This summer the Saatchi Gallery presents us with a general survey of contemporary art from Africa and Latin America. At first sight, one might not see the difference with all the other contemporary art practices established in the rest of the world (and one might be right). Moving between rooms, it seems that it all looks like “contemporary art”. The works displayed perfectly meet the criteria and could directly be put under the prestigious ‘contemporary art’ label. But at the end, thinking about all the things you’ve seen, you start to realise how much these works are politically and socially engaged with their own context of production. There is a sense of urgency emerging from the artworks. They became real protests, and the artists’ voices can be heard spreading along the wall of the gallery: dialoguing with each other and singing a song of resistance.
Here is a selection of the best artworks presented:
“Through the portrayal of this creature which generates so many positive processes in nature, I aim to create a reflection upon the reality in which we live, which is repeated throughout world history: the displacement of humanity and the resulting immigration, especially in the current era of globalisation. For me, immigration is often the result of the internal problems within a country. The immigrant can be represented by the ant, which in turn embodies duality: positive energy that leads it to construct and create elsewhere is juxtaposed by the notion of infestation. The ant is my protagonist because I think it unites all the positive qualities present in an immigrant: perseverant, constant, and hard-working. But in the same way, it can also represent a plague. It is important to present the duality.” (Interview for the Art Media Agency)
Visit his website.
“The place of children in my work is very important, in that it is these children I love the most, who inspire me, and who are at the foundation of what I create. (…) My works are haunted by the memory of all the children, whether they are red yellow black white, by their dreams, ambition etc…” (from Africa is a country)
Visit the artist’s website.
Antonio Malta Campos
“As the second half of the 80s came, Brazilian artists reacted to the eclecticism of the 80s painting vogue. The Casa 7 artists abandoned their Neo-expressionist work, and became abstract artists, influenced by Brazilian Neo-Concretism. My work also changed, as I developed an interest in Cubism.” (Artist’s statement)
Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou
“Porto-Novo has had a complicated past with slavery, colonialism, vodun and missionaries, and today it’s people bear the marks of all of these. I am documenting the history of my people. My subjects vary from simply people in the streets to more structured portrait shots in the studio. (…) Portrait photography in Benin has always had a split role. On the one hand it has been about making images of a young urban population keen to establish the modernity of their lives. Yet on a deeper level, the portraits record a people caught between tradition and progress – a pre-colonial past and post-colonial future. In a local sense, photography is marked by deep mysticism and dark dramas.” (Interview from Ammo Magazine)
Have a look to the artist’s page on Jack Bell Gallery website.
“I like to cut up the canvas in different sections, work on them individually, fold them and just leave them around for months. I don’t work on a painting with the goal of finishing it or having a complete and finished painting at the end of a work process. (…) My studio is a cradle of dust and dirt, of pollution. I don’t tidy up at the end of each production process. It’s all very much on purpose; it’s continuous process, a machine of which I’m the catalyst. Things get moved around, I step on them, and they get contaminated. It’s not about leaving traces, it’s about letting things mature on their own—like aging cheese or letting a stew cook, they get more flavorful. That’s kind of how these paintings are made.” (Interview from Bomb Magazine)
“I don’t already have a pre-conceived idea in terms of what I want to do. I only look at the space, and then I bring the work in the space for just a few moments. It’s like a temporary performance. (…)For me, the work itself is just a mere site. What the material has gone through, what I think about it, and what people make out of it, depending on the context of wherever I exhibit it, I think that’s what makes the work.” (From framework5 wordpress)
Have a look to the artist’s profile on the Saatchi Gallery website.
“As a photographer, I believe in the power of images and I’ve been exploring the relationship that exists between the environment, human beings, and time. (…) Through my work, I am always focused on the theme of positive change across different cultures, locations and perspectives. I seek to capture areas in need of transformation and improvement, as so many things in our world require it.” (Interview from Bleach Online)
Check the artist’s website.
“The landscapes we occupy are filled with natural and manmade features that reveal curious details about ourselves and our relationship with the environment. Although clearly visible and tangible, they often remain hidden in our peripheral vision, occupying the margins of our day to day existence. I uncover and explore some of these features, presenting each type as a family that expresses more than the sum of its parts.” (Artist’s statement)
To see more photographs, visit his website.
For more information on the exhibition, please go to the Saatchi Gallery website.