Friday, May 26 to June 12, 2023, Black Liquid Art Gallery hosts “Africam Exploro”, a recognition exhibition featuring twelve artists who have made a major contribution to the history of contemporary African art. Twins Seven Seven, Jean-Baptiste Ngnetchopa, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Soly Cissè, Sanaa Gateja, Calixte Dakpogan, Esther Mahlangu, Cheri Samba, Moke, George Lilanga, Pierre Bodo and Jacques-Jean Efiaimbelo are the distinguished artists who have been invited to present their art focused on contemporary African culture.
“Africam Exploro” refers to a Latin expression meaning “to make a reconnaissance in Africa“. The works on display reflect our society today, as well as the artists behind them. Indeed, each of the works presented is imbued with the culture and aesthetic influences emanating from the country of origin of these contemporary artists. They offer us traditional art that has fused with that of the rest of the world, resulting in works with unique visual renderings, steeped in an Afrocentricity that once again impacts on Western aesthetics.
The aim of the “Africam Exploro” exhibition is to highlight the international debate surrounding the complexity of contemporary African art. The main challenge facing this art, endogenous to the African continent, is its vast and heterogeneous nature, bringing together a wide range of artists, languages and styles. As such, the analysis of this art of a thousand purposes is intended to be more collective than individual, in order to explore the different critical perspectives that have been expressed over the years.
In an attempt to sketch out the current critical scene, two opposing models of approach to contemporary African art will be examined. The first, described as “neo-primitivist“, expresses the traditional, authentic side of African art, which conforms to Western stereotypes and aspirations. The second, more “conceptualist“, seeks to challenge these stereotypes and expand the scope of African art within the global artistic tradition.
In recent decades, identities forged on the basis of geographical criteria and Western borders have become somewhat outdated. For African artists and those of the diaspora who are particularly interested in identity and the question of belonging, they work with the intention of updating exchanges with the international circuit and the culture of belonging. The combination of contemporaneity and tradition is no longer sufficient to understand the changing and multiple facets of the African art scene.
It is therefore timely to transform the image of Africa as it is perceived in the West by using the voices, including those of African critics, while opting for a process that classifies the relationships between patrons, the public, production and the artist into categories of analysis.
The “Africam Exploro” exhibition, in addition to exhausting the subject of contemporary African artistic diversity, represents a pretext for germinating reflexive thoughts on an expanding phenomenon in contemporary international culture.