African Art in London

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Meschac Gaba @ Tate Modern

Artist: Meschac Gaba

Draft Room

Draft Room

From: Cotonou, Benin
Medium: Painter. Sculptor. Museum Builder.
Key Themes: Developmental politics. Commercialism. The role of the Western museum. Public space.

About the artist:
– Gaba started out painting until he stumbled across a sack of decommissioned money that had been turned into a bag of confetti. To Gaba this found material of devalued West African CFA franc was ‘magic’ and he eventually used it to make collaged paintings.
– His two year residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 1996 led the Beninese artist to tussle with the question ‘Where do you show African contemporary art?’, as the only place he could find was an ethnographic museum. This spurred him on to create his most ambitious work, the anti-museum creation The Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002
– Until Tate Modern acquired the Museum Gaba was its keeper, he and his family had been living in and conserving it in a large space in Rotterdam

Architecture Room

Architecture Room

About the exhibition:
– The Museum of Contemporary African Art is made up of 12 idiosyncratic rooms that in total took five years to plan.
– The key to Gaba’s exhibition is interaction, visitors are encouraged to get stuck in. There is a Game Room, where you can rearrange puzzles based on African flags to look like abstract paintings. An Art and Religion Room full of random knick-knacks and religious artefacts, occasionally a tarot reader visits.
– There’s also a Museum Restaurant that curators will use to will host dinners and a Museum Shop which contains objects contributed by other artists.
The most consistent elements across the rooms is decommissioned banknotes and the dots and pellets made from them, Gaba.

Art and Religion

Art and Religion Room

What critics say: “…Gaba’s vision tore through my expectations of what art is and how it relates to our ordinary, irreplaceable lives.” – Johnathan Jones, The Guardian

What AAIL says: Gaba is one of two African visionaries that the Tate Modern is making a big deal of this summer. His museum within a museum is an exhibition not to be missed, not least because its free. Gaba’s work is a must for anyone who enjoys interacting with art and key to those thinking about the ways in which African art work is viewed and shared. Also look out for a host of fun events – tours, dinners, talks – accompanying Gaba’s work.


3 July – 22 September

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

Opening Hours
Sunday – Thursday: 10.00–18.00
Friday – Saturday: 10.00–22.00

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Meschac Gaba in Conversation with Chris Dercon @ Tate Modern

Meschac Gaba ©  Kunsthalle-Fridericianum

Meschac Gaba © Kunsthalle-Fridericianum

Beninese artist Meschac Gaba talks to Chris Dercon, Director of the Tate Modern.

The occasion: To mark the Tate’s largest acquisition and display of Meschac Gaba’s work, Museum of Contemporary Africa Art 1997-2002.

The conversation:
An opportunity to hear Gaba speak about his work and its journey to the Tate Modern. The talk will also feature personal anecdotes of Dercon and Gaba’s friendship. They’ve been buddies since 1996/7. In 2000 Dercon interviewed Gaba as Director of the Museum Bojimans Van Benunigen, Rotterdam, and later that year acted as a witness at his wedding. Documentation of the wedding features in the Marriage room of Gaba’s exhibition.

Meschac Gaba in Conversation with Chris Dercon

Starr Auditorium
Wednesday 3 July 2013,
Time: 18.30 – 21.00
£12, concessions available
Ticket holders’ private view of the display after the talk from 20.00–21.00

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

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Samuel Fosso @ Purdy Hicks Gallery

Run, don’t walk down to Bankside for Samuel Fosso’s solo exhibition at Purdy Hicks Gallery, as it’s on only until this Saturday (6th) and is not to be missed. The Cameroonian photographer, celebrated for more than 30 years, was the inaugural winner of Africa’s most prestigious photo festival prize (Prize Rencontres de la Photographie, Bamako, Mali, 1994) and is often compared to Diane Arbus for his self-reflexive portraits.

The Liberated American Woman of the 70's, 1997

The Liberated American Woman of the 70’s, 1997

The exhibition consists of work from three series-
The 70s series, which is all black and white auto portraits taken for his mother from his photographic studio in Bangui, Central African Republic.
African Spirits, a collection of self portraits where Fosso has photographed himself as a variety of African icons, including leading political thinkers and sporting legends.
Tati, commissioned by the French clothing-store Tati, in which he plays with characters that are Western cliches.

Samuel Fosso (until July 6)

Purdy Hicks Gallery
65 Hopton Street
London SE1 9GZ

Tel: (020) 7401 9229

Opening Hours
Monday-Friday: 10am-6pm
Saturday: 11am-6pm