Eva Barois De Caevel. Credits: Étienne Dobenesque
SWAB GATE consists of solo presentations of African and Caribbean artists, living and working in Africa and Europe, or between these continents, with a strong focus on painting.
The participating galleries for this section of the fair have been selected and invited by curator Eva Barois De Caevel.
The selected galleries are located both in Africa and in Europe.
This program aims first at presenting the work of four great contemporary painters, but it also hopes to question the history and the actuality of categories such as the one we use here — painting as a medium and the geographical origin.
Born in 1981 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lives and works in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gallery Angalia, France
-Hamid El Kanbouhi
Born in 1976 in Larrache, Morocco.
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Gallery Van De Weghe, Belgium
Born in 1989 in Thomassin, Haiti.
Lives and works in Haiti.
Maëlle Gallery, France
Born in 1987 in Rusape, Zimbabwe.
Lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.
First Floor Gallery Harare, Zimbabwe
The artists whose work I selected for this program inside SWAB are Congolese, Zimbabwean, Haitian, and Moroccan. They are painters or also painters.
If one remembers the historical and yet quite recent struggles during which the African and African-American artists had to negotiate their right to modern painting, to abstract painting, to conceptual painting, while having to answer for their (desired or criticized) “traditionalism”, thus one realizes that painting offers a fertile ground, at least as fertile as other ones, to question assignations, temptations of essentialism, appetite for exoticism, that any non-Western artist has to deal with.
This selection also hopes to produce a dialogue in the space of the fair itself, that could exist between the works, beyond the booth walls: Steve Bandoma, Wycliffe Mundopa, Sébastien Jean and Hamid El Kanbouhi are four artists who paint nightmares, fantasies, bodies on which we can read sufferings, haunted still lives.
They work on paper or canvas, with gouache, acrylic, pastel, oil, ink; they are — maybe — expressionists.
Kura Shomali, whose work I admire a lot, says: “Art is a straight jacket and I do not know how to wear it; an inner fear of not being able to meet the collective fears. Only art can soothe.”
I found interesting to bring together two categories — and their fundamental impotence as categories: one related to a medium, the other to a geographical area.
I was happy to believe that this “African painting” conveys above all a Humanism, here, in Europe, where people collect it and give it prizes. A Humanism according to Edward Saïd, “a coming Humanism”, and not its substitute from the Enlightenment — the will to understand the others that, as long as it is fiercely authentic, excludes any domineering ambition.
Text by Eva Barois De Caevel
Hamid El Kanbouhi - Strand - Oil on canvas 2011. 200x200cm
About the curator:
Eva Barois De Caevel was born in France in 1989. She is assistant curator at RAW Material Company, Dakar, and works as an independent curator, researcher and art critic. She is based in Paris. She was the recipient of the ICI 2014 Independent Vision Curatorial Award.
Eva graduated from the Université de Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV in Contemporary Art History in 2011 and in Curatorial Training in 2012. Her research focused primarily on moving images. Her main interests were the evolution of experimental cinema, the history of production structures and the artistic entities behind them, and the question of the porousness of borders between cinematographic genres. During her first year of Master’s, she worked on a cultural study of the interactions between contemporary creative arts and cinema. During the second year, she wrote a critical history of structures dedicated to the production and promotion of artists’ films, while she was working for the production structure Red Shoes | SOME SHOES. She took part in the film shoots of Clément Cogitore and Neïl Beloufa. More recently, she worked with photographer and videographer Mohamed Bourouissa.
Jointly to this research, she has been working on postcolonial questions and socially engaged practices in contemporary art, and on their interaction: how socially engaged practices in contemporary art can become think tanks on postcolonial issues concurrently with academic research. This led her to travel to Morocco, Madagascar, and Senegal, and to study contemporary art exhibition structures in Africa and the modes of collaboration and relation between Western structures and African ones and more specifically the way otherness is dealt with and the issue of mimicry. Through these experiences, she started considering the necessity of specific curatorial presentations that challenge the Western patterns on which the design and making of exhibitions are globally based. Within this context, she completed a curatorial residency at RAW Material Company – centre for art, knowledge and society, Dakar, which consisted of coordinating a long year program (January 2014 to January 2015) on sexual liberties in Africa through contemporary African art. She curated the first event of the program: Who Said It Was Simple, a curatorial proposal based on archives. The exhibition included screenings, debates, a performance, and a seminar. She is currently working on an upcoming publication documenting the program. At the end of this residency, she was offered a position as Assistant Curator at RAW Material Company. She also continued her collaboration with its director Koyo Kouoh, working with her on several projects, such as Body Talk - Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Work of Six African Women Artists (at WIELS, Brussels, February-May 2015, currently at Lunds konsthall, June-September 2015, and to be held at Frac Lorraine, Metz, October-January 2015), Streamlines, a project which makes the oceans the metaphorical focal point for an international group exhibition which will examine the cultural repercussion of the global stream of goods and trade between the South and the North (to be held at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, in December 2015), and the 37th EVA International, Ireland Biennial of Contemporary Art (April-July 2015).
Eva was part of the first TURN Meeting “On Perspectives, Facts and Fictions” (June 26-28, 2014, Berlin), a project of Kulturstifung Des Bundes, Germany. The TURN fund was established in 2012 with the purpose of promoting artistic exchange and cooperation between German and African artists and institutions. During the meeting she hosted a talk with writer and curator Simon Njami about appropriation and rewriting of History according to postcolonial issues. Eva contributes to the online reviews Contemporary And (“Platform For International Art From African Perspectives”) and AFRIKADAA (“Afro Design and Contemporary Arts”). She was a member of the jury of the 60th Salon de Montrouge in June 2015 and is a member of the jury of the upcoming 7th Celeste Prize. As an art critic she recently wrote an essay about the artist Thu Van Tran. Her upcoming projects will focus on ways to display colonial legacies and contemporary imperialisms in vernacular and daily elements (sexuality, language, body image, garments, food, etc.) through art forms and specific curatorial tools.
Eva is also co-founder of Cartel de Kunst, an international collective of 10 curators based in Paris. Cartel de Kunst is an association created in 2011 whose members are Kuralaï Abdukhalikova (Kazakhstan), Viviana Birolli (Italy), Adélaïde Blanc (France, Mauritius), Manon Gingold (France), Éric Jarrot (France), Salma Lahlou (Morocco), Ana Mendoza Aldana (Guatemala), Alexandra Perloff-Giles (United Kingdom, USA), Gloria Sensi (Italy), Jaufré Simonot (France). Cartel de Kunst is a solidarity network of emerging curators, a tool for support and dialogue aiming to think about the very function of the curator and the opportunity to work as a group. Cartel de Kunst is deeply committed in working with independent places such as Mains d’Œuvres and La Générale en Manufacture, both located in the Parisian suburb and involved in developing communal modes of operation and community outreach. Cartel de Kunst works in close touch with the Parisian emerging scene and very young artists. It pursues since its beginnings a close collaboration with the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Ana Mendoza Aldana was selected among 500 international applicants to be part of the 21 young curators (or curators group) invited to curate an exhibition during the “Nouvelles Vagues” season at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2013. She invited Cartel de Kunst to present The Floating Admiral, an exhibition working as an exquisite corpse inspired by The Detection Club methods (a group of British mystery writers formed in 1930). The exhibition and the catalogue, written communally, retrace the death of painting. Each curator, through one section of the exhibition and an essay, takes up the investigation where it was left off by his or her predecessor to offer a depiction of contemporary painting.