For the opening of its cultural programme, Artcurial invites Nigerian curator Azu Nwagbogu to conceive a contemporary African art exhibition entitled A Flamboyant tribute to nature with works by Pilipili Mulongoy and Joseph Ntensibe. These artists, whose creations echo the current Parisian fairs Art Paris Art Fair and 1-54 African Art Fair, have developed a strong interest for ecology in their works. The exhibition is presented from Tuesday 5th to Sunday 10th April at Artcurial, 7 Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées.
Pilipili Mulongoy was a leading light of the Hangar School, which marked the second rebirth of modern Congolese art. The son of a fisherman, he grew up around wildlife, a lifestyle which profoundly affected his subject matter, creative focus and artistic discipline. His works depict luscious wildlife scenes and are preoccupied with the theme of life and death in the animal kingdom. It is Mulongoy’s complex and balanced compositions, in which colours applied with thin, meticulous parallel strokes somehow capture not only the spirit of the animals depicted, but also the ambience and harmony of the savannah, which gives his work its unique interest. Mulongoy’s canvases can be viewed as solemn meditations on African nature and ecology which has been fundamentally disturbed by the intrusion of European colonisers.
Instead Ntensibe’s intricate, largescale designs generate interest by means of subtle shifts in the colour spectrum of leaves which stands both for the sky and for bodies of water—that is at once fantastic and breathtakingly lifelike. Ntensibe spent his early years in a forest covered rural region of Uganda. Trees, leaves and vegetation offer him an inexhaustible repertoire of motifs in landscapes devoid of human and—except for some birds—animal presence. Overall, Ntensibe creates a dreamlike and fantastic atmosphere and world in which the forms of nature as expressed primarily in colour contrasts.
Azu Nwagbogu is the Founder and Director of African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), a non-profit organisation based in Lagos, Nigeria. Nwagbogu was appointed the Interim Director/Head Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in South Africa from June 2018 to August 2019. Nwagbogu also serves as Founder and Director of Lagos Photo Festival, an annual international arts festival of photography held in Lagos. He is the publisher of Art Base Africa, a virtual space to discover and learn about contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. Nwagbogu is a curator with a special interest in future museology. In 2021, Azu Nwagbogu was selected as the recipient of the Curatorship Award by the Royal Photographic Society and listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the contemporary art world by Art Review’s Power 100.