Discover the enlightened solar nature of the great contemporary African artists who take over the Papal city and its majestic palace of stone as you explore Avignon and its museums.
Avignon will be the temporary home to the Blachère Foundation’s collection of sculptures, displayed at the Palace of the Popes, the Calvet museum, the Lapidaire museum and the Petit Palais museum.
For over thirty years, the founder, Jean-Paul Blachère has explored the African continent and put together his collection of art. He has met the artists, the gallery owners and the critics as he promoted and spread awareness of contemporary African art.
Today Jean-Pierre Blachère’s collection includes more than 1800 works of art, encompassing paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and installations.
In 2004, in his native region around the city of Apt, he created a Foundation open daily to visitors and the scene of major exhibitions.
His unrivalled collection, which today stands as the reference worldwide, has never been displayed in a museum setting.
The meeting between Jean-Paul Blachère, passionate collector of African art seeking to share contemporary creation in Africa with a wide audience, and the Mayor of Avignon and President of Avignon Tourisme, Cécile Helle, continually interested in endowing Avignon with events on a par with its unique historical heritage, provided the spark for bringing the two together.
For the first time in the history of the city and of the foundation, seventy-six sculptures by thirty artists from Africa and the African diaspora will be exhibited in Avignon museums including the Palace of the Popes, the largest Gothic palace in the world and UNESCO World Heritage.
The selection of sculptures for installation was inspired by the monumental dimensions of the great rooms in the Palace. The works selected inhabit the space and create a dialogue between two civilisations – the medieval architecture and the contemporary sculpture from Africa.
The Palace of the Popes, in partnership with Avignon Tourisme, is the setting for works such as Confluences, monumental metallic tapestry by Ghana artist El Anatsui, Egg Fight, large installation by the Anglo-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE and Solipsis by South African artist Wim Botha.
The long lean silhouettes in concrete wire by Senegal sculptor Ndary Lo form a whole in the Benedict XII Cloister, paying tribute to one of the very first artists in the collection.
Two works by Moustapha Dimé, Senegalese artist from the isle of Gorea, are displayed in the Grand Tinel, inside the Palace of the Popes.
The cloister inside the Petit Palais is the setting for Diagne Chanel, one of the five women artists in the show, with A Season in South Sudan.
And on the esplanade in front of the Palace of the Popes, a monumental work by Ndary Lo stands forth like a signal.
The Calvet museum displays four works by the great sculptor from Senegal, Ousmane Sow, who died in December 2016.
The Lapidaire museum is home to a life-size elephant in the centre of a visual installation by South African artist Andries Botha.
This disconcerting exchange between contemporary African creation and medieval architectural heritage is on display from May 19 through to January 14 2018.
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