Madagascar / The Great Island

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Madagascar

When we think of Madagascar we perhaps visualize something that resembles the Neverland of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. A land of fantasy, different from the rest of world. That island, however, exists and satisfies many of the expectations of those in search of a unique natural, ethnic and cultural experience. To better understand this Most Unusual Country, the Imago Mundi project asked more than 140 Malagasy artists to join its project and take up the challenge of focusing their inspiration onto 10x12 cm canvasses.

Zatovo Andria - The Setting of the Sun (2013)

Nalremisa Rado Andriambololoson - Madagasikara (2013)

Tolotra Andriambololona - The Fascinating Forest (2013)

“Today, Madagascar - observes Luciano Benetton, creator of Imago Mundi - is above all a land of great contradictions. A champion of biodiversity, its territory is also affected by exploitation, in places only 15 per cent of the primary forest survives. An earthly paradise for wealthy tourists whose private aircraft land directly on the beaches of the luxury Relais, it is also a place of urban agglomerations with millions of inhabitants, like the capital Antananarivo, where the economic crises and political struggles have made life for many people one of poverty and uncertainty.

Tamina Harison Rakotonirina - Satisfied Nature (2013)

Gilbert Rakotosolofo - Down There (2013)

Twenty per cent of the population, 23 million people, is under the age of ten and although school is compulsory until 14, few attend, forced instead to work from an early age, perhaps digging out the ground with their bare hands in search of sapphires.”

Richianny Raherinjatovo - Malagasy Child (2013)

The challenge for the future of Madagascar is tough. The ‘land in the middle of the sea’, also known as the ‘Red Island’ for its iron-rich soil, became a French colony in 1895 and only regained independence in 1960.

Jean-Nirina Razafindralambo - Somewhere (2013)

But, leaving behind the shadows of the past, Oriano Mabellini, curator of the Imago Mundi Malagasy collection recalls how, “at the end of 2013, after four years of deep political, economic and social crisis, Madagascar began trying to move on with a series of democratic elections: presidential, legislative and municipal.”

Dina Mitia Rabearivelo - Guide of Madagascar (2013)

This is a turning point for the largest island of the Indian Ocean, where populations of different origins live alongside one another. The first migrants to arrive in Madagascar, between 2000 and 1500 years ago, were of Indonesian and Malay origin, from which the Merina ethnic group descended; subsequently, migratory flows of Bantu peoples left Africa, which gave rise to ethnic groups such as the Sakalava in the west and the Bara in the south of the island.

Radoniaina Andriamanisa - Madagascar (2013)

“Madagascar - observes Mabellini - has a cultural heritage of unimaginable potential in terms of the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, savoir-faire, and beliefs that have an exceptional and universal, historical, artistic and scientific value.”

Tanya Nambirina Mireille Raeanamampandry - Aloalo (2013)

Beyond the rich cultural heritage of the past, contemporary art strives to achieve recognition and visibility. Malalaharisoa Haingo Patricia Prisca Rananjarison, director of arts and artistic promotion of the University of Antananarivo, says: “the majority of plastic artists of the Great Island suffer from a lack of clear visibility both nationally and internationally. Land of wealth, Madagascar is also one of the artistic treasures of the Indian Ocean: the talents manifest themselves everywhere; potential exists, but lacks the artistic environment of support and visibility.”

Berjules - Transport (2013)

The artists who participated in the Imago Mundi project provide a clear testimony to the drive of those who wish to emerge, those who feel the deep need to ‘tear down the border of insularity’ and overcome the economic and organizational difficulties that continue to afflict the local artistic environment.

Jean Rajerisaona - Ignoring Evolution (2013)

The subjects of the small canvases range from an attentive reworking of the landscapes and peoples of the Big Island, to bold modern abstract expressions.

Mamy Ravoniarisaonina Andrianary - The Avenue of the Baobabs (2013)

Giuseppe De Rossi – Hoby (2013)

Jean Davidson Rakotonirina - Gasy d’Art (2013)

We often find the congenial presence of lemurs in the artworks, the lively, large-eyed and long-tailed prosimians that European children so love to see in cartoons and in our zoos. It is a smile that brings us closer to a world that is so geographically distant, but so familiar to our collective imagination.

Raparivo Andriantiana Ramaheninarivo - Sun and Fauna, Flora of Madagascar (2013)

In the words of Luciano Benetton, "avant-garde and traditional art forms coexist in the collection, in a demonstration of creative vitality and a desire for international recognition. The art of Madagascar is beautiful and can be a useful tool for cultural autonomy and the economic and social growth of the island.”

Tojoniaina Rasolofoarison - The Woman who Talks to the Moon (2013)

Credits: Story

La Biennale di Malindi Ltd

Valentina Granzotto

Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Oriano Mabellini
Patricia Haingo Malalaharisoa
Prisca Rananjarison

Carlo Antonio Biscotto
Emma Cole
Pietro Valdatta
Demetrio De Stefano

Marcello Piccinini

Oriano Mabellini (P. 19–25)
Marco Pavan (Artworks)

Marco Pavan

Oriano Mabellini
Serge Henri Rodin
Actuels de Madagascar Craam, Centre de Ressources des Arts Federation des Arts Visuels, Madagascar
Fondazione Sarenco

L. Fanny Rasoamia
Tiako my Taniko

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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