mythical paintings from New Guinea
14th October 2008 – 4th January 2009
East suspended gallery
Curators: Magali Melandri and Maxime Rovere
This exhibition presents the paintings of three contemporary artists from New Guinea (East Sepik province): Kowspi Marek, Chiphowka Kowspi and Agatoak Kowspi.
Via the founding myth of the Kwoma people, the exhibition tells the story of how men came from the earth thanks to a boar which returned covered in red earth.
The visitor will be presented with the myth as a way of making sense of the world. Designed in collaboration with the artists and Kwoma communities, this exhibition shows how determined this culture is to have a future.
Red Kwoma catalogue – co-published by Réunion des Musées nationaux and the musée du quai Branly
The exhibition emanates from Kowspi Marek’s desire to inform people about the Kwoma myths and culture. From 2003, these paintings received such a positive reception in France that they were regarded as independent works of art and could be exhibited as such. In this way, Kowspi and his sons felt that they had been recognised as djumbama, as "men of style" (artists) held in high esteem by the Kwoma people.
Kowspi Raymond Marek
Kowspi was born in 1956 in Bangus, the eldest son of Marek Klapuach - the secular leader of Washkuk. His first works of art were leaf stalk paintings and woodn sculptures, which he began to sell in 1971. In 1996, he was awarded a Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University (California). In 2002, he began a project with his sons which drew him into the contemporary art world.
Chiphowka Robin Kowspi
Born in 1974 in Telum, eldest son of Kowspi, Chiphowka created a statue of the mythical figure Kumurr in 1999, which was purchased by the American Ran Perry. A village man who has never visited the city, he has devoted his life to painting since 2002. He learnt to mastet the technique of acrylic on paper in such a short space of time that his father considers him as the best Kwoma painter in history.
Agatoak Roni Kowspi
Born in 1977 in Ambunti, second son of Kowspi, Agatoak did not start producing works of art until 2002. Having tasted urban life in Lae (1996-1998), he began experimenting with art upon his return to Ambunti. His work is greatly influenced by modern life.
Born in 1977, Maxime Rovere is a philosopher; he has accompanied the artistic project of Kowspi Marek and his sons since 2002. A former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Ecole du Louvre, associate professor, doctor of philosophy, and Spinoza specialist, he taught at the ENS-LSH (Lyon) for four years. Closely involved with the Kwoma people, he holds clan responsibilities at the museum.
Magali Mélandri, Head of the musée du quai Branly's Oceania Collection. A former student of the Ecole du Louvre, Paris I (archaeology of Oceania) and the EHESS, she teaches history of Pacific arts and cultures at the Ecole du Louvre. Since 2002, she has contributed to many exhibitions on Australian aboriginal art, Polynesian fabrics made from tree bark and the relics of Oceania.