‘Colours of my Dream’ dream opens a fascinating realm of narration and interpretations where art is the conduit, conveys powerful messages and is a decrypting bridge between our world and the unseen. It is a journey without barriers where five artists invite the audience to transcend the constraints of space, time and language. One of professor Djibril Samb’s finest studies, ‘’l’Interpretation des Rêves en Afrique Noire” (Prix Noma 1999), constitutes a major influence on ‘Colours of my Dream’ and is the starting point for the curatorial line of this exhibition. While Western interpretation of dreams often fall within the realm of the individual, Samb contends that dreams can hold other meanings that go beyond the personal experience.
This exhibition is a metaphor for a different take on the common definition of «contemporary African art ». Its title ‘Colours of my Dream’s is a playful nod to Samb’s writings, to Joan Miro’s ‘This is the Color of My Dreams’(1925) a work in which the surrealist painter engages with words, colour and dream, and a subtle comment on the need for plural perspectives that expands our conceptualization on artistic practices by artists of African descent. The five artists showcased were chosen specifically for their talent and because they defy the general categorisation and engage in an abundance of styles, viewpoints and techniques. While they will be sharing a collective space, they each bring a unique approach to contemporary art. In fact, dreams become a gateway to escape the limiting confines of narrow perspectives. Each selected artist uses his or her own symbolic prism to interpret dreams in relation to a larger framework and collective dimension.
Amina Benbouchta has developed a body of work which finds its source in the exploration of painting limits, transforming concepts and observations into images, sculptures and installations. Her pictorial language oscillates between ache and pleasure, simultaneously delicate and powerful, balanced on the razor edge o vulnerability and feminist engagement. At the heart of Benbouchta’s practice is the constant theme of the “double”, a direct challenge to the concept of the single story.
M’barek Bouhchichi incorporates symbols of Berber art, whose principal axiom is the individual within the community, to inform his materially driven practice. Bouhchichi’s art is imbued with poetic exchanges and rooted in the concept of sharing. Geometrical and rectangular shapes are recurrent in his work, the artist often cites philosopher Roland Barthes who considered the rectangle to be the most perfect representation for togetherness and community. Bouhchichi’s introspection involves the questioning of space, borders and division between Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa. The sharecropping system, still prevalent in Southern Morocco, sees the black community working the land year-round but earning only a fifth of the harvest for sustenance. The artist refers to this practice and questions it through rectangular sculptures where 1/5 of his sculptures are cut.
In this exhibition, Ekene Maduka explores the dream realm as a waiting room: a state of skewed reality, reconstructed, redefined. A complex space where the dreamer has no control of his physical body, yet other palpable elements are present and control certain aspects of this alternative space in which he/she is immersed. For her vivid paintings, Maduka uses personal symbolism from the Igbo traditional cosmology, associating fiction and scholarly speculation. Her paintings confront perspectives and invite interrogations: Is this a warped version of what was seen while conscious? Is this a world of its own? Or is it an indefinable sublime experience?
Longinos Nagila’s reductive creation process is deeply meditative, his hand-made gesturing of minute geometrical shapes demands great physical and emotional endurance. As a source of inspiration, Nagila cites Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni in their exploration of spatiality. The artist invites the viewer to lift the cutting side and look beyond what is before his eyes. This opens the possibility for cosmic integration and continuity between personal and transpersonal realms. The viewer’s perspective is challenged and alters depending on his or her position facing the work– interpretations are therefore multiple and infinite. Nagila’s works challenge our perceptions and invite the viewer to question the hierarchy of standpoints. Opting for one vantage point alone would limit our thinking and our experience of the work’s full potential.
Alexis Peskine’s both rigorous and radical afro-centric work channels our collective experiences in a unique yet universal language. The artist brings images to life through a technique he coined as “acupainting”: earth, natural pigments and coffee- stained wood canvases are pierced with thousands of nails, then graced with gold- leaf. Instantly sculptural and pointillistic, his three-dimensional portraits appear to change depending on the viewer’s perspective. Alexis Peskine’s choice of metal nails as a primary medium for his portraits evokes the symbolism and traditions of the Minkisi ‘power figures’ of the Congo Bassin, believed to possess healing properties, granting the medium a link between the visible and invisible worlds. The artist’s work explores ancestral history and wisdom which hold profound importance in our contemporary world. Peskine’s sublime creations is a strong tribute to the pain and suffering black people endure across other continents because of racial injustice and discrimination. The artist’s works offer a space of healing, meditation and serenity in the face of contemporary violence.
