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 originates from Kowspi Marek’s desire to inform people about the Kwoma myths and culture. From 2003, the welcome that these paintings received in France conferred on them the status of independent works of art which 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
Born in 1956 in Bangus, eldest son of Marek Klapuach, secular leader of Washkuk, Kowspi sold his first pieces of art from 1971: leaf stalk paintings, wooden sculptures. In 1996, he was awarded a Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University (California). In 2002, he began a project with his sons which brought 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 himself to painting since 2002. His almost immediate mastering of the use of acrylics on paper and canvas led his father to consider 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 experienced urban life in Lae (1996-1998), he began a pictorial study on his return to Ambunti which is greatly influenced by modernity.
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 and doctor of philosophy, and a Spinoza specialist, he has taught for four years at the ENS-LSH (Lyon). Closely involved with the Kwoma people, he holds clan responsibilities at the museum.
Magali Mélandri, Head of the Oceania Collection at the musée du quai Branly. A former student of the Ecole du Louvre, Paris I (archaeology of Oceania) and the EHESS, she teaches history of the arts and cultures of the Pacific at the Ecole du Louvre. Since 2002, she has participated in many exhibitions on Australian aboriginal art, Polynesian fabric made from tree bark and the relics of Oceania.