Once upon a time in West Africa
Curated By Alessandro Romanini
Exhibitions. From West Africa to Pietrasanta, a showcase for nine contemporary African artists
The collective exhibition “Once upon a time in West Africa” opens on Saturday 4 June in Pietrasanta – vernissage at 18:00, featuring 9 contemporary African artists, including 5 selected for the 2022 edition of the Biennale di Venice by Cecilia Alemani. Aboudia, Nu Barreto, Armand Boua, Frédéric Bruly Bouabrè, Seni Awa Camara, Brice Esso, Laetitia Ky, Saint Etienne Yeanzi.
The exhibition, curated by Alessandro Romanini, required the synergy of 3 art galleries who chose Pietrasanta as their venue and the Collector’s Night as the date to open to the public this original journey into contemporary art from the ancient continent. The Project Space, Lis10 Gallery and Bonelli Arte Contemporanea, located in the Ex Marmi complex – respectively Via Nazario Sauro 52 and 56, have joined forces to present this creative path, and the expressive forms that are winning public and critical accl and inflamed the latest international auctions. West Africa is a large and articulated region of the ancient continent, between the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the Sahara to the north, horizontally marked by a preponderant nature and a varied territory; a northern belt consisting of desert, a southern area with thickets and forest and a semi-desert central part called the Sahel.
At the center of great migrations, in recent years it has become a jumble of cultures and creativity that have spread throughout the entire globe. The artists gathered in this exhibition entitled “western”, which will remain open from 4 June, perfectly represent with their languages- pictorial, sculptural and photographic – this mix of cultures and iconographies, able to harmoniously blend millenary traditions with latest visual forms of the mainstream, south of the world and west, ritual and myth. The exhibition will feature a group of artists selected for the national pavilion of the Côte d’Ivoire at the current Venice Biennale, including the “father” of Ivorian and African art Frédéric Bruly Bouabrè, the young artist who broke the records of auction during the last two years in the main international auction houses, Aboudia (based in Abidjan, New York and Paris), the poet of street life Armand Boua, the painter, philosopher and sociologist Saint Etienne Yeanzi and the very young Laetitia Ky (25 years old) who conquered the lagoon event as a “freshest and most innovative expression”, thanks to her “hair sculptures” and photographs.
To these are added figures such as the Senegalese Seni Awa Camara, true “godmother” of African art, already present – like Bouabré – with her terracotta sculptures, in the historic exhibition “Magiciens de la terre” hosted at the Center Pompidou in Paris in 1989 , which brought contemporary African art to the fore for the first time in the West.
From Guinea Bissau, Nu Barreto has been able to establish himself on the international scene and his paintings, with their strong component of militant human rights vindication, have been exhibited in the main international museum events.
The Ivorian Brice Esso, a multifaceted artist, demonstrates that he has assimilated a plastic language, able to synthesize the Western expressive tradition and sculptural technique, while preserving the themes dear to his poetics, such as those of childhood.
The guest of the exhibition dedicated to contemporary art of West Africa- in the Bonelli Contemporary Art Gallery – is the Cameroonian Ajarb Bernard Ategwa, who at the age of 34 achieved an extremely personal chromatic and thematic style, which brought him to the attention of critics, international galleries and the public.”The exhibition – explains the curator Alessandro Romanini – represents an opportunity to see gathered together contemporary African artists who have been able to assimilate and re-elaborate the various contemporary trends in an expressive form, encouraging viewers to reflect, from those more related to the news such as Black Lives Matter , the Cancel Culture and the war conflicts, up to those of a historical and socio-political nature such as colonialism, the diaspora and the inevitable ethnocultural synthesis imposed by globalization ”.