Sadikou Oukpedjo,  Animal awareness

Since 2012, the Cécile Fakhoury gallery, based in Abidjan in Ivory Coast, has worked towards promoting contemporary art on the African continent. It hosts solo and collective exhibitions that aim to boost creativity and diversity on the African scene. Until 11 June 2016, the gallery is presenting, for the first time, the work of Togolese artist Sadikou Oukpedjo. Art Media Agency went to meet the artist at his “Anima” exhibition in Abidjan. What’s your background? I started sculpting with my art teacher in high school — he was a sculptor. He was the first to notice my drawings, and he asked me to help him in his sculpture workshop. I stopped school in Year 10, but continued sculpture. In 1998, I joined the workshop of Paul Ahyi, a sculpture master and one of the pioneers of contemporary art in Togo. He trained me for four years in painting, sculpture and ceramics. In 2002, my first exhibition was held at the Centre Culturel Français in Cotonou (Benin). After that, my works were presented in other countries, at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2014 in London and the Art Twenty One space in Lagos (Nigeria). How did Paul Ahyi influence you? It may seem strange but he didn’t have any influence on my work. I fled what he did. Everyone trained by Paul Ahyi has had trouble pulling away from his work; many still sculpt and draw like him. I think that this is why I was noticed elsewhere. I do the opposite of what he did. It’s your first exhibition at the Cécile Fakhoury gallery. Cécile Fakhoury discovered my work at the Dakar Biennial a few years ago. At first, it was Koyo Kouoh, a Cameroonian curator living in Dakar, who noticed me. She put us in contact. Your...

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Jānis Avotiņš wins the 5th Prix Jean-François Prat

The 5th Prix Jean-François Prat was awarded to Jānis Avotiņš on Wednesday 13 April 2016 at the Palais de Tokyo by Bertrand Lavier who chaired this edition. Born in 1981, Jānis Avotiņš lives and works in Riga (Latvia). A graduate of the Art Academy of Latvia, he is represented by the gallery Ibid. (London – Los Angeles). He was shown at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga in 2016, the gallery Ibid. in London in 2015, the Vera Munro gallery in Hamburg in 2014 as well as the Johnen Galerie in Berlin in 2013. His work offers distant aerial painting representing different temporalities. The work holds an existential dimension that touches on political issues by updating certain images from the Soviet press. He creates almost evanescent images — somewhat reminiscent of Gerhard Richter — that are suggestive of the reconstruction of memory and the difficulty of perceiving reality. For the 5th year of the Prix Jean-François Prat (and the 50th birthday of the law firm Bredin Prat), the Palais de Tokyo hosted an exhibition from 14 to 17 April presenting the 14 finalists from the different editions of the Prix. An opportunity to see Farah Atassi, Jānis Avotiņš, Zander Bloom, Guillaume Bresson, Nicolas Chardon, Mathieu Cherkit, Philippe Decrauzat, Stelios Faitakis, Maude Maris, Anne Neukamp, Gavin Perry, Raphaëlle Ricol, Matt Saunders and Rezi van...

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Death of Malick Sidibé (1935-2016)

Malick Sidibé is a Malian photographer known for his portraits of Mali nightlife in the 1960s. Born in 1935 to a family of shepherds in what was formerly French Sudan, he was offered, in 1952, a place in the Ecole des Artisans Soudanais in Bamako. He acquired his first studio in 1962. Very popular, he was nicknamed “the eye of Bamako”. He is well known for his photographs of discos that capture the spirit of youth in the 1960s-1970s, a period of deep political changes following Mali’s independence in 1960. He has been exhibited in various institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, and the CAV Coimbra Visual Arts Centre in Coimbra. In 2007, he was the first African artist to be awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, in recognition of his entire career. Robert Storr, artist, critic and curator, has said the following about him: “No African artist has done more to enhance photography’s stature in the region, contribute to its history, enrich its image archive or increase our awareness of the textures and transformations of African culture in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first than Malick...

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Death of Julie Becker (1972-2016)

Artist Julie Becker has died at the age of 44 in Los Angeles. After a stint at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin in 1991, she returned to Los Angeles and obtained a BFA and a MFA at CalArts. Her work presents miniature architectures and dioramas. She was the youngest participant at the 23rd Biennale of Sao Paulo. Her work blends humour and imagination, creating new narrations by associating images from popular culture. In Suburban Legend (1999), she synchronised The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for the film’s new soundtrack. She has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Guggenheim, the Hessel Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in...

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A Blade of Grass announces its 2016 Fellows

A Blade of Grass, an association that supports artists whose works have a political or social element, has announced the names of its Socially Engaged Art Fellows. The fellowship – consisting of a $20,000 endowment and access to the association’s resources – is granted to 5 artists and 3 collectives. The 2016 Fellows are: Xenobia Bailey, Black Quantum Futurism, Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist, Chinatown Art Brigade, Joseph Cuillier, Simone Leigh, Rulan Tangen and Frances Whitehead, and Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin. The Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin collective will receive a fellowship jointly financed by A Blade of Grass and the David Rockefeller Fund for their Freedom Chamber project presenting sound sculptures that reflect the experiences of individuals imprisoned in New Orleans. The executive director of A Blade of Grass, Deborah Fisher, has commented on the institution’s choices: “These are artists who are changing what art is, who it’s for, and what it does. We nurture these artists in a way that is specifically geared toward increasing the effectiveness and visibility of their work, and understanding its value both within the contemporary art discourse and the broader...

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