Unrolled from February 18 to April 10, 2021, under the theme « Money, Money, Money », the latest solo exhibition of Beninese artist Meschac Gaba was held at the Stevenson Art Gallery based in Cape Town, South Africa.
The conceptual artist delivers the results of a career-long investigation into the evolution of socio-cultural and monetary values, while drawing on the facts that have marked his creative life between 1994 and 2016.
The exhibition « Money, Money, Money », is a set of sharing through installations, sculptures and prints, but also the currency used as a fall, this discursive tool and an embellishment.
Meschac Gaba: Artist analyst of the economy.
This conception of the contemporary African artist Meschac Gaba is not ex nihilo. It comes from his experience between Benin and the Netherlands where, he observed, during several years the elements characterizing the relationship between Africa and the Western world.
Using art as a lever for socio-economic analysis, he lifts a corner of the veil on the vulnerability and the protean character of the systems of exchange in Africa and in the world.
His approach: to question the Western influence in the regulation of African economic policies; a fight he has been waging for nearly three decades.
In the exhibition « Money, Money, Money », Meschac Gaba used money as a tool of introspection to claim the nullity of the aesthetic value of pre-existing practices in the world of international exchange.
To highlight this, a major work « Atlantic » created in 2001 was presented at the exhibition. It features an assemblage of flags from several African countries, associated with fishing rods and banknotes; a subtle way for him to remind us that we need to change paradigms in order to transform our leisure into conquest, survival and betterment.
The revolutionary of African art
From painting to sculpture, passing by the structure, recycled objects or these pieces that look like majestic wigs with primary colors. Meschac Gaba has become one of the most innovative contemporary African artists of his generation.
Drawn between modernity and traditional African art, he opts for the mix in his creations such as: « Car wigs », « Architecture wigs », « Travel-Colis » or « Contemporary Archaeologies » which is a body of unusual works that reveals the cultural mix of which he is the product.
The conceptual artist Meschac Gaba has left his mark on the minds of art lovers with his installations of everyday objects, while combining cultural identities with commercial exchanges between Africa and the Western world. He projects a panoramic vision that allows him to think the collective and the particular, the local and the global, tradition and globalization.
In the quest for a new contemporary historiography of Africa, he has taken the step of correcting prejudices about Africa by rethinking the notion of the museum. The work of art for him is no longer just a practice, nor a simple manifestation of beauty, but rather a means of political expression, a channel for expressing his opinion and participating in the animation of socio-political life.
Turning in derision the facts and events, he uses humor, irony and satire to denounce and raise awareness in his creations, which he calls « author’s exhibition », a concept where the works are realized as a form in itself, societal, political, autonomous and independent.
Author of the « Museum of Contemporary African Art », this witty installation that overturns preconceived ideas about African art. A work that he has circulated around the world and that the Tate Modern in London has acquired, has shaken up notions of value and made the rounds of several institutions and international cultural industries. This is the case of documenta XI and the Tate Modern in 2013.
The African conceptual artist thus inaugurates the era of a moving, mutant, fun, collaborative and conversational work. A way to mark a revolution in art education in Africa and the representativeness of African art outside the continent.