Art Paris Art Fair 2017: Recognition for African artists, at last

From March 30th to April 2nd, 2017, Paris’s Grand Palais is hosting 139 galleries of modern and contemporary art from 29 countries on the occasion of the 19th Art Paris Art Fair.

AMADOU SANOGO - Le Silence - 2014 - Galerie Magnina

After Russia, China, South-East Asia, and South Korea, the 2017 edition of Art Paris is celebrating Africa with a unique view on an emerging generation of artists that the art world had snubbed (or refused to see) for way too long.

Going beyond the clichés of the exotic fantasy, the fair offers a new perspective on African art thanks to the leadership of cultural consultant and independent exhibition curator, Marie-Ann Yemsi.
Yemsi installed a real dialogue between European galleries showcasing African artists, and African galleries. Twenty of them originated from from South Africa, Angola, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, Tunisia and Europe showcase a new generation of artists from both the African continent itself and its diaspora (Billie Zangewa, Garethy Nyandoro, Mohau Modisakeng, Moffat Takadiwa, Mario Macilau, Bili Bidjocka….).

Running alongside established African artists such as Romuald Hazoumè or Chéri Samba, many of these emerging artists, born between 1980 and the early 1990’s, are presented for the first time in France.

This young generation, who grew up in the age of social media and benefited from residencies outside of their home countries, subjugates by its ability to decipher the present. One is particularly struck by the fact that this edition of Art Paris does the brilliant and essential work of refreshing the backward vision that France had of Africa.

Still haunted by its colonial past and ten years after former French president Nicolas Sarkozy declared that “the tragedy of Africa is that it has not fully entered history”, it seems that the country of Voltaire and Rousseau is finally entering the present and realising the wealth and diversity of the African continent’s art.

After years of amnesia, the global art world is eventually catching up too.