The second edition of the Douala Art Fair took place over the weekend of 31 May to 2 June, 2019 at Canal Olympia in Douala.
“The African art boom is of little interest if Africans themselves don’t buy it”. That’s what I said in 2018 in an interview with Le Monde newspaper. That’s the level at which our thought process began. We started from the simple observation that Africa had to create its own art market. For the last two decades, so-called African contemporary art has been resonating on the international contemporary art scene. Artistic events are continually being organised, as is the valuation and sale of works by some of this continent’s artists at auction houses such as Sotheby’s and PIASA. All this reflects a clear and obvious dynamism. Africa’s contemporary art scene is thriving and vibrant. This continent’s artists have established themselves and are now amongst the most sought-after. The list is long, but we could mention for example Pascale Marthine Tayou, Barthelemy Toguo and Bili Bidjocka.
Cameroon has 24.5 million inhabitants but just one art gallery, the MAM gallery in Douala, and a handful of creative and exhibition areas (Doual’art, Bandjoun Station, Bolo…). We therefore decided to create a fair where artists from Cameroon and across the continent could present their work. So the Douala Art Fair was born of a desire to provide a space, a market, within a setting not really conducive to it. We want Cameroonians to understand what art is, become interested in it and develop emotions, hoping that within the next three to eight years they’ll find it totally normal to buy these works of art.
For this second edition, we wanted to take a look at central Africa where we’re seeing the emergence of a wave of brilliant artists from Kinshasa to Yaoundé to N’Djamena to Pointe-Noire. Last year’s first edition made us more determined to support this new guard of African artists who have chosen, unlike their elders, to not move overseas. In 3 days, we met 1,009 people who had come to discover 150 works of art by our 50 chosen artists. They were notably from Cameroon, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Chad.
The programme of the event included guided tours, talks (What impact is digital technology having on art and creation? What actions are needed to encourage Cameroonians to consume art and create demand?) and film screenings (Baloji’s “Zombies” and Thomas Glaser’s “Malick Sidibe, le partage”).
24 hours after the end of this second edition, we’re already eager to start working on the third, which won’t be in June but from 6 to 8 November, 2020.
In the meantime, why not have a look around our website and buy some art.