BEAUX RÊVES - SWEET DREAMS: Parcours des Mondes, Paris, France

6 - 11 September 2022

Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre
Rue des Beaux Arts 10
75006 Paris

Tue: 11am to 9pm
Wed - Sat: 11am to 7pm
Sun: 11am to 6pm

For its first participation to Parcours des Mondes, Duende Art Projects presents the curated exhibition Beaux Rêves – Sweet Dreams, highlighting a stunning group of 19th century Southern African headrests in juxtaposition with colorful abstract paintings from three contemporary female Ndebele artists. The title of the show is self-explanatory. As we share a passion for art and a desire to create homes filled with beauty, who doesn’t sometimes dream about the acquisition of a certain work of art? The selection of this exhibition wishes to be the subject of the sweet dreams of its visitors, while presenting headrests that once accompanied the dreams of their owners.


In alignment with Duende Art Projects’ ambition to bring classical and contemporary art from the African continent together in an engaging way, multiple correspondences can be discovered between the antique South African headrests and the modern Ndebele paintings. Originally painted on houses, it is no surprise the compositions of these paintings are most architectural. Headrests as well have a structural composition, the base and head support connected through complex design elements. The brilliant use of negative space in both art types also plays an important supporting role. Just as the play with symmetry and asymmetry around the central axis creates surprising configurations. While Ndebele painting was passed on from mother to daughter, the headrests are similarly strongly feminine in conception. Both the painters, as the anonymous sculptors, show us which creative heights African artists were able reach within the limitations of a certain style or type of object.


For generations Southern African Ndebele women have created an art of remarkable richness and vitality. In large murals that covered the exterior walls of their houses, they created designs that are at once ancient and modern in their minimalism, bright colors, and bold abstract patterns. These unique geometric motifs, with their schematic color arrangements in angular areas outlined in black, marked their Ndebele identity. Under the impulse of the late Belgian art dealer Alain Guisson, three artists transferred the ephemeral Ndebele mural paintings from walls to paper, thereby promoting and preserving the art form for posterity. At the time it was a very new way for Ndebele women to assert their identity, each of them pursuing their own aesthetic path. Beaux Rêves – Sweet Dreams shows seven beautiful works from the artists Franzina Ndimande, her daughter Angelina Ndimande, and Anna Mahlangu.


The Ndebele paintings are presented together with a group of 19th century Southern African headrests. Carefully selected for their age, quality, and design, they are among the best of their type. These wooden pillows elevated their owner’s head from the ground to protect an intricate hairstyle from dust and being flattened when asleep. The headrests from the Tsonga are famed for their astonishing craftsmanship and inventiveness. Specialist artists created a harmonious symmetry around a central axis. The endless creativity in the design concepts of their headrests is shown by three superb examples. Nine other headrests, characterized by a play between triangles and circles, originate from Zimbabwe’s Shona people. The female pubic area and typical scarification patterns are prominently and consistently represented in these headrests, visually acknowledging the importance of women in a male dominated society. Lastly, an early Swazi headrest acquired in the 1870s creates a timeless image evocative of a bull.


For now and while browsing BEAUX RÊVES - SWEET DREAMS online, enjoy the playlist Bruno composed for this exhibition: