Nov 20, 2014 - Jan 11, 2015

Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity - Rome

Imago Mundi


Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity - Rome
Sixteen countries, 13 collections, more than 2,000 artists with 10x12 centimetre artworks. The result is an unprecedented, rich and fascinating visual story created exclusively by African artists, established names and young talents: a contribution to the reflection on an African aesthetic, which, overcoming prejudices and stereotypes, represents the ethnic, social, geographic and cultural diversities of an entire continent.The contemporary collections from Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Morocco, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe – over 2,000 10x12cm artworks, assembled under the title The Art of Humanity – were exhibited in Rome from 20 November, 2014 to 11 January, 2015 at the Museo Carlo Bilotti (Aranciera di Villa Borghese), in collaboration with Roma Capitale, the Department of Culture, Creativity and Artistic Promotion – Superintendent Capitolina of Cultural Heritage, and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Contemporary Egyptian art through the eyes of 210 established masters and emerging talents. A complex and courageous vision, protagonist of that part of the Arab world that has developed, over time, the deepest relationship with Western art forms. Impressionism, surrealism, abstract art are entwined with a profound pursuit of the local identity, both ancient and modern. A pictorial culture that is eclectic, lively and light, but also capable of pointing a finger at the country’s contradictions, exploring forms, people, weaknesses, beliefs and hopes, with languages ​​that speak of the future.

A circular journey in search of our origins. 140 canvasses, fruit of the labour, ingenuity, creativity and commitment of established and emerging artists, to explore Ethiopia, the region of the Earth that saw the first steps of man. A social historical, anthropological and cultural melting pot, which, like its art, succeeds in both preserving its identity and simultaneously embracing diverse and hybrid styles from all the contemporary movements, offering up its artistic achievements to the world and the art of today.

New languages, colours, magic, experiences, energies are expressed in this collection of works by established and emerging artists from Kenya and Tanzania-Zanzibar. A new creativity, that the West has all too often branded as ethnic and tribal, emerges intense, strong and, at times, impetuous, in the 150 small canvases that comprise this catalogue, testifying to a global, multiform artistic scenario, in continuous movement and renewal, much like great part of the African continent.

Wisdom, magic and colour. Sophisticated forms of figurative creativity contained in 140 paintings from Mozambique, where today a large number of talented painters work and transfer to their art the traditions and contagions that precede the colonial period, tragic memories of the civil war, glories of the revolution. Intellectual excitement, passion and energy are expressed in the small paintings collected by Imago Mundi just as they are in the huge murals on the streets of this country’s largest cities. This collection confirms how great things are created by bringing small things together.

The different colours of the South African rainbow, highlighted by the works of 211 artists, often far apart in age, training, cultural experience, career progression. An extraordinary artistic potential that is embodied in this unique collection with a variety of techniques - from oil to acrylic, from wool and silk to materials in everyday use - and subjects: social and personal themes, intimate human loneliness and universal nature, the harshness of living conditions and echoes of revolution. "We are all meant to shine," said Mandela in his inaugural speech of 1994. Art can help us shed some light: on ourselves and those around us.

A whirl of vitality, an artistic landscape that juxtaposes techniques, models, materials, ambitions. Turbulent creative contrasts emerge from the more than 250 works in this collection, a still shot of the reality of contemporary Tunisia. The singular style of painters, committed artists who each and every day question their present: with women in the front line, the new guardians of the political, historical, social and cultural exception in Tunisia.

155 works by established and illuminated maestros like Amadou Seck, alongside young emerging artists, create a fascinating mosaic of colours, styles and techniques to bring us the contemporary art of Senegal, with all its variety and generosity. The meeting - Dokh Dadjé - of diverse artistic personalities brings us a collective vision of desire for the future, tradition and the culture of openness that co-exist here. Because Senegal is the land of “Teranga”, of hospitality and caring for others, the ability to offer - just as art does - the biggest part of itself and to accept, with gratitude, whatever it receives in return.

An extraordinary collection of works that express regeneration, urgency for action and a creativity that intertwines the African beauty of a country weakened by over thirty years of war with hope, the desire for change and participation. 141 canvasses to proclaim that being an artist in Eritrea today not only signifies the liberation of a subjugated people, but the liberation of all peoples of the planet, with the recognition of their equal and lasting dignity.

On its long journey to intercept and collect the new African vision, Imago Mundi reaches the western coast of the continent to present the works - more than 140 paintings – of the artists of Mauritania and The Gambia. Artists of extraordinary talent who have in common the marginalization of their work but who have decided with strength, passion and vision to emerge from the side-lines to face the world and assert their own identity, their own inventiveness. And to give us all, intact, the African magic and new aesthetics that are essential to contemporary art in the era of economic globalization and technology.

A broad and colourful panorama that bears witness to the intense richness and strong desire for transformation of the contemporary artistic scene in Morocco. 140 paintings, the work of established and emerging artists who, in search a personal journey, pay homage to a pictorial tradition that has historically given voice to contradictions and new awakenings. As in the solitude of the Sahara, the challenge is to go and lose oneself; and then find oneself again in new oases of style and thought to be shared, amid iconoclastic tradition and the influences of globalization, amid the conceptual, the figurative, the abstract, amid ancient legends and explorations.

