SWAB Barcelona - International Contemporary Art Fair, Barcelona, Spain
01 Oct 2015 - 04 Oct 2015


Hamid El Kanbouhi - Strand - Oil on canvas (2011) – 200x200cm Courtesy Galerie Van De Weghe


SWAB GATE, presented by Fundació Lluis Coromina and curated by Eva Barois De Caevel, consists of solo presentations of African and Caribbean artists, living and working in Africa and Europe, or between these continents, with a strong focus on painting.

The participating galleries for this new section of the fair have been selected by curator Eva Barois De Caevel. The invited galleries are located both in Africa and in Europe. This program aims first at presenting the work of four great contemporary painters, but it also hopes to question the history and the actuality of categories such as the one we use here — painting as a medium and the geographical origin.

The artists whose work I selected for this program inside SWAB are Congolese, Zimbabwean, Haitian, and Moroccan. 

They are painters. 
Or also painters.

If one remembers the historical and yet quite recent struggles during which the African and African-American artists had to negotiate their right to modern painting, to abstract painting, to conceptual painting, while having to answer for their (desired or criticized) “traditionalism”, thus one realizes that painting offers a fertile ground, at least as fertile as other ones, to question assignations, temptations of essentialism, appetite for exoticism, that any non-Western artist has to deal with. 

This selection also hopes to produce a dialogue in the space of the fair itself, that could exist between the works, beyond the booth walls: Steve Bandoma, Wycliffe Mundopa, Sébastien Jean and Hamid El Kanbouhi are four artists who paint nightmares, fantasies, bodies on which we can read sufferings, haunted still lives.

They work on paper or canvas, with gouache, acrylic, pastel, oil, ink; they are — maybe — expressionists.

Kura Shomali, whose work I admire a lot, says: “Art is a straight jacket and I do not know how to wear it; an inner fear of not being able to meet the collective fears. Only art can soothe.”

I found interesting to bring together two categories — and their fundamental impotence as categories: one related to a medium, the other to a geographical area.  

I was happy to believe that this “African painting” conveys above all a Humanism, here, in Europe, where people collect it and give it prizes. A Humanism according to Edward Saïd, “a coming Humanism”, and not its substitute from the Enlightenment — the will to understand the others that, as long as it is fiercely authentic, excludes any domineering ambition. 

– Eva Barois De Caevel


Steve Bandoma
Born in 1981 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Lives and works in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Angalia, France

Hamid El Kanbouhi
Born in 1976 in Larrache, Morocco. Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Galerie Van de Weghe, Belgium

Sébastien Jean
Born in 1989 in Thomassin, Haïti. Lives and works in Haïti.

Wycliffe Mundopa
Born in 1987 in Rusape, Zimbabwe.  Lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.
First Floor Gallery Harare, Zimbabwe



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