Artist Spotlight

Marc Montaret, Senegal

Website: Marc Montaret May 06, 2017 By: Adenike Cosgrove

I am a 40-year-old French autodidact artist living and working in Senegal. I grew up in France, and during a bachelor’s degree and some ébéniste studies with ‘Compagnons du Tour de France’, I met and fell in love with a Senegalese girl. She wanted to live and work in Africa, so she packed her luggage, with me in it. That was the beginning of our adventure on this continent.

With no money but full of creativity, I started painting during my first few years in Africa then finally dove, with love, into the sculpting bath. I love sculpture because of the invisible and deep link between the material and the creator’s who work with it.

I’ve had the chance to travel around Africa and lived in a few countries including Cameroon, Mali, and Senegal. I’ve visited workshops and established solid relationships with blacksmiths, carpenters, and ceramists. Every trip has given me the chance and honour to witness and practice the ancestral know-how from local craftsmen and artists.

Amadou et Mariam
Djenne Djeno
Marc Montaret
Marc Montaret
Marc Montaret

The multiplicity of African kingdoms, ethnicities, cosmogonies and beliefs offered to the world an extraordinary diversified statuary. Inventive solutions made by sculptors are so phenomenal that even today, even with the support of all our new technologies, we are speechless in front of this brilliance. African classical sculpture is so diverse, so powerful and vibrant, that I was little by little (unconsciously?) beginning to celebrate its amazing creativity in my own work.

Bamana Boli (Komo Society Altar), Mali
Source: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Marc Montaret

Awed by all this beauty and imagination, I started to propose a contemporary and desacralized version which celebrates, with joy and colour, a heritage which is still underestimated, even by Africans themselves. There is no systematic approach to my work process—I find objects in antique shops, exhibitions, in books or papers, and on the internet. Most of the time, it’s just a ‘Coup de Coeur’. Finding a Kuba raffia from DR Congo, a Kenté fabric from the Akan, a Mumuye statue from Nigeria—the beauty speaks for itself. I’m so happy to participate in the rediscovery of this authentic treasure, of this source of un-exhausted inspiration for the rest of the world.

Grebo Mask, Marc Montaret
Grebo Mask, Ivory Coast
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Dogon Mask, Marc Montaret
Dogon Dyommo (Rabbit Mask), Mali
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Classical African art should be a source of deep pride—it offers a cultural foundation for the future of the African continent. I would love to expose some of my pieces in relation to traditional ones, to see each piece in the context of the original purpose. I dream about a museum in Africa where we could show and educate our kids about the beauty, history and heritage in contemporary and classic African art.

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