A visual culture supressed by the warlords for twenty years is revealed for the first time in this new Imago Mundi collection. Almost 150 artworks with a 10x12cm format interpreting the hope for a better, freer society. Like the prehistoric rock paintings and engravings, animals and symbols, rediscovered in the caves of the northern part of the Horn of Africa, these contemporary works remind us that art flourishes even in discomfort and insecurity. And, above all, that beauty can brighten our lives with hope.

On the border between Arab-Muslim Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, North Sudan is a blend of fascinating cultures, traversed over the years by Christian-Coptic, Egyptian and European influences, creating a highly interesting ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural contagion. This complex cross-pollination of Islamic and Black African components, as well as reflections of ancient Nubia and Western influences, has created a particularly rich combination of forms of expression, reflected in the more than 150 10x12cm works in the Imago Mundi collection. Oils, inks, watercolours (as well as a surprising use of coffee) give life to human figures, landscapes, cities: the vibrant African colours of the south, the almost black and white tones of the north, express, and often reinvent, the impressions, the beauty and the contradictions of yesterday and today.

A varied landscape, a colourful portrait of Zimbabwe amid the problems of everyday life and hopes for tomorrow that Imago Mundi has chosen to show to the world in the belief that these 140 artists can contribute, as art always does, to a new future. An unprejudiced encounter with life and the visual culture of a country and its communities, including the women of the village of Weya, who fled over the mountains many years ago from the capital Harare, where they were oppressed by drunken, idle husbands, to produce their works of art free from exploitation and abuse. Three generations of women who have found independence and emancipation in artistic creativity.

“This exhibition is a journey across a continent that is both young and ancient, whose art – heterogeneous, hybrid, intense - can be a driver of the development of African communities and an urgent solicitation to refresh the Western aesthetic,” says Luciano Benetton. “Looking at these works, the secret of their all encompassing beauty manifests itself in our minds as a dazzling revelation: African art moves, unsettles, engages, sets in motion. I believe that from ancient roots, the work of these African artists tell us of the world to come.”

To accomplish this collection, Imago Mundi looked to the new Africa, to its great reservoir of natural resources, youth, culture and hopes. To the Africa that is many Africas, each with its own traditions, past, tribes, beauty, tragedies.

"I believe these works by thousands of artists, gathered in 13 collections from 16 countries, can contribute to a reflection on the aesthetic qualities of contemporary African art that goes beyond the stereotypes of folklore, the tribal or the exotic. It is new art. As Pliny the Elder wrote, «Africa always produces something new.»"
Luciano Benetton

In 1907, Maurice de Vlaminck showed Derain an African sculpture, telling him that it was almost as beautiful as the Venus de Milo. Derain said no: it was equally as beautiful. Failing to agree, the two painters asked the opinion of Picasso, who concluded: «You’re both wrong: it is much more beautiful!»
More than a hundred years have passed, but today the debate on the aesthetics of an Africa that is reclaiming its own future is more open than ever.

Luciano Benetton meets Macky Sall (President of the Republic of Senegal) at exhibition "The Art of Humanity ", Museo Carlo Bilotti ‐Aranciera Di Villa Borghese, Rome

Credits: Story

Luciano Benetton

In collaboration with
Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche


Ignazio Roberto Marino

Giovanna Marinelli
Councillor for Culture, Creativity and Artistic Promotion

Claudio Parisi Presicce
Capitoline Superintendent of Cultural Heritage

Communication Service and External Relations
Renata Piccininni, Responsible
Teresa Franco

Trade Service And Sports And Cultural Activities
Federica Pirani, Responsible
Gloria Raimondi
Francesca Salatino

Territorial Directorate Technical And U.O. Of Design Technique
Maurizio Anastasi,
Director Of Reuse Projects Service E Productions Museum Roberta Rosati, Responsabile

Lucia Pierlorenzi

U.O. Villas And Historical Parks Alberta Campitelli, leader Ester Piras

Museo Carlo Bilotti - Aranciera Di Villa Borghese
Ilma Reho, Museum Director
Antonia Rita Arconti, Responsible Temporary Exhibitions
Daniela Di Chiappari, Events Manager

Scientific Committee Museum Carlo Bilotti
Margaret Embury Schultz Bilotti, president
Claudio Parisi Presicce
Alberta Campitelli
Federica Pirani
Edvige Bilotti
Roberto Bilotti

Oriano Mabellini, Collection Egypt
Abdulmalik Mabellini, Collection Eritrea
Faisal Osman, Collection Ethiopia
Sarenco, Collection Kenya / Tanzania / Zanzibar
Emanuele Benedetti, Collection Morocco
Enrico Mascelloni, Collection Mauritania / Gambia
Enrico Mascelloni, Collection Mozambique
Alain Manini, Collection Senegal
Abdulmalik Mabellini, Collection Somalia
Nadja Daehnke, Collection South Africa
Abdulmalik Mabellini, Collection Sudan
Leila Souissi, Collection Tunisia
Sarenco, Collection Zimbabwe

Exhibition design
Tobia Scarpa

Exhibition graphics
Namyoung An / Fabrica

Organizing secretary
Valentina Granzotto

Exhibition texts
Pietro Valdatta

External relations
Martina Fornasaro

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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