Kunsthal KAdE is showing the collection of African art of Carla and Pieter Schulting. Over the past five years, they have assembled an extensive collection of 170 artworks by 154 artists from 33 African countries and the African Diaspora.
Art scene on the rise
The Africa Supernova exhibition presents a cross-section of the collection, demonstrating the diversity, complexity and promise of the artistic development of contemporary African art. Centers are artists from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia) and North Africa.With a focus on young artists - most are around 30 years old - the exhibition is an anthology from an emerging art scene. Together with Carla and Pieter Schulting, we are eyewitnesses to the blossoming of a group of artists who are storming the art world in the wake of some - now - big names. The focus is on painters, along with a number of sculptors and a growing focus on photography.
Contemporary African art
On view is the work of painters, sculptors and photographers with both intense figurative imagery of their own and a love of outright abstraction. They present Africa from an awareness of how the black body has been treated for centuries. "Contemporary African artists - from this awareness - fold past, present and future into each other," writes Azu Nwagbogu (co-curator Buro Stedelijk, Amsterdam) in his contribution to the catalog, "thus filling a gap (read: wound) that cannot simply be bridged with the self-quotation of figuration." 'It' is not just a political or artistic statement, 'it' is a matter of poise" so says Nwagbogu. Poise as an attitude in the visual language of contemporary African art to give subjects their own value, regardless of context. "The black body is defined by its presence and is overwritten with magnifying symbols. This is an element you not only see but also feel in many works in the Schulting Collection," Nwagbogu said.
A history of many histories
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced," said African-American novelist James Baldwin. Looking at the rich visual vocabulary of the African artists in the Schulting Collection, one senses long histories, many experiences - including traumatic ones - and great stories ready to be told. Exposed from a personal perspective, often with the artists themselves or their friends as the focus, but with universal overtones. A history of many histories, depicted from specific points of view and individual cultural experiences.
Africa Supernova. Contemporary African painting collection of Carla and Pieter Schulting is from Sept. 24 through Jan. 7 on view at Kunsthal KAdE.