Photography | Tête-à-Têtes - Part II | at David Hill Gallery | London | Art Week

Tête-à-Têtes - Part II

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Friday, 30 April 2021 to Friday, 30 July 2021

David Hill Gallery is delighted to present Tête-à-Têtes part II.  This second group exhibition of West African portraiture brings together further work, some previously unseen, from some of the region’s most influential and important photographers: Sanlé Sory (b.1943), Rachidi Bissiriou (b. 1950) and Malick Sidibé (1935-2016). Opening 30 April at the West London Gallery and co-curated by Carrie Scott and David Hill, the exhibition celebrates the emergence of a new identity in post-colonial West Africa. 

Photography in West Africa evolved rapidly following Ghana’s independence in 1957, the first country in the region to shake its colonial shackles. Photographic practice grew out of, and in relation to, the optimism of the period, capturing the zeitgeist of cultural fusion. Photography, largely a bureaucratic tool until this point, and often held with suspicion, was also used to proudly establish new identities and achievements. 

In 2017 the David Hill Gallery was the first to present the work of now established artist Ibrahima Sanlé Sory outside of West Africa and he remains under their representation. Eleven Sanlé Sory works will be on display in Tête-à-Têtes Part II, four of which are previously unseen. 

Sanlé Sory started his career in Bobo-Dioulasso, then Upper Volta now Burkina Faso, in 1960, the year the country gained independence. Sory caught the exuberance of West African youth immersed in new styles of music and dancing in the first decades of African independence. Many of the photographs depict the enmeshment of tradition and modernity that was taking place at this time. 

Now with gallery representation in London, New York, Paris and Amsterdam, Sanlé was the first African photographer to receive a solo show at an American museum (Art Institute of Chicago, 2018). 

More recently, David Hill Gallery began exclusive global representation of the archive of Kétou-based Beninese photographer Rachidi Bissiriou. Now retired, Bissiriou’s work had not been seen outside of his town in central eastern Benin where he operated his ‘Studio Pleasure’, in the Oguidigbo district from 1968 to 1985. Working with a Yashica twin-lens medium format camera, he produced an extraordinary series of portraits of the local villagers. The lighting and composition are remarkably contemporary in feel, with the subjects depicted in their everyday clothing, some traditional and some informal, photographed as the artist has found them. 

Malick Sidibé, an established Malian photographer, documented the people of the city of Bamako as Mali made the transition from colony to independence. Sidibé’s photographs show vibrant youth culture at dance clubs, parties and sporting events; people enjoying their freedom and intoxicated with the new Western styles in music and fashion… “For me, photography is all about youth.” Sidibé took thousands of portraits in his studio and camera repair shop, recording individuals keen to assert their postcolonial identity and success. Included in the exhibition are a selection of Sidibé’s previously unseen unique Chemises – small prints of his edit of photographs from events and social functions, each glued to cardboard sleeves.

These chemises were then used as a reference system for people to order prints from him. Many of the original negatives for these images have not survived, and many were not printed outside of the chemises, which often leaves these artefacts as the sole record of a night in Bamako on a given date. As such, they provide unique insight into the culture and society of the time. 

Sidibé’s work has been exhibited internationally from 1990, and in 2003 he received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. In 2007 he became the first African and the first photographer to receive the Venice Biennale art exhibition’s Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement. Sidibé’s chemises are now held in the permanent collections of several major museums, including MoMA and Art Institute of Chicago.


@davidhill_photo |

Tête-à-Têtes – Part II

David Hill Gallery, 345 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 6HA

30 April – 30 July 2021

Curator ( Name ):

Venue ( Name ):

Venue ( Address ): 

David Hill Gallery,

345 Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, London W10 6HA

Other shows from Faye Cottrill

Art in the Age of Now
Tête-à-Têtes - Part II
04/30/2021 to 07/30/2021
Jealous Gallery curates a mini Art on a Postcard Auction entitled Spring Has Sprung!
04/14/2021 to 04/28/2021


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