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GUILLAUME PIENS

General exhibition commissioner of Art Paris Art Fair

Art Paris Art Fair, a spring event for contemporary art fans!

From 30th March to 2nd April 2017, the 19th edition of Art Paris Art Fair will play host to some 130 modern and contemporary art galleries at the Grand Palais.

We had a discussion with Guillaume Piens, he has been the General exhibition commissioner since 2012. He has given us a preview of this new edition, explaining the choice of focus, namely “Africa in the limelight”.


ARTSPER: What are the great novelties of the 2017 edition?

GUILLAUME PIENS: The 2017 edition stands out due to increased internationalization, it accounts to 52% foreign galleries from 29 countries (compared to 22 in 2016), a refocus towards modern art, the launching of the art award is full of life in 2017, with a partnership with The Fine Art Collective, which will be given to one of the artists presented in the “Promise” sector. Most of all, a major focus on the creations from the African continent, but also those which were carried out during several events on Africa in Parisian institutions, during spring.


ARTSPER: Why focus on putting “Africa in the limelight”?

GUILLAUME PIENS: Since a few years now, one can feel the momentum of artistic creation from the African continent. Events and exhibitions dedicated to Contemporary African art is increasing. It’s time to show, the galleries and artists who are part of this African artistic creation today in France. This focus highlights a new generation of artists, who aren’t very well-known and come from around twenty countries, these include Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Generally speaking, the entire Paris is on African time, during the Art Paris Art Fair. During its festival, La Villette portrays 100% contemporary African creations from all angles and an exhibition namely “African Capital” was entrusted upon Simon Njami. The Chasse et de la Nature Museum has dedicated an exhibition to the South-African artist, Roger Ballen in collaboration with Hans Lemmen, whereas the Quai Branly Jacques Chirac museum explores the “Routes of Africa”. The Dapper museum has dedicated its picture rails to the Senegalese artist, Soly cissé, not to mention Galerie des Galerie offers an exhibition named Le jour qui vient (The following day) put together by Marie-Yemsi, a date with a new generation of African artists, in response to the focus of the fair.


ARTSPER: How did your collaboration with the exhibition commissioner, Marie-Ann Yemsi take place?

GUILLAUME PIENS: Marie-Ann Yemsi is extremely committed when it comes to emerging artists of the African continent and diaspora. Therefore we undertook several trips to present a very openly rich vision of contemporary African creation, which goes far beyond the continent.
Choices are brought about rather quickly, the galleries are split up in various sectors of the fair and aren’t regrouped in one “ghetto”, they offer a range of videos called “the territories of body”, organizing a day to meet the Colony which will brings together the cultural actors and producers together, committed with the same goal in mind.


ARTSPER: Which exhibitors shouldn’t be missed? Which path would you suggest?

GUILLAUME PIENS: Besides from the monograph exhibitions of Mohau Modisakeng at the Whatiftheworld Gallery (who’ll be representing South Africa during the next biennial in Venice), Billie Zangewa at Afronova Gallery or Mario Macilau at Ed Cross Fine Art, one can find twisted objects of Romuald Hazoumé at October Gallery, not to mention the poetic installations of the Cameroonian artist Bili Bidjocka on the stand, Afriart Gallery/Agency in Paris.
The “Promise” sector welcomes many famous emblems like the Londoners Tyburn Gallery or Tiwani Contemporary (who mainly present major works on Gareth Nyandoro’s paper), Cécile Fakhoury d'Abidjan, Art Twenty One from Lagos or even the Angolan gallery ELA-Espaço Art Luanda who defends Lusophone Africa. In addition to the galleries related with this focus, tens of Western emblems have decided to depict their African artists. I would mainly like to quote the Senegalese artist Omar Ba at the Daniel Templon gallery, the South-African Kendell Geers at ADN Galeria or even artists from the Magnin-A gallery (Chéri Samba, Bodys Isek Kingelez...).


ARTSPER: With this new edition, which trends have emerged in contemporary art according to you?

GUILLAUME PIENS: An impossible question because eclecticism dominates our times, and we are more part of a progressive vision of art history.

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