J’ai deux amours
“J’ai deux amours” … On 18 September a new gallery space is due to open across 400m2 at 18 Avenue Matignon, in Paris, run by the French-Somali art dealer Mariane Ibrahim, with an inaugural exhibition that takes its title from the most famous song by Josephine Baker, star of the Parisian music-halls during the 1920s.
Entering the Pantheon
Coincidentally, the French government recently announced that this same Josephine Baker, the resistance fighter who campaigned against racism, will be entering the Pantheon in November 2021. She will be the first black woman to join the circle of great men celebrated by the French republic.
An impressive list of professionals
Mariane Ibrahim has the gift of being in tune with the times. While she began working in the art trade ten years ago in Seattle, and later in Chicago, she has now chosen Avenue Matignon in Paris as a second location for her business. She joins an impressive list of professionals from the contemporary art world who have moved or are about to move to this new French art market epicentre.
At number 8, Emmanuel Perrotin is opening a new space across 380m2 on 4 September 2021 in partnership with two young dealers, Tom-David Bastok and Dylan Lessel, which is completely dedicated to secondary market trading (for works that have already circulated and which therefore aren’t limited to the gallery’s roster of artists).
And one of the global leaders in the secondary market, the Swedish-American , will be opening premises at 2 Avenue Matignon across 240m2 in October 2021, where he is due to display artists including the American figurative painter Eric Fischl (born in 1948), along with Francis Bacon and the excellent German artist recently showcased in Paris as part of the Pinault collection, Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997).
Also at 18 Avenue Matignon there’s Almine Rech, the French gallerist who is now multinational, who decided to move in last January.
Mennour, White cube, Heller
At number 28 there is Kamel Mennour and at number 10 there’s the leading English gallery White Cube, who opened an upstairs space in 2020, and Jean-Olivier Despres, the French representative of the largest company specialising in art advising in the world, the Heller Group, run by the American Sandy Heller, has an office upstairs at 28 Avenue Matignon.
Black artists of all origins
For several years now there has been strong demand taking shape on a global scale for art made by black artists of all origins, which has further strengthened amid the context of the scandals of the Trump presidency and reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement (See here the report about the “Black gaze”).
Mariane Ibrahim has also been part of this trend for a long time because she mainly represents African artists and artists from the African diaspora in a broader sense. “It’s a personal quest,” explains the gallerist, who was born in New Caledonia and brought up in Somalia then in France. “Whether they are African, Haitian or African-American, what interests me is the particular artistic vision they express through their work.”
That’s how she discovered Amoako Boafo (born in 1984) via Instagram in 2018, the artist who would become her gallery’s superstar. He is also one of the most high-profile artists on the current contemporary art market scene.
As we revealed at JB Reports on 6 December 2019 (see the report here), the Ghanaian painter was shown to the wider public as part of the Art Basel Miami fair in 2019, when he was also exhibited by the collector couple Don and Mira Rubell.
From Euros 15 000 to 250 000
At the time Mariane Ibrahim was presenting his works for between 15,000 and 45,000 dollars. Today she’s selling his large-scale pieces – accompanied by a contract stipulating that the owner is forbidden from reselling within five years – for 250,000 dollars.
Painted with bare hands
The portraitist, who is based in Vienna, paints black subjects, usually using bright and contrasting colours. Lately his figures have been animated by motifs applied using the photographic transfer technique. He says he is influenced by the Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918) but his specificity has to do with the fact that in his work the faces are executed not with a paintbrush, but with his bare hands, thus leaving numerous fingerprints visible on the canvas.
Collaboration with Dior
Boafo benefited from an extraordinary surge of publicity in 2021 when Kim Jones, the artistic director of Dior Homme, collaborated with him for their spring-summer collection.
Since 2020, according to the Artprice database, no less than 42 canvases by the artist have gone up for auction. This goes to show that Amoako is at the centre of extensive speculation within a globalised market. The record price for the painter was obtained in Hong Kong in December 2020 for a portrait of a man wearing yellow sitting on a yellow couch, which went for 949,000 euros.
300 000 euros
In 2021 his prices at auction were marginally more modest, with several canvases selling for around 300,000 euros.
“People are surprised that Amoako is obtaining such high prices on the secondary market because he’s black and that is a new phenomenon. But there are numerous other young artists who currently sell for millions of dollars,” observes Mariane Ibrahim.
(see minute: 19:53 and minute: 1:25:50)
Boafo has just painted a triptych to cover a suborbital rocket made by Blue Origin, the company owned by Jeff Bezos.
On 20 October 2021 he is also due to be the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco.
To mark the opening of her Parisian gallery, Mariane Ibrahim asked fifteen artists from her roster to produce two works each, in reference to the “deux amours” (“two loves”) from the Josephine Baker song.
Ayana V. Jackson
Here we also find, for example, the New Yorker Ayana V. Jackson (born in 1977) who produces highly stylised photographic self-portraits addressing the postcolonial gaze, among other topics. Her work has already been acquired by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and by the famous Studio Museum in Harleem, dedicated to African-American art.
Among the other artists featured in the exhibition there’s the Ghanaian Zohra Opoku (born in 1976) who works in Accra and creates large photomontages on canvas that recycle images of body parts, vegetation, and patterns from traditional fabrics. Mariane Ibrahim observes that one of her works has just become part of the collections at the Tate in London.
The exhibition “J’ai deux amours” is presenting works on sale for between 8,000 and 225,000 euros.
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