Samuel Fosso, star of contemporary African photography recognized by institutions around the world, and Jean-Marc Patras, his historical agent, choose the young Christophe Person gallery to represent him. If the iconic images of the artist, virtuoso of the self-portrait, are very present in museums – the MEP devoted an exhibition to him a year ago – they are rare on the market. To inaugurate this collaboration, the CHRISTOPHE PERSON gallery will exhibit the complete TATI series, produced in 1997 for the 50th anniversary of the famous Barbès store in Paris. In this emblematic series, the artist created archetypal characters from the Western imagination: the rocker, the bourgeoise, the lifeguard, the businessman, the pirate, and also the leader who sold Africa to the colonists, dressed in animal skins on a colored wax cloth background.
It was at the age of 13 that Samuel Fosso, born in 1962 in Cameroon, survivor of the civil war in Nigeria, began his photographic career. In the photo studio he opened in Bangui (Central African Republic), an advertisement proclaimed: “With Studio Photo Nationale, you will be beautiful, chic, delicate and easy to recognize”. During the day, he took care of clients who had come for official photographs, group portraits or even to immortalize life events. When night fell, he staged himself and captured his body to finish the films had started during the day. In 1994, Samuel Fosso presented his work at the Rencontres de Bamako, and won first prize. In 1997, for the 50th anniversary of the French brand Tati, he created an eponymous series, emblematic of his work.
Other series followed at the rate of one approximately every 4 years: Mémoire d’un ami (2000), Le rêve de mon grand-père (2004), African Spirits (2008), Emperor of Africa (2013), SIXSIXSIX (2015), Black Pope (2017), Fosso Fashion (2021).
Samuel Fosso was a true pioneer in portraiture. He initiated the genre, nearly 50 years before it became the preferred mode of expression for contemporary African artists, now acclaimed by collectors. Samuel Fosso’s self-portraits are present in the collections of the greatest museums in the world: the Tate Modern, MoMA, the Georges Pompidou center, the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Never presented in galleries or at fairs, it has been very difficult to access to private collectors.
Samuel Fosso is the winner of the 2023 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.
The news was revealed last friday at the annual ceremony that takes place at The Photographers’ Gallery, London.
Samuel Fosso was awarded the £30,000 Prize for his retrospective exhibition Samuel Fosso at the Maison Europeìenne de la Photographie, Paris, which traces his career of almost 50 years, bringing together iconic series, lesser known works, archival material and previously unpublished images.
The other 2023 shortlisted artists – Bieke Depoorter, Arthur Jafa and Frida Orupabo – all received £5,000.