“The Dream is indispensable as a structuring element of the collective and individual imagination; it assures an indeterminate and uncontrollable freedom. The dream is by nature a refuge of liberty.” – Djibril Samb
*Born in 1951 in Senegal, Djibril Samb is an eminent Pan-African intellectual, professor, philosopher and researcher. Director of the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire from 1996 to 2005, he is a specialist of ancient Greece and its philosophy, and has won numerous prizes: Grand Prix de la ville de Toulon (1997), Prix La Bruyere/ Silver Medal of the Academie Francaise (1998) for his book “Plato’s first dialogues”, and Prix Noma for “l’Interpretation des Rêves en Afrique Noire’’(1999).
Born on December 24, 1963 in Casablanca, of a Moroccan father and French mother, Benbouchta’s career as an artist officially began in 1986 after her graduation from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she majored in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies. In 1988 and for the next two years, she audited art classes at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris. Her works have been shown in institutions around the world, from the Cairo Bienniale (1993) to the National Museum of Women and the Arts in Washington DC, USA (1997), with her most recent group and solo shows taking place in Rabat, Morocco.
Born in 1975, in Akka, Morocco, Bouhchichi lives and works in Tahanaout next to Marrakech where he also teaches art. Bouhchichi graduated from the Centre Pédagogique Régional, Rabat, Morocco. Through several media, Bouhchichi is developing a work around a tentative language grounded on the exploration of the limits between our inner discourse and its extensions towards the outer world, the present and others. He places his work at the crossroads of the aesthetic and the social, exploring fields of associations as possibilities for rewriting oneself. His artworks have recently been exhibited at international bienniales including the 13th edition of Dak’art, Bienniale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal; Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Germany; MUCEM, Marseille, France; Kulte, Rabat, Morocco. His work is also included in prestigious collections such as the permanent collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France; The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakech, Morocco.
Born in Nigeria in 1996, where she grew up in Kano, the artist is now based in Winnipeg, Canada, having graduated this year with a BFA at the University of Manitoba. Since 2019, Maduka has already held two solo exhibitions including “Walk back home” at La Maison des Artistes Visuels Francophones in Winnipeg (7 February–2 March 2019), and “What is a dream”, presented online with Mirror Mirror Gallery (7 August–25 September 2020). She is a rising star in the art world, her solo exhibition at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London in October 2020 was a sold-out show, and her work is already included at the Museum of Contemporary African Art collection in Marrakech. In an article published on 6 October 2020, Christie’s named Ekene as one of the contemporary African Artists to collect now.
Longinos Nagila was born in Kenya in 1986. Prior to studying at the Fine Arts Bururu Institute, Kenya, Nagila studied 2D and 3D animation. After Bururu, the artist studied documentary and cinema in Apulia Film Commission, in Bari, Italy. He held his first solo exhibition in Lecce, Italy in 2009, and he has since continued to exhibit regularly locally and abroad. Nagila lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya as a member of the Kuona Artist Collective. Nagila was selected among a large pool of artists from Africa as one of only six Art Dubai Residents for 2020
Born in 1979 in Paris, Alexis Peskine’s family has Russian and Brazilian origins. Peskine obtained a BFA in Painting and Photography at Howard University, Washington, DC; an MA in Digital Arts at Maryland Institute College of Arts in Baltimore; and was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. He continued at M.I.C.A to complete a further MFA Degree. He has participated in many international fairs and exhibitions, including the He has participated in many international fairs and exhibitions, including the MAM Modern Art Museum in Rio, Brazil, the 3rd Black Arts World Festival and the Dakar Biennale, Dakar, Senegal; Addis Foto Fest, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Frieze New York, Pulse Art Fair, New York, Miami Art Basel’s Prizm exhibit, Miami, USA; Biennale Internationale de Casablanca, Morocco; AKAA (Also Known As Africa), and Afriques Capitales, La Villette, Paris, France; and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London UK.