Opening today and until 30th March to 2nd April 2017, Art Paris Art Fair brings together 139 galleries from 29 countries at the Grand Palais to explore European art from the post-war period to the present day as well as international emerging art scenes.

This year’s international focus is on the African continent and titled Africa Guest of Honour which will be spread across the fair, and consists of over twenty galleries from South Africa, Angola, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, Tunisia and Europe showing a cross-generation of artists from both the African continent and its diaspora (Billie Zangewa, Mohau Modisakeng, Moffat Takadiwa, Mario Macilau, Bili Bidjocka, Kura Shomali, Maory Prince Mensong, Ayana V. Jackson, Namsa Leuba….)

The fair has drafted in German-Cameroonian cultural consultant and independent exhibition curator, Marie-Ann Yemsi to curate its ‘Africa Guest of Honour’ section, and although the title sounds like a diplomatic arrival of the entire continent in the metropolis French capital of Paris, Yemsi promises ‘previously-unseen perspectives’ of contemporary African artistic horizons to fair-goers this year.

Considering that there has been a surge of focus on Africa and its diaspora artists over the last decade at art fairs, it will be interesting to see how this Parisian fair will offer something different. We have seen a wonderful presentation of not-for-profit organisations by esteemed Nigerian Curator, Bisi Silva for Marker at Art Dubai 2013, Armory Art Fair New York in 2015 invited Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba, founders of the online platform for international art from African perspectives, Contemporary And as guest curators for their African Perspectives section, whilst London, on the other hand, took it further by the establishment of the successful and ambitious 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair initiated by Touria El Glaoui in 2013 dedicated to contemporary African art.

It will be interesting to see how the fair engages its visitors with wider curatorial programmes in museums and institutions, as it coincides with the festival 100% Afriques, La Villette showcase of every aspect of contemporary African creation, Afriques Capitales, curated by Simon Njami and the exhibition at Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature featuring South African artist Roger Ballen.

An exciting time for African artists that reverberates further than the fair’s special focus and to determine if we do indeed do get something different here in Paris from the usual art fair format of highlighting different international geographical locations.

by Jareh Das