In early 2023, Daouda Traoré made history as the first French-speaking artist to win the top award at the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art, a Ghana-based awards initiative for West African artists. The Malian artist won over the jury with his use of found materials including worn sheets, wool, millet sacks, boxes, and wire, which he uses to create a series of artworks that address contemporary issues of immigration, conflict, and the education system in Mali.
As well as a recognition of Traoré’s practice, the award was also an acknowledgment of the efforts of Gallery Soview, the Accra-based gallery that has represented the artist since 2021, and where he previously showed his work in a solo exhibition in late 2022.
Established in May 2019 by Barbara Kokpavo Janvier, the gallery aims to connect English- and French-speaking artists from West Africa. The intent, Janvier told Artsy, was inspired by an innate desire to bridge “parallel artistic worlds in a way that benefits both Anglophone and Francophone artists, and avoids language barriers as a hindrance to collaboration.”
Cross-cultural collaborations and artistic exchanges are often facilitated by the gallery. Janvier recalled an example of when Togolese artist Tesprit visited the studio of Ghanaian artist Enoch Nii Amon. After speaking together, the artists realized that they shared similar ideas and started a beneficial working relationship in the process. Other examples include the story of a Ghanaian artist and a Chadian artist chatting about materials, with the former benefitting from the latter’s decade of experience in the art industry.
Gallery Soview also prides itself on having a “strong focus” on emerging African artists, who they showcase at fairs including Also Known As Africa (AKAA) and BAD+ art fair, both held annually in France.
The gallery’s roster includes painters, artisans, designers, and sculptors such as Traoré and Tesprit, as well as Chadian artist Appolinaire Guidimbaye, Ghanaian artist Prince Amanfo Okumkumabuo, Burkinabe artist Mouss Black, and Beninese artist Sebastien Boko.