Afriques, Artistes D’Hier et D’Aujourd’hui is a new exhibition opening at Fondation Clément, curated by Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau. It explores the resonances between traditional works of African art and contemporary creations by artists such as Cameroonian Barthelemy Toguo and Ivorian Outtara Watts, both of whom will be included in Sotheby’s upcoming sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art on 28 March in London. Other artists featured in the sale include Cheri Samba and Ransome Stanley.
In an interview with Sotheby’s France Consultant Anne Giscard d'Estaing, Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau discussed the decision to bring works of art to Martinique, her curatorial scope and the Fondation Dapper’s future projects.
Anne Giscard d'Estaing: Why have you chosen Martinique and the Fondation Clément for your first major international exhibition since the closing of the Fondation Dapper in Paris?
Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau: Much of the Dapper’s loyal audience come from Martinique and Guadeloupe. We have already tried to stage several exhibitions in Martinique, over fifteen years ago, unfortunately, at that time, the necessary infrastructure for receiving and accommodating ancient works of art was not yet in place. At the invitation of the President of the Fondation Clément, Bernard Hayot, Fondation Dapper seized this exceptional opportunity to invest in a patrimonial land and to help the people of Martinique learn more about the artistic practices that make up their cultural heritage.
AGD: When you held classical African art exhibitions at the Fondation Dapper, the first room was always dedicated to contemporary African art. What was the purpose of that?
CF-L: My desire was not to affirm a general connection between the artists of yesterday and today. Instead of the term "affiliation", I prefer the term "resonance" because the sources of inspiration for contemporary creativity from the African Continent or its diasporas are multiple. Moreover, this approach is not valid for all artists and many do not want to link their creative approach to older art forms. It is an exceptional experience because it is a place that is charged with many memories and emotions, especially if like me, you are interested in the history of the area’s Afro-descendants.
AGD: Have you always had a passion for both classical and contemporary art from the continent? How did they begin?
CF-L: I do not have a preference and the way I perceive a work of art does not change between the two categories. I like music, dance and literature, but I am also interested and touched by all visual arts, not only those linked to Africa. I think that if art (in whatever form) triggers emotion and a feeling of serenity, it allow us to go beyond ourselves and overcome obstacles.
AGD: You once said that one of the reasons Fondation Dapper closed its doors in 2017 was because it’s important for an institution to transform itself and continuously reinvent itself from the inside out. Could you reveal your upcoming projects?
CF-l: Passions aside, what motivated Michel Leveau to create the Fondation Dapper thirty five years ago, was the desire to make a real contribution to the promotion of ancient art from sub-Saharan Africa. That is what we did in Paris. This is one of the reasons why we want to do more and more exhibitions which combine - without necessarily confronting - ancient works of art and contemporary art. Working on cross-themed exhibitions stimulates reflection and the desire to continue learning.
We are in the beginning stages of several exhibitions and projects within and for Latin America, the United States and Senegal, and Dapper will participate in the next Dakar Biennale, opening in May. Running parallel to all this, there will also be a satellite Dapper event on the island of Goree, which will include several world renowned artists. You will be able to discover strong works, sculptures, installations and urban art, all of which will speak to the broader public.
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