In Cancale, African “Fragments” in a new gallery, is worth the detour

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Hélène Jayet, “A Griot’s wife” II, series BLAD SOUD © 31 PROJECT

Antoine Dupin has already had multiple lives. After a degree in law specializing in the art market, he worked in the Art Deco department of an auction house, in Shanghai for a French gallery, then in Paris for a law firm. But when he met his future wife, also a lawyer in the art world, he decided to join her family in Cancale where her father, Olivier Roellinger, runs with his son Hugo, the Château Richeux hôtel and restaurant in Saint Méloir-des-Ondes, near Saint Malo. The result is a  beautiful space in a former barn, with high ceiling and sculpted beams. For his first summer, he is showing until September 17, three African artists from Nigeria, Kenya and Mali, who are each spectacular. If you are in the area don’t miss it.

The gallery with “A collective” and “Moment of Connection II” 2022, by Elias Mung’Ora

I did not know what to expect when I set up an appointment to see this new space and was mesmerized when I discovered the slick, yet gorgeous, former farm with sand on the floor and beautiful granite stone walls. Three separate rooms for three young artists, two former photographers, Elias Mung’Ora and Hélène Jayet, turned painters, and a three dimensional artist who uses archives from his father’s printing workshop, Kelani Abass. The gallery is as warm as its owner, who formed a partnership with his best friend, Charles-Wesley Hourdé, who runs 31 Project, a gallery specialized in African art on rue de Seine in Paris.

Kelani Abass, “Scrap of Evidence” 2018, uses archives and print fonts for his canvases

The paintings by Kenyan artist Elias Mung’Ora are particularly strong with their assemblies of men or women talking at the market or in the streets of Nairobi. The colors and attitudes are very modern, and his characters seem to be discussing in lively ways about politics or the new contested president William Ruto? All the works presented here were made especially for the show.

By contrast, Hélène Jayet, a Franco Malian, uses Indian ink spots which are linked to each other and mean nothing from close up. But as soon as you step back sceneries or portraits appear. The phenomenon inspired by her love of light and photography, her knowledge of optical technics is very impressive. There are small and larger formats and a selection of her works in color which was presented at the Dakar Biennale.

Hélène Jayet, “A Hut”, 2019, works with Indian ink and her drawings have to be seen from afar

The most established of the three, Kelani Abass, works on his father’s archives of a printing workshop and family old pictures. He likes to mix present and past in three dimensional canvases. He occupies the upstairs part of the gallery which is very dramatic with its huge wooden carpentry work.

The roof of the gallery is a work of art in itself, here with Kelani Abass’ three canvases.

Prices range from 900€ to 4 000€, Galerie Antoine Dupin, Saint Méloir-des-Ondes until September 17. Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 6 pm. 10 mns from Saint Malo and 20 mns from Dol de Bretagne.

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