This is the party this week for contemporary art in Paris. On the eve of the 4th edition of the AKAA show (Also Known As Africa) this weekend at the Carré du Temple, in the 4th arrondissement, the Piasa house organized this November 7 an auction of works of art. contemporary African art. And the result was beyond all expectations. And for proof, the total amount of bids amounted to 1.43 million including costs, double its high estimate. It must be remembered that six months earlier, the house Piasa had already reached a total of 1.3 million euros, still around the theme of Africa. While the auctions were conducted at the same time, by telephone, Internet but also taking into account the purchase orders placed before the sale, some 125 lots presented have found takers on the 140 presented. That is to say. And oh nice surprise, some artists have literally exploded their estimated rating. For example, the young Cameroonian painter Marc Padeu, the Ugandan Joseph Ntensibe or the Angolan Cristiano Mangovo Bras …
Read also "Lend me your dream" of African artist: to exhibit in six capitals of the continent
Read also Art: London at African time
In his thirties, Marc Padeu seduced with his large paintings entitled The King is Dead and Here is the man !, who are parties to 195,000 euros each while they were estimated between 5,000 and 8,000 euros. At the point where market observers thought that an error had crept in with one more zero. But no, no mistake. Obviously the work of the artist who reinterprets the Christian iconography and aesthetics of the Renaissance has aroused a great interest. On the other hand, by reaching such prices, so fast for a young artist, the result may be more complicated, some gallerists question.
Read also Salimata Diop: "The rating of African artists is rising"
Read also Photography: Spotlight on Hassan Hajjaj, this unclassifiable Moroccan artist
Read also JP Mika, the Congolese artist who goes up
Second surprise, the Tropical garden 2 Ugandan Joseph Ntensibe, estimated at 10,000 euros, has risen to 156,000 euros, 15 times the estimate. In this painting made in 2019, the painter takes us into a dreamlike nature, mixing figuration and abstraction, a kind of Eden where ibis fly in a dreamlike vegetation. Among other very good sales, a large watercolor of the Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo, made in 2006, was sold for 62 400 euros and the canvas Contemporary loves Angolan Cristiano Mangovo Bras, who has gone to 65,000 euros. Kenyan painters Michael Musyoka and Peter Ngugi also nearly doubled their high estimate. Finally on the side of photography, The Outsider Inside, the only photo of the Ethiopian Aida Muluneh, flew to 14,300 euros.
Read also Aida Muluneh: when water is a fight for women
Olivier Théophile: "Africa lacks a pivotal player in the contemporary art market"
Cameroonians are popular
If Chéri Samba, representative of popular art in the Democratic Republic of Congo, had pulled the sales and won the most successful in recent years, the market seems to expand. The two paintings of the Congolese artist sold at this auction have remained in their estimates (35 100 euros and 65 000 euros). This time, it is the Cameroonian painters who have won great success, including Marc Padeu, Barthélémy Toguo, but also William Tagne Njepel Twilliam, with Africa Today, to 23,500 euros for an estimate between 3,500 and 5,500.
A market that is expanding
To organize this sale, Christophe Person does not hesitate to multiply the sources – collectors, gallerists, local networks. This is reflected in the great diversity of the artists presented offering a wide panorama of contemporary African creation, with also an extended price range. In the near future, a partnership should even see the light of day with a South African auction house.
Read also Fair 1-54: Africa exposes itself in London
For a long time, the market for contemporary African art has been reduced to a few well known buyers. The lines move. Fairs and events have multiplied since 1:54 in London in 2013, AKAA in Paris in 2016. The Venice Biennale also gives its place to the pavilions of African countries. Twenty buyers on the first sales made in 2016, Piasa can now count on a good sixty. They are mainly French, Swiss, European or North American. African collectors remain an exception.
Read also Contemporary art: the AKAA fair in Paris to break the clichés
"Although it represents only 0.1% of world art auctions, this market is growing in European capitals. It therefore offers good opportunities for collectors. There are today more and more African buyers: South Africans, Moroccans, Nigerians. But this market can not emerge without a real commitment from African states. They must encourage the creation of fairs, show, subsidize artistic events, mediate and promote their artists, "said art critic Babacar Mbaye Diop in a forum in The world.
Read also Touria El Glaoui: "A fair is above all a commercial event"