By John Owoo
(In Abidjan – La Côte d’Ivoire)
A large-scale exhibition of works by thirty African artists opened last Wednesday at the newly constructed Musée des Cultures Contemporaines Adama Toungara, which is located in the sprawling Abidjan suburb of Abobo.
Opened by the Ivorian first lady Madam Dominique Ouattara, the traveling exhibition, which commenced in the Moroccan commercial capital Casablanca in 2019, is a bold move that is showcasing African artworks that are usually seen in European capitals.
Dubbed “Prête-Moi Ton Rêve” and curated by Ivorian academic Prof. Yacouba Konate and Moroccan art consultant Brahim Alaoui, the exhibition, which is easily the largest touring show in Africa, also aims at reversing the obscurity of African artists on the continent by presenting their works and personalities to crowds in various countries.
Organized by the Fondation pour le Développement de la Culture Contemporaine Africaine (FDCCA) under its able director Fihr Kettani, the show emphasizes the importance of collaboration across the continent in changing the rubrics of engagement with African art.
Artists on show include Ghanaian painter / sculptor Kofi Setordji, Algerian painter Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Ivorian sculptor Jems Robert Kobobi, Egyptian painter Adel El Siwi, Malian weaver Abdoulaye Konate, South African sculptor Jane Alexander, Congolese painter Chéri Samba, Beninois painter / sculptor Dominique Zinkpe and Cameroonian painter Barthélémy Toguo.
With a unique format in showcasing works, curators in each city are at liberty to interpret and put their own spin on the exhibition. In this direction – the focus will be on a Pan-African event that accedes to the needs of local people – thereby making it more accessible to various communities, while highlighting the distinctions of African cities.
The exhibition is equally meant to act as an inspiration for young African artists as they aspire to show their works on the continent since they have a lot to offer in the development of Africa. It also aims at ensuring that collectors recognize the continent as a place worthy of attention and erode the notion that artists would only gain attention after leaving Africa.
It is expected to take place in seven cities – Casablanca (Morocco), Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Lagos (Nigeria), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Cape Town (South Africa) and Marrakech (Morocco) – all of which have stimulating new art markets.
“Prête-Moi Ton Rêve”, which also marked the official opening of Musée des Cultures Contemporaines Adama Toungara, ends on Sunday April 19, 2020.