Dealer Spotlight

Carlo Bella, United States

Website: Pace African and Oceanic Art May 24, 2017 By: Adenike Cosgrove

Born in Italy, as a child Carlo was never exposed to African art, however being the son of art dealers, he has always had a passion for art. Joining Pace in 1984, he started working in the Print department dealing in Western art. On the same floor as the Tribal Art department—then run by Bryce Holcombe—Carlo became exposed to African art and very quickly jumped into ‘tribal art’ pool.

Completely self-taught, with a career spanning more than three decades, and now at the helm of Pace Primitive, Carlo Bella has never looked back. In this ‘Dealer Spotlight’, we speak to Carlo to find out ‘why Africa’, his experience to date in dealing in classic African art, and how he believes the market has evolved, and will continue to evolve over the next five years.


Powers of the Ancestor: Sculpture from Central Africa
02 March—15 April 2017

An exhibition of over 30 artworks, Power of the Ancestors: Sculpture from Central Africa representing the broad range of masks, figures and ritual fetish objects from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Gabon.

Throughout history world cultures have celebrated their ancestors. In Central Africa ancestors and their spirits were summoned in a wide variety of situations: from conflict resolution to healing sickness, from unmasking witches and witchcraft, to war and clan migration. Figures, masks, and reliquaries were carved to communicate with influential forebears, and to keep ancestors present and engaged in the world of the living. These sacred objects are remarkable works of art and clearly demonstrate the importance of the ancestors.
Bamileke Stool, Cameroon
Bongo Stool, Sudan
Igbo Stool, Nigeria
Chokwe Pwo Mask, Angola
Guro Mask, Ivory Coast

"African objects have an incredible magnetic presence."


Powers of the Ancestor: Sculpture from Central Africa
02 March—15 April 2017

Among the works featured in the exhibition is one of the few reliquary figures carved by a known master. The mid 19th century Kota Reliquary Figure by the artist Semangoy is a classic two dimensional sculpture made of wood, brass and copper and characterized by a convex forehead projecting above the concave lower half where the facial features are concentrated. Relics of a distinguished ancestor would be wrapped around the base of the piece ensuring their presence at all times.

Charged with power is a commanding Dondo-Kamba Nail Fetish from the Republic of the Congo. The standing figure is surmounted by a very expressive and poignant face with an open screaming mouth. The torso is densely studded by a variety of 19th century knives and metal blades. Nail fetishes were used as vehicles for shamans to communicate with spirits and to cajole them in witnessing human’s activities and deal making.

"I take a lot of pride in the presentation... Sculpture is all about light. How an object receives light, reflects light, absorbs light. Presentation is very important."


Art of Africa
09 May—17 June 2017

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