“Art Paris Art Fair”

Marie-Ann Yemsi: “Our future is African”

The curator of the upcoming Bamako Photography Encounters retraces her passion for contemporary African art and the belated discovery of the wealth of this creative continent. Following studies that led her to managerial positions for international groups, Marie-Ann Yemsi made a sea change in 2005 when she set up Agent Créatif(s), an agency that would allow her to combine her appetite for contemporary art and her thirst for entrepreneurship. Her German and Cameroonian origins led her from voyage to voyage, from adventure to adventure. Not merely limiting herself to the task of supervising the African focus of Art Paris Art Fair, she is also curating the exhibition “Le jour qui vient” at the Galerie des Galeries. In December, the public can also discover her selection of video artists and photographers at the 11th Bamako Photography Encounters. Marie-Ann Yemsi explains to us why this is now finally the time of contemporary African art, and why it’s long overdue! When does your passion for contemporary art date back to? My early childhood. My parents always took me to museums. We also travelled a great deal, to several continents, which probably helped me to forget a certain openness to looking at things… After I spent a first part of my career in the luxury and communication sectors, I wanted to find an activity which would let me to live out my passion. This is how I set up Agent Créatif(s), a structure at the crossways between a consultancy firm and a project-support agency, specialised in contemporary African art and artistic production. Tell us about how you met Guillaume Piens and the organisers of Art Paris. I met him at my “Odyssées africaines” exhibition at the Brass in Brussels, presenting 16 Southeast African artists. These were key pieces by a young generation that...

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Fair play

There are plenty of art events on in Paris this March: five remarkable fairs and exhibitions a gogo. Everything you need to plan an enthralling itinerary, with stops dedicated to drawing, contemporary African art and design… Are you ready for a suite of springtime fairs? From 30 March to 2 April… It’s THE must event: Art Paris Art Fair, this year welcoming 139 galleries from 29 countries. Half of the exhibitors are from overseas, and the fair has attracted many new faces this year, with 50 % of the participants being new galleries. An unmissable gathering for the art world and the general public, this fair, held at the Grand Palais, allows visitors to discover what’s happening in the art world with an ever-savvy focus on overseas scenes. This year, its general curator, Guillaume Piens, is backed up by exhibition curator and cultural consultant Marie-Ann Yemsi (also to curate the next Bamako Encounters), who has helped to select top galleries from the African continent – including the Maghreb – and its diaspora, most of which are exhibiting for the first time in France at the event. Amongst the twenty or so galleries singled out for this African focus, a few come from very diverse horizons: Uganda is present via the Afriart Gallery from Kampala; there’s also Nigeria, with Art Twenty One based in Lagos; the Ivory Coast is represented by the Fondation Charles Donwahi from Abidjan; not forgetting South Africa, with Whatiftheworld Gallery from Cape Town. The October Gallery from London, representing El Anatsui in particular, and Parisian gallery Magnin-A, namely exhibiting Chéri Samba, present great classics in modern and contemporary African art. Also of note: the solo show accorded to South African artist Kendell Geers by Barcelona-based ADN Galeria. Emerging African creation is also represented by stands in...

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Art Paris Art Fair puts the spotlight on Africa in 2017

From 30 March to 2 April 2017, Paris’ spring fair, Art Paris Art Fair, will be held with 140 galleries from 20 countries, in the Grand Palais. As every year, the focus will be on post-war European art. Following Asia, Art Paris Art Fair is continuing its scrutiny of new scenes by putting Africa under the spotlight in 2017. Curatorship of the project is in the hands of Marie-Ann Yemsi, a freelance exhibition curator and cultural consultant. The “Solo Show” section will be held for the third time since 2015, partnered by Bus Expo and Air France coaches, and will offer a one-month travelling exhibition of works by five artists selected among the solo shows from the 2017 edition. Art Paris Art Fair also promotes young creation with its “Promesses” sector, reserved to galleries under six years old. Digital video projections on the façade of the Grand Palais are also on the programme, in partnership with the company...

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Art Paris Art Fair turns to Africa

The next edition of Art Paris Art Fair, scheduled for 30 March to 2 April 2017 (opening on 29 March), will be focusing on Africa. Loyal to its desire to discover and present foreign scenes, Art Paris Art Fair will be honouring the African continent in 2017. Curating this focus will be Marie-Ann Yemsi, cultural consultant and independent exhibition curator. Her last exhibition, “Odyssées Africaines”, at Le Brass in Brussels in 2015, matched history with our present through the works of African artists who are not so well known in Europe. The fair will seek to reveal the richness and diversity of Africa, representing artists from the continent but also its diaspora. Stands will be spread out throughout the fair and not grouped in one sector as was the case this year. Parallel to the fair, a symposium, a video programme and special projects will be presented to show a wide panorama of African creation. Art Paris Art Fair will also be placing an accent on emerging creation and young galleries, through the “Promises” sector that will be gathering twelve galleries. Digital creation will also be...

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Claudine Drai, Letter papers

Encountering Claudine Drai’s work is like encountering a world. At gallery 111’s stand at Art Paris Art Fair, it was possible to sight the first lands, fashioned from paper. Working with this substance as if it were a “material for tearing”, Claudine Drai seems to tirelessly explore the fringes of worlds, “the frontier of consciousness”, where sometimes surprising meetings can be made – like that with Olivier Kaeppelin, president of the Fondation Maeght to which the artist recently gave one of her works. How do you feel about the fair’s energy? I don’t really feel any energy but I feel the emotions of people about the works. There is not the energy that I might have felt at other fairs where favourites stood out immediately and purchases were made straight away. There is a lot of waiting and uncertainty amongst visitors. But we’ve had some magnificent moments of emotion. I feel that my work has touched some visitors, sometimes beyond my expectations. This injected a bit of energy into me, even if people are more careful about going on to buy. My world needs to be tamed. When my world is discovered for the first time, time is needed to interiorise it. What I find very beautiful is these initial approaches, these first looks that open up pathways. The work needs to be experienced with people who come to see it, and to watch how it will continue to live in them. These are extremely long internal processes. Works are not products. A lot is being said about paper this year, with the fairs focusing on drawing and Korean artists working with Hanji paper. You work with silk paper and Tengusho paper. How do you see this material? I’ve always used paper. Paper is a material, it’s a world....

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