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Mixed Techniques with Textile. Placido (Pocho) Guimaraes (n. 1951). Collections from the Museum of Modern Art, GE.
EGVistas Magazine
A Museum of Modern Art
By Marc Stanes
EGVistas MagazineEGVistas Magazine

'Mother Africa' Acrylic on Canvas, Desiderio (Mene) Manresa Bodipo (b.1979)The collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Equatorial Guinea, encompasses traditional and contemporary artworks from across Africa, including pieces by some of the region’s best known contemporary creators. Paintings, sculptural pieces, textile works and traditional art form the foundation of the collection.

There is also a distinct link to Africa’s historic and cultural past present in the many works collected and exhibited. A wide variety of countries across the continent are included in the collection including Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Benin, Zimbabwe, Ghana and DRC, among many others.

The Museum has been carefully acquiring artworks on a regular basis and currently assists young artists, promoting them through collaboration and educational projects. The Museum is keen to focus and encourage the growing international awareness of the region’s diverse and vibrant artistic heritage at a time when there is an ever-increasing attention paid to the emerging artistic talent from within the African continent.

The Museum, which is a privately funded initiative, does not yet have a permanent home, but plans to establish premises in Malabo. Nevertheless, its artworks are lent to other institutions and exhibited selectively, providing a useful platform to educators and members of the public.

Historically, artists from Equatorial Guinea were famous for carved works, including important Fang tribal pieces that appear in most of the greatest African art collections worldwide.

During Equatorial Guinea’s colonial history, missionaries considered Fang pieces to be idols and therefore felt justified in attempting to eradicate and destroy any trace or manifestation of them. This has left a gap in Equatorial Guinea’s artistic history for the period of the early to mid-20th Century.

Despite this, in the past 50 years Equatorial Guinea has produced some important artists whose work has been exhibited worldwide.

One of the most famous and influential is the sculptor Don Leandro Mbomio Nsue (1932-2012). His early artistic life was in Bata, but his studies continued in Barcelona and Madrid, which clearly influenced his work. He was a great friend of Pablo Picasso and was known as “the black Picasso” for his unique creativity.

Mbomio was a highly regarded intellectual participating in many of the most important cultural events of the 20th Century. After returning to Bata, he later became a minister of education for Equatorial Guinea. Mbomio was nominated as an Ambassador for Peace by UNESCO in 2007.

Placido ‘Pocho’ Guimaraes (b. 1951) was born in Basupú and moved to Spain in the early 1970s and then to the former Soviet Union. In the 80s he started his artistic career and has since become an important and vital part of the artistic community of Equatorial Guinea, exhibiting his installations worldwide.

He specializes in textile art and works with different forms of expression, such as theatre, dance and film. He currently carries out his artistic activities in his own workshop, working with cultural centres in Malabo, ICEF and the Association of Equatorial Guinean Artists.

Younger artists such as Desiderio Manresa Bodipa ‘Mene’ and Ramón Esono Ebalé (Jamon y Queso) continue to produce visibly strong and vibrant works that can both challenge and excite. These artists are important storytellers who blend humor with a sharp social and political commentary. Mene and Ramón have gained considerable international attention and continue to exhibit locally and overseas.

Given the fast pace of expansion of contemporary African art over the past 30 years, a new and exciting group of young artists from across the continent is gaining international attention and collectability. Acquisitions from major international galleries, museums and collectors has continued to expand awareness.

Contemporary art from Africa is one of the most vibrant, collectable and rich sources of creative talent in the world today and the growing international appreciation of this art is helping inspire and support a new generation of artists.

Marc Stanes is the director of the Museum of Modern Art of Equatorial Guinea.

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