Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Passion for African Art

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Aude Minart
Photo courtesy of Aude Minart

Aude Minart is passionate about art and all other expressions of creativity. Originally from a town near Lille in northern France, she lives and breathes to promote African art in her native France. For her, art is a means to slowly erode the perceptions that her compatriots have of Africa—to demonstrate that there is a modern Africa, and that contemporary artists abide and thrive there.

Aude granted me an interview during the last days of her latest art exposition in Paris: Tout est Possible Tous les Possibles. The show was marvelous! Every medium except photography was displayed there, including video.

We first discussed and dispensed with the subject of primitive arts. Primitive arts (now called arts premiers, or first arts, in France) consist of masks and carvings such as those displayed at the Musée du Quai Branly and the Musée Dapper in Paris. Aude says that this is the first thing that springs to a French person’s mind in thinking of art from Africa. She firmly believes this view of Africa’s art is too restrictive, and stated that this form or art is not at all what she promotes.

Likewise, she says that all African art is not art brut, which she defines as works made from materials recuperated from other items (such as the throne pictured below). Relatively few of the works that she promotes fall into this category.

Le Trône
César Dogbo
2004, Mixed media
© Discover Paris!

Aude seeks to promote the most modern image of Africa possible. Living on the continent for seven years, and visiting fifteen countries as a journalist for USA Today and Paris Match fueled this desire. The artists that she represents are city dwellers; they constitute part of the urban fabric of Africa. They are generally well known in their homelands, and can benefit from active promotion in Europe. Aude works to build strong relationships with these artists, because it is difficult to market their works successfully unless she can show the same artists’ works repeatedly to potential clients over a period of months to years.

After having chosen the name La Galerie Africaine for her business, Aude discovered that it was too limiting. Because there are artists in Brazil, the French Caribbean, and other areas of the world who also merit the attention of the French art world, she added the words Visibilité Noire—Black Visibility—to the gallery’s name, so that it would be more inclusive.

The works of two artists in Aude’s latest show, Camara Gueye from Senegal and Marie B from Guadeloupe, particularly attracted my attention. Photographs of some of their works are below.

Details of a Marie B sculpture and a Camara Gueye painting
© Discover Paris!

Camara Gueye
2008, Mixed media
© Discover Paris!

Marie B
2005, Composite
© Discover Paris!

Adolescents sur un banc public
Camara Gueye
2006, Mixed media drawing on cardboard
© Discover Paris!

Le Baiser
Marie B
2008, Composite (sold)
© Discover Paris!

Aude is a “galeriste nomade,” meaning that she does not have a permanent exhibition space in which to show her artists’ works. She therefore has to be very careful when selecting venues for her shows. “Location, location, location,” is what she says is important. The environment in which the art is shown has to “make people dream.”

Two of her favorite venues in Paris accomplish just that. The recent Tout est Possible Tous les Possibles exposition was held in the medieval cloister of the Paroisse des Billettes in the Marais! Aude also likes the Hôtel Mezzara, an art nouveau mansion in the 16th arrondissement built by Hector Guimard. These beautiful, if incongruous, backdrops accentuate the power and originality of the works displayed there.

 Views of the cloister enlivened with art
© Discover Paris!

La Galerie Africaine – Visibilité Noire
Contact: Aude Minart –


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Context Travel said...

Interesting art! I like the combination of different media as well. Is the show still on? If so I'll try to go by and have a look!

About Beauford Delaney said...

The show is now over! But I am sure that Aude Minart would be pleased to correspond with you by e-mail: audeminart(at)hotmail(dot)com.