Paris is full of surprises. One of the most compelling is ‘Africa Now’, a three month celebration of creativity from the continent and its diasporas at the Galeries Lafayette, one of the city’s grandest and most glamourous shopping centres. With a pop-up store, custom window displays and a dedicated contemporary art exhibition at the Galerie des Galeries, visitors are invited to explore African creativity in fashion, design and the visual arts from a diverse range of talented makers.
Located on the first floor, the Galerie des Galeries transports you from a manic mall to a tranquil art space for the current exhibition ‘Le Jour Qui Vient’ (The Day That Comes) featuring painting, drawing, photography, textiles, video, and installations. Eloquently curated, each artwork offers a powerful visual engagement along with thought-provoking subject matters and themes, a number of which flow between the works to create a dialogue through the exhibition.
Works made of everyday rubbish have a huge visual impact and metaphorical significance, both in the context of the exhibition as well as connecting to global concerns of waste, poverty and commercialism. Clay Apenouvon‘s ‘Film Noir’ (2017) features black film resembling binbags poured across the walls and floor like an oil-spill; Moffat Takadiwa displays worn toothbrushes shaped into a mouth for ‘Plastic Smile’ (2016); and Turiya Magadlela‘s canvases display evocative shapes and changing tones with the use of stretched nylon tights (‘Untitled 19 & 20’, 2016).
As the exhibition title suggests, this is not a display of artworks from Africa; they are instead creative interpretations of reality, future, identity and perception. They demonstrate that there is not one ‘African art’ but a myriad of voices and assocations – the artists’ backgrounds are just as varied as the artworks on display, with participants from New York, Tunisia, Togo, Zimbabwe, France and Portugal.
Curated by Maria-Ann Yemsi, a specialist in working with artists from Africa and its diasporas, ‘Le Jour Qui Vient’ is an inspiring and engaging introduction to contemporary art of African influence, representing and inviting reflection on African cultural identity as multifaceted, diverse and boundlessly creative.
‘Le Jour Qui Vient’ at the Galerie des Galeries runs until 10 June 2017. ‘Africa Now’ at the Galeries Lafayette runs until 25 June 2017. Visit the website here for more information.