris.

Christophe Person refuses to act as curator. "I do not pretend to be curating," he says. However, the director of strategy development of Parisian auction house Piasa proposes a catalog of contemporary African art, Thursday, November 17, museum quality. Entitled "Origins & trajectoires II", this new auctioning session opens up to contemporary artists in the ascension, or even already famous, around three sections: modern artists, migrations and a focus on fifteen women, "overrepresented in relation to the Market," says the specialist.

Among the tenors of the market: the Beninois Romuald Hazoumè , 53, whose masks were enthroned on the wall of the Grand Palais, in Paris, during the exhibition Picasso Mania . Piasa is selling Azaro, created in 2013 from found objects, plastics, fabrics and fibers, for 14,000 to 18,000 euros. On Friday, November 11, at Sotheby's in London, Hazoumè created the surprise: David Bowie collected it, discovered it in South Africa while the visual artist was not yet known, bought his works of masks. Four works of Bowie signed Hazoumè were thus acquired at auction for 15,000 to 25,000 pounds per piece.

(Romuald Hazoumè, Azonton, 2013, mask estimated 14,000 to 18,000 euros.)

At Piasa, other African artists have made the reinterpretation of traditional masks their trademark, such as Gonçalo Madubunda , 41, who recovers the weapons of Mozambique's civil war to make works of art, Image of the mask Armes et Métal , estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 euros. Like the Zimbabwean Masimba Hwati, 34, with his Urban Skin sold between 1,500 and 2,500 euros. Or the Cameroonian Joseph Francis Sumégné , 65, whose sculptures made of mixed materials are proposed for 1700 to 2800 euros.

Putting forward the evolution of African identity

"I wanted to highlight the evolution of African identity. These artists have a vision of the world proper to them. And we must succeed in confronting the artists who are on the continent with those of the diaspora", observes Christophe Person, quoting the Beninese Dominique Zinkpé, in the catalog, who goes back and forth between Cotonou and Paris, where he iss by the gallery owner Bob Vallois. Or the Cameroonian Barthélémy Toguo, nominated for the Marcel Duchamp 2016 prize, who travels between Bandjoun and Paris, carried by the Lelong gallery.

In the chapter "Migrations", the Ivorian Didier Viodé attracts attention. His series of 8 drawings The G8 clowns, ink on paper in 2016, depicts the world's leaders with a red nose, "hypocritically questions the clan, hypocrisy and deceit of the men of power," reads the catalog. It is estimated between 4000 and 6000 euros.

Embroidered works are also numerous, like those, all delicate, of Congolese Gastineau Massamba, whose skulls seem to have emerged from a voodoo nightmare (15,000 to 20,000 euros). Or those of Ghada Amer, with Untitled, 1994, estimated from 70,000 to 90,000 euros, one of the most expensive of the catalog.

(Ghada Amer, Untitled, 1994, estimated 70,000 to 90,000 euros)

"In Africa, as elsewhere, bronze statues are erected as emblems of strength, freedom and unity to give shape to the ideals of nations," Christophe Person writes in the catalog, in front of the bronze sculpture of the South African Neill Wright, Last Resort, 2014 (6,000 to 8,000 euros). It is a little lego man who is an undocumented man carrying his luggage, so heavy that he leans back. "The bronze is also the weight of his life", comments the specialist.

We are still surprised at the range of estimates: only 6,000 to 8,000. Like those of Bruce Clarke, this Man standing in life, whose watercolors and collages on papers are offered for 2,000 to 8,000 euros. "These artists are very affordable because they have been little promoted," judges Person, who put together 87 works in total for a global estimate of 450,000 euros.

At the previous sale of Piasa on June 9, 2016, the promotion of the diversity of the artistic creation of African artists and the Diaspora had given good results. A work of pigments and wax on wood, the Wheel, of the Moroccan Mahi Binebine, had been acquired for 32,200 euros, very above the evaluations. Toy Painting, composition of plastic toys, of the British-Nigerian Yinka Shonibare, had soared to 29,624 euros, six times the estimates. While La Danse, mixed technique on canvas of the Dakarois (Senegal) Soly Cissé, had doubled on the phone its pricing with 7 470 euros.

The rating of these artists should finally climb. The context is strong, with two fairs now, the one founded by Touria el Glaoui, 1:54 (1 as the continent and 54 for the number of countries), London, New York and Marrakech. And then in France, with Akaa ( also Known as Africa ), whose modest but solid 1st edition was held last weekend at the Carreau du Temple in Paris, under the leadership of Victoria Mann. And then the continent is awakened, without the help of the States, with private initiatives that highlight contemporary creation, like the Beninese Zinsou Foundation, whose collection on its walls is enriched auctions. And who shows, in Cotonou, Didier Viodé, series of 8 drawings The clowns of the G8, 2016, estimated between 4,000 and 6,000 euros.

Live auctions on this auction with Le Figaro Auchères.

  Profile Page (Neill Wright)

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