El Hadji Sy – Painting, Performance, Politics

Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt a.M., Germany
05 Mar 2015 - 18 Oct 2015

El Hadji Sy – Painting, Performance, Politics

The first retrospective of the artist and curator El Hadji Sy (*1954, Dakar). 

In the mid-1970s, in a pioneering move, the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt began collecting contemporary artworks from Africa. Today it has over 3000 paintings, prints and sculptures in its collection. In 1985, it commissioned the artist and curator El Hadji Sy with the task of assembling a new group of works of contemporary art from Senegal, thereby initiating a long-term relationship between Frankfurt and Dakar.

Thirty years later, as part of its programmatic investigation into its collection, the Weltkulturen Museum is proud to present a retrospective of El Hadji Sy’s career as a painter and cultural activist whose seminal involvement with the museum preceded the so-called global turn of 1989.

The exhibition, which is co-curated by Philippe Pirotte, director of the Städelschule and Portikus, combines Sy’s installations and paintings – sometimes executed with his bare feet or produced on unusual surfaces such as industrial rice sacking or synthetic kite silk – with his selection of ethnographic objects and artworks by colleagues from Senegal.

As a founder of the notorious collective Laboratoire AGIT’art, and a curator of numerous artist-led workshops and studio spaces in Dakar, Sy’s interdisciplinary practice represents a ground-breaking position within the context of post-Independence Africa.

A comprehensive monograph with unseen archival material, essays and interviews by Hans Belting, Mamadou Diouf, Julia Grosse, Philippe Pirotte and others is published by diaphanes in English and German.

Opening: 4th March 2015, 7pm



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