Meet Diane Audrey Ngako

Creative entrepreneur, gallerist and collector

Meet Diane Audrey Ngako - illustration 1

Portrait of Diane Audrey Ngako © Diane Audrey Ngako

Creative entrepreneur, business owner, gallerist and collector Diane Audrey Ngako is making waves on both the Cameroonian and international art scene. She manages her time between her communication agency, Omenkart, and her gallery, Logmo + Makon, which she opened in November 2022 in Douala, Cameroon. Join us as we chat to Diane about her career so far, her artistic inspirations, and advice to new collectors!

1. Hi Diane! Could you tell us a little about your journey, and how you got to where you are today?

I started my media career in Paris in 2011 at Roots Magazine, Le Monde and TV5 Monde, where I covered African news. In 2016, I returned to settle in Cameroon, where I was born. I set up Baköu publishing house in Cameroon, which published two books: They Call It Africa, We Call It Home and Letters to Cameroon. As the Malian photographer Malick Sidibe said: "Present the true face of Africa, of your brothers, because the world will not end now!"

2. Have you always been passionate about art?

Yes, since my adolescence I have always been very interested in art. I grew up in the French countryside and didn't have direct access to museums or art galleries, but my parents always gave me books and I was passionate about that. When I was around 15 or 16, I started photography. I then continued by starting a collection of old cameras, then Russian dolls… before buying my first painting in 2008 at the age of 17. Studying in the United States and Paris gave me access to an artistic wave that has only continued to grow since.

Meet Diane Audrey Ngako - illustration 1
Meet Diane Audrey Ngako - illustration 1

On the left: photograph of The Voodart Collection, Douala, on the right: photograph of Diane's home © Diane Audrey Ngako

3. What pushed you to found the Douala Art Fair in 2018?

Since returning to Cameroon in 2016, I realized that the culture sector is neglected. It seems that all investments, be they by foreigners or Cameroonians, are in agriculture, health or education. However, I always believed that it was through culture that our country was going to be structured. Cameroon has 27 million inhabitants but only a handful of spaces dedicated to art in Douala. As a response to this, we decided to create a fair to showcase 25 to 30 Cameroonian artists and invite galleries.

Douala Art Fair was born out of the desire to offer a space, a market, in a setting that does not really lend itself to it. We want locals to understand what art is, to be interested in it and develop emotions, hoping that in five or ten years they will find themselves buying works. Take artists like Jean David Nkot, Ajarb Bernard or even Boris Anje, for example. A few years ago their work cost less than €1500. Today, it is worth 20, or even 30 times that. If Cameroonians had invested in those artists at the time, their works would be significantly more valuable today. We want to show local businesses that supporting artists is not only a question of civic action, but it can also bring with it lucrative business too.

4. Let's move on to your inspirations! Which artists, established or emerging, are you inspired by at the moment?

Right now I'm obsessed with Roméo Mivekannin, represented by Cecile Fakhoury Gallery. I also like the work of Deborah Segun, Nuits Balnéraires, Carine Mansan and Charlotte Yonga. The latest work of Ajarb Bernard Ategwa is amazing. I also love the work of Elladj Lincy Deloumeaux, he's part of my collection.

I prefer to focus on younger artists, otherwise I would have talked about Barthelemy Toguo or Bili Bidjocka. Right now, I enjoy discovering new artists in my favorite galleries like DIDA in Abidjan, Galerie MAM in Cameroon or Marianne Ibrahim in Paris.

5. What three things do you look for when choosing a piece of artwork for your collection?

1. I buy works that make me happy and that tell a story. I don't buy what's trendy. I look for poetry in my works of art.

2. I pay a lot of attention to the technique of the artist and their subject.

3. I live in Cameroon so the question of conservation of the work is very important when I buy one, especially when it's photography, a medium that I'm buying more and more of ( Malick Sidibe, Joana Choumali, Angèle Etoundi Essamba…)

Meet Diane Audrey Ngako - illustration 1
Meet Diane Audrey Ngako - illustration 1

On the left: photograph of The Voodart Collection, Douala, on the right: photograph of Diane at the Voodart Collection © Diane Audrey Ngako

6. What do you see for the future of African art?

I don't know if we talk about “European art" in the way that we talk about “ African art"? I think we say “art in Europe" or “European artists." In the future, I would like us to stop saying "African art," and instead name specific African artists and, ideally, differentiate between art from each of our 54 countries. Then, I want people to keep in mind that Contemporary art from the African continent is not “emerging."

African artists are the present and not the future. Both the old and new generations of artists lay big milestones every day. Take Barthelemy Toguo at the Louvre Museum for example. Or even Amoako Boafo. African Artists are here to stay and we do not intend to quit whilst we're ahead, the world is global.

Above all, I hope that we will have more places dedicated to art on the continent, more galleries, more museums, art historians or even exhibition curators. The art market must take on board African collectors. We must not miss the train.

7. Finally, what piece of advice would you give to those just starting their own art collection?

Take time to research and explore (books, galleries, museums, Instagram and of course sites such as Artsper!)

Reflect on your role as a collector. With Voodart Collection, I initially just wanted to collect African artists. Two years ago, however, I evolved. One of my favorite art collectors is Alain-Dominique Perrin, and, like him, I believe we should collect what we love. I'm currently focusing on a range of international living artists. My art collection is 70% African and 30% elsewhere. My latest acquisitions were from French artists: Juliette Barthe, Marianne Herjean and Violette Malinvaud.

Lastly, make sure the work you're buying fits your life. Art lives with you, so you must make sure when buying it that you will be comfortable with the piece throughout your life.

Their favorite artworks

Faceless - Hidden Identities, Ebuka Michael

Faceless - Hidden Identities

Ebuka Michael

Photography - 35.4 x 23.6 inch


Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman in Kinshasa Zaire, Dumisani Karamanski

Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman in Kinshasa Zaire

Dumisani Karamanski

Painting - 59.1 x 70.9 x 1.2 inch