Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The opening was a huge success, if I do say so myself. I am guessing around 250 people came. The ambassadors of Angola and DRC both spoke, which was really quite moving, as did Rosalind Kainyah of De Beers, Inc. Her support has made so much of this exhibition possible.

So, we had Congolese performers, food, wine, and lots of people. I think both artists were happy, which was best of all. This morning, we had the press preview and that also seemed to go well – especially considering it was snowing outside. We weren’t sure how many people would show in these weather conditions. But, they came and more importantly, they stayed. Stay tuned until the weekend to see what people have to say… One of the nice comments was a reporter said we “nailed it” with the entry wall. Others seemed really interested to learn more about the relationship that has developed between Aimé and António.

We’d (me, the artists, museum, etc) also be interested in hearing more from readers about what folks think goes into opening or press previews, the launching of an exhibition in general… It is a team effort of course: designing the invites, sending them out, maintaining the lists, staffing the doors, providing security… I haven't got any pictures yet, but will share when I can...

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About the Exhibition

Artists in Dialogue: António Ole and Aimé Mpane is the first in a series of exhibitions in which two artists have been invited to create new work in response to one another. Accompanying these site specific artworks are a selection of older and more recent pieces by António Ole of Angola and Aimé Mpane, an artist who divides his time between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Belgium. Even though their works appear together for the first time, Ole and Mpane share close ties to their homelands and a connection to the human and natural environments of their native countries.

Ole has been creating and exhibiting his artwork since he was a teenager, and this selection spans his impressive 40-year career. From the crisp pop art style of his youth to his subtle and evocative assemblages and installations, Ole's work prompts viewers to consider poverty, political hypocrisy, territorialism, violence and decay. At the same time, a deep appreciation for the beauty of cast-off objects and the aesthetics of poverty underlies his works, which are on view in the United States for the first time.

Mpane, a prolific artist who is versatile in painting, prints, sculpture, video and installation, achieved international recognition in 2006. He utilizes his commanding skill with human expressions and the figure to probe the history and present state of the DRC.

This selection of established and new works provides insight into the personal visions of Ole and Mpane and how they communicate with diverse audiences. Their subject matter, use of unlikely materials and ongoing commitment to Africa resonate with one another and encourage dialogue.

About the Curator.

My photo
"I was told to describe myself as a well-dressed hipster and I only wish this were true. Despite my lack of cool, I consider myself lucky to be the coordinating curator at the National Museum of African Art. My interests include both contemporary and classical African art - and to be frank, I disagree with the notion of a great separation between the two - and I have worked in both museums and universities. I've been called an idealist because I believe that through learning about other cultures, ideas, and visions, we learn tolerance for one another - regardless of class, religion, country and the other great divides. But I also just love looking at, learning about, and being with African art and African artists. I like art in general, but it is the diversity, complexity, and richness of the works connected to the African continent that captivate and motivate me. It's the only work I've ever done, and among other great rewards, it has allowed me to travel to and on a couple of occasions live in Zambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Angola and Senegal."