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Ibrahim Mahama: The Memory of Love at Frac des Pays de la Loire

July 2–October 2, 2022

Ibrahim Mahama, a Ghanaian artist born in Tamale in 1987, has spent the last 10 years producing a thorough body of work that is socially involved and interacts with the different museums, art galleries, landmarks, and other public spaces that have hosted him. The artist deconstructs historical contexts marred by the idea of failure or catastrophe through his—often spectacular—artworks in attempt to uncover the positive outcomes that could result from such environments. The basic components of intimidating works that examine the topics of labor, migration, globalization, and commercial exchange are jute sackcloth, shoe-shine boxes, and sewing machines.

Ibrahim Mahama continues to consider recycled materials, the flow of products and knowledge, while simultaneously taking a fresh turn for his first solo exhibition in France. The Memory of Love combines textile, furniture, music, and architectural archives.

Visitors are welcomed by Untitled right away (2019). Six flags, chosen from the 25 that made up the piece when it was first shown in New York in front of the famous Rockefeller Center, are flown on the building’s façade to announce the location of the Frac to onlookers near and far. The banners, which are made of jute bags obtained from or purchased in Ghanaian markets, revisit one of the artist’s preferred materials. These bags, which were used to transport priceless goods like cocoa beans, preserve the memory of the men and women—migrants, laborers, and others—who carried them and occasionally left their names on them.

A selection of items from the artist’s own collection of wax prints and other colorful hand-crafted fabrics with a variety of symbols and meanings are combined with doors and windows taken from close by his Tamale studio, which is built on the site of a former grain silo in the Brutalist architectural style of the 1960s. On the roughly twenty doors that make up the main work, the disc motif—which also evokes a circle or body of water—seems to reference the availability of records with more than 50 albums of music typical of the post-independence era. These discs, which were gathered from a Ghanaian DJ’s family, are primarily artifacts from the post-colonial era, just like the doors, shelves (from his alma university), and wooden couches.The various designs—“Kofi Annan’s brain,” “Money can Fly,” “Fly whisk”—of these printed fabrics, also featured throughout the other panels/sculptures, revisit the history of Ghana in their own way, be it to praise political heroes, to commemorate historical events or to  affirm social identity. Having initially trained as a painter, Ibrahim Mahama here reveals his taste for composition, material and colour. A reminder of a bygone age, vestiges of a time whose effects are constantly reappraised, The Memory of Love leads the viewer on a sensitive journey—of both sight and sound—through space and time. —Claire Staebler, Director of the Frac Pays de la Loire

Ibrahim Mahama (1987, Tamale) earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting in 2010 and a Master of Science in painting and sculpture in 2013 from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

Mahama established the Red Clay Studio and the Savannah Art Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in 2019 in addition to his artistic practice. Through these two aspirational institutions, he offers productions, exhibitions, and seminars for a diverse audience. Nkrumah Volini, a center for cultural and creative education built in a former grain silo, was established by Mahama in 2021 as an addition to the SCCA and Red Clay Studio.

Mahama has participated in a number of international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 2015 and 2019, documenta in 2017, and the Biennale of Sydney in 2020. In 2019, he also had a significant solo exhibition at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. He is now putting together a solo performance at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam in the fall of 2022. He is scheduled to serve as the 35th Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts’ creative director in 2023. (Slovenia).

Frac des Pays de la Loire
21 quai des Antilles
44200 Nantes
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–7pm

T +33 2 28 01 50 00
[email protected]
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