Friday, September 9, 2011

Renaissance of Angolan Art

Following their country’s emergence from decades of strife, Angola’s artists are making their unique contribution to the wider contemporary art scene of southern Africa. The interest in Angolan art is growing rapidly.  This interest is fueled by the creative output of the local artists who are now beginning to appear, and reappear, and also by the global interest being shown in all art coming from Africa through exhibitions such as the highly successful Africa Remix, just concluding its tour to Europe and Japan.

Trienal of Luanda, is an art 'mega-project' with a budget around $6 million, was recently with a continental-focused African Imagery Observatory. The main objective of the Trienal is to build a new Center of Contemporary Art in Luanda which houses an art collection of 500 items representing 25 African countries.

An example of one Angolan artists’ exposition at the Art Center is entitled Angola Combatente, which opened in Luanda’s Soso gallery. This is a project to promote young Angolan artists and to give them an opportunity to determine the cultural and political contours of their country. The show was a big success and demonstrated different approaches of the Angolano combatente (Angolano combatante means Angolan soldier, a term created to show that in time of war the Angolan population were all soldiers and patriots). In the provinces and in collaboration with the local administrative bodies, the Trienal will be presented as an open-air cinema show, projecting the events as they happen in Luanda.

Meanwhile, Africa Remix features the work of several leading Angolan artists: Fernando Alvim, Paulo Capela, António Ole, Frank Lundangi and N’dilo Mutima.

Born in Luanda in 1963, Fernando Alvim is a leading influence in Angolan contemporary art. He has created several art-related projects in Europe, the United States and Africa. Fernando Alvim has participated in art exhibitions all over the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Biennale of Sidney, Australia, the Art Museum of La Rochelle, France, the Contemporary Art Centre of Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal, La Louviere, Brussels, and also in Dakar, Senegal.

Paulo Capela, a self-taught artist and fervent Catholic, places his own paintings and drawings alongside objects in private shrines to represent an ideal world in which communism and capitalism co-exist.

António Ole, a famous Luanda-born painter and philosopher, is admired by collectors the world over. He has as one of his long-term projects the creation of a series of photo-walls featuring museque dwellings which, through images of decay, destruction and war, speak of the will to survive and thus of Angola’s past, present and future.

Born in  Maquela do Zombo in 1950, Frank Lundangi left the country to become footballer in France, but found his way through painting and sculpture, and now lives in Paris – one of the most sought-after African artists there.

N’dilo Mutima , another young artist and photographer is also gaining a strong reputation in Europe.

The influence of these five and whose inspiration has been shaped by the recent past, will have a significant effect on the art of southern Africa during the next decade at least. (Taken from Sonangol Magazine)

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