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National Gallery of Zimbabwe Chief Curator represents Zimbabwe on Basel Art Fair

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe Chief Curator and Deputy Director, Mr. Raphael Chikukwa represented Zimbabwe at the 46th Art Basel which was held on the 18th of June and ended on the 21st in Switzerland.

by National Gallery of Zimbabwe

Art connoisseurs, curators and others involved in the management of creative arts from Africa and the Diaspora joined their counterparts across the world for a discussion on contemporary art.

Among the participants was one of Africa’s leading collectors, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, who is the founder of Lagos-based Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF).

Art Basel annually stages art fairs for Modern and contemporary works of the highest quality. The fairs attract people with an appreciation of modern and contemporary art who experience Art Basel as a cultural event.

Art Basel provides a platform for galleries, giving them access to an international audience of collectors, museum directors and curators.

It is one favourite destination for art lovers from around the world, the most prestigious international art fair. For the New York Times it’s the “Olympics of art world”, for the Parisian daily Le Monde it’s “The best of the world”, for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung its “Art in its best form” and Vogue calls it “the most beautiful temporary museum of the world”.

The opening started with a central discussion about building new art institutions in Africa. The discussion included Arts and media consultant, Andras Szanto, Marie-Cécile Zinsou, President of the Fondation Zinsou at Cotonou in Benin, Touria El Glaoui whi is the Founder of 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London and New York, Koyo Kouoh an Artistic Director at RAW Material Company in Dakar, Mark Coetzee who is Director and Head Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town and our own, Raphael Chikukwa.

“Africa, from the very beginning of humanity, has been the birthplace of creation, said Koyo Kouoh. This creative act is a work in progress, ongoing since the beginning of time. Today, each institution must define its missions and objectives.”
She added that the scars of Africa’s long history have given way to shaping its artists.

The main challenge faced today by museums and institutions is actually attracting the general public. The National Gallery of Zimbabwe, inaugurated in 1957 by the Queen Mother, on the other hand, is only able to stay open if public interest remains high.

Chikukwa insisted that the country’s colonial past, part of the British colonies until independence in 1980, created a stigma. The museum must prove that it is of public interest if it wishes to obtain state contributions.

The gathering, according to the organisers, featured 284 leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa and showed over 4,000 works of artists across modern and contemporary masters as well as emerging artists from 33 countries.

Showing at the galleries section of Art Basel were 223 stands, which the organisers described as “the world’s leading galleries of modern and contemporary art.”

Other segments included Feature, dedicated to 30 precisely curated projects for both solo presentations by an individual artist with thematic exhibitions. Another segments were Statements, which features new solo projects by young and emerging artists presented through 16 galleries, of which half were completely new to the show. Also on the list was Edition, a section that featured 15 leading publishers of auditioned works, prints and multiples exhibiting the results of their collaboration with renowned artists.

With an installation of large scale works, curated for the fourth year by Gianni Jetzer, the Unlimited section took centre stage at Art Basel. For the 46th edition, Unlimited featured 74 ambitious works from large-scale sculptures and paintings to video projections, installations and live performances. Other highlights included Film, Parcours, Conversations and Salon.

Art Basel was founded in 1970 by Basel Gallerists (also known as art dealers and connoisseurs of art) Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler.

Three years after its launch, Art Basel welcomed 281 exhibitors and over 30,000 visitors. While other emerging art fairs partnered in the 1970s, specifically in Cologne and Düsseldorf, Art Basel remained independent.

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