The Mojo Gallery is hosting a first of its kind exhibition in Dubai in collaboration with several reputable African artists and there's a roomful of handymen walking around to finish some last-minute jobs.
I'm waiting for artist Angèle Etoundi Essamba, who eventually walks into the gallery space with an entourage that would accompany an African queen. She's confident, beautiful, and proud of her roots.
Africa Uploaded - Experiences Through The Lens is just a taste of what's to come in this four-part exhibition series of thought-provoking contemporary art. And after seeing what's on display this is definitely a must-see. Collectors, art enthusiasts, interior designers and gallery visitors are in for a treat until March 2011. Annabelle Nwankwo-Mu'azu, the founder and curator of the series, specialises in promoting artwork by artists of African descent. The series is a real eye-opener, a positive and refreshing representation of the people of the continent — thanks to her.
As for Angèle, she is a Cameroon native who was raised in Paris and currently lives in Amsterdam. Her photography is influenced by her multicultural upbringing and she specialises in creating African women's portraits which celebrate the cultural richness and diversity of Africans in a personal way.
"Every image is important to me. Each one is so diverse. I have a personal connection with all of them. Each photo has a part of me, a mood, a commitment," she says. "My African heritage is so present in my work and I'm happy that it's so visible. It's something that I carry with me despite being so far away in Europe. It is my signature style."
Her clients are people from all over the world, with different backgrounds and personal styles. Commercially her work can be found in museums, galleries and institutions. "I would say my work appeals to everyone. I photograph daily life and people get inspired by different things," she says. "For me it's about portraying good energy, expressing the beauty of a person and bringing it alive. My presentation style is very contemporary and it's an important part of my work."
Angèle has held exhibitions all over the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and iher collaboration with Louis Vuitton in Paris, she says, was one of the most "memorable exhibitions she's participated in."
Surprisingly, almost 80 per cent of her photos are taken in her Amsterdam studio. "Amsterdam is so cosmopolitan I don't have to be in Africa - it is always with me," she explains. "My portfolio includes photographs I've taken in Africa too." She has many requests to take portraits but insists they have to be in her style. She also prefers to take black and white images as they are more intimate.
Her photographs are available worldwide and she produces limited edition prints which come in a large format size and sell at Dh14,722 and 20 small limited edition prints available in 70x100 centimetres priced at Dh11,000.