Having opened its flagship space in Abijan, Ivory Coast, in 2012, Galerie Cécile Fakhoury has since opened two more galleries in Dakar, Senegal and Paris, France. Here, director, Cécile Fakhoury, shares with us what the journey to becoming a gallerist has been like, what excites her about the African contemporary art scene and what visitors to ICTAF 2019 can expect from the Galerie Cécile Fakhoury booth.
Q: Can you share the story of how Galerie Cécile Fakhoury came to be?
A: I have been frequently travelling to Ivory Coast for about ten years. When I finally settled in Abidjan, the encounters I was having with artists and the vibrant artistic energy led me toward the idea of creating an art space. Abidjan is a growing city and a key location in West Africa. There was (and still is) a lot of opportunities to develop in the cultural field and in terms of the art market so the model of the art gallery quickly became obvious to me and the adventure started in September 2012. These past 6 years have been very encouraging and stimulating, and as a consequence of it, the gallery has kept growing with the opening of a new space in Dakar, Senegal and a showroom in Paris, France in May, 2018.
Q: It’s a relatively young gallery and you are a young gallerist on the contemporary African art scene. What has been the biggest learning you’ve had on this journey?
A: What’s new in contemporary African art today is its relationship to the world. There is a growing interest in the art scene and artists are expressing viewpoints that are more universal and global than solely African; consequently, they are creating a dynamic and challenging space to think and create. While travelling through different African countries, I have had the opportunity to meet artists and discover a rich cultural landscape. I have seen things with a different angle, met artists who have a fascinating approach to the world. These artists have a different perception of the context they live in and are more connected to the ‘global contemporary’. They are aware of their origins and are resorting to their rich heritage often made of diverse histories and geographies to reveal another approach based on an open vision. Evolving at their side as a gallerist is a very rewarding experience.
Q: Earlier this year you opened a second venue in Dakar Senegal, how has it been received?
A: We open the second gallery space in Dakar during the last Biennial. It was a good timing because the past few years, Dakar Biennial has been more and more attractive within the international art scene. This city has a long and strong history with the arts so the gallery landed on fertile soil too. On the other hand, there is a real renewal in the artistic scene there, a new generation of cultural actors taking initiatives to assess their ideas and place within the global art scene; and, and of course, a new generation of very promising artists.
Q: What is it about contemporary African art at the moment that excites you?
A: I have noticed for few years now that a new cartography of the Art has been taking shape on a global scale. A geopolitical mutation of art is occurring in the current context of the movement of economic development towards emerging countries. Consequently, a part of the world such as West Africa has progressively started to assert its position among the international art market too. It is very exciting and stimulating to work in such a context.
Q: Can you share with us what to expect from your booth at the 2019 Investec Cape Town Art Fair?
A: For Investec Cape Town Art Fair this year, the gallery will be showing works by three artists Vincent Michéa, Sadikou Oukpdejo and Kassou Seydou. Three very different aesthetics at first sight, but these three artists share a common questioning on how to tell contemporary tales of human lives; sometimes referring to the daily matter of life as for Kassou Seydou; resorting to personal memorabilia for Vincent Michéa, or again quoting mythology for Sadikou Oukpedjo.
Image Credit: Sedyou Kassou’s, One Human World #2, 2018.