Monday, June 30, 2014

10 Artworks Enjoyed at Dakar Biennale 2014

The 11th edition of the Dakar Biennale , which for a month featured 61 contemporary artists from Africa and the diaspora in its main exhibition, was a powerful showcase, with several pieces endorsing the renewed energy of the continent’s artists and their growing relevance on the global stage.

I had the opportunity to be in Dakar in the first week of the opening of the biennale. Personally this visit became a real and unique meeting point of those that are truly interested in contemporary African art. Most exciting were meetings with other artists, who came from  Benin, Togo, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and obviously from Senegal. To be honest, communication was very minimal as there was a language barrier. Most of the artists l met barely spoke English, only French. As a result l got less information from them about their creative processes, but naturally shared a common love for the arts and the continent.  Then there was the encounter with collectors, journalists, directors of art institutions, the curators and friends over dinners, exhibition openings or parties. It at best  a true networking experience.

 I felt  that the fact that l could not understand French, allowed me to personally interact and enjoy the artworks without being bombarded by the opinions of others or of the text written about the artworks. When l looked at an artwork, I took my time to carefully see  what was in front of me and allow my mind to adjust to what l am seeing , providing each artwork my undivided attention. Come to think of it, l felt that at times we do not trust their eyes and need the information and opinions of others to maybe spark an interest in a work of art thus depriving us of the total enjoyment at a personal level.

I must say the biennale itself was very decently curated, despite the shortcomings such as that of  last-minute schedule changes, repairs and missing artwork at the Biennale Village. Much more interesting was the concurrent OFF site events and exhibitions. I mostly enjoyed the exhibition of Osman Sows sculptures and the Abstractions Legitimes at the Pavillon Royal Air Maroc. 

However, I felt that overally it was a bit too heavily inclined to installations, photography and video art , and that less of quality paintings; drawings or sculptures. I guess this is subjective, as art is all about taste and it seems a number of museums, curators and institutions are going for new mediums, even though paintings or sculptures are still being recognized. Below are images of 10 artworks showcased at the biennale that gave me the ‘ahaa’ moment as l understood the inherent meaning of these works of art. 

Osman Sow

Osman Sow

Toni Okujeni work at Village du Arts, Dakar, Senegal

Toni Okujeni's work at Village du Arts, Dakar, Senegal

  Sandiry Niang at Village Des Arts, Dakar, Senegal

Abdoulaye Konate

Kader Attia, Independance Tchao, mixed media instillation sculpture, 2014

Olu Amoda, Sunflower, painted repurposed steel belt, spoon and mild steel, 205cm in diameter.

Barkinado Bocoum, Chemin des epines, triptych, acrylic on canvas, 275x270cm

Unknown artist, untitled and unsigned

Look forward to Dak'Art 2015!

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