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This year marks the third edition of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. It takes place at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn from May 5 to 7, and 19 international galleries will present work by more than 60 artists. Participating for the first time is New York gallery Taymour Grahne, representing artists like Fanny Tavastila, Hassan Hajjaj, and Nadia Ayari. Whitewaller spoke with Grahne about the Moroccan modernist Mohamed Melehi, whose work he’ll be showing at the fair.
WHITEWALLER: This year, you’ll be participating in 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Having participated in the London edition of the fair, what made sense about New York this year?
TAYMOUR GRAHNE: This will be my gallery’s first time participating in the New York edition. We participated in the London edition in 2014 and met great people and sold to some great collections. I visited the New York edition last year and I really liked the location, the space, and the galleries that were participating, so I am excited to be part of it this year.
WW: Do you know yet what you’ll be presenting? Can you tell us about the artists whose work will be on view?
TG: We will be presenting a solo booth of new work by pioneering Moroccan modernist Mohamed Melehi (born in 1936). The waves in Melehi’s vibrant paintings are inspired by the beaches of his hometown of Asilah, and the artist’s interest in geometric compositions.
It will be exciting to show Melehi’s works in New York, as the artist lived here for some time in the sixties, and his work is in the collection of MoMA. He also had a solo museum show at the Bronx Museum in 1984, so it’s exciting for us to present Melehi’s work again in New York City after such a long time.
WW: What will be on view at the gallery during Frieze Week? Can you tell us about the exhibition?
TG: In May, we will have a group show curated by artist Holly Coulis. I have been a huge fan of Holly’s work for years. She co-founded an artist-run space in Brooklyn called 106 Green, and I really like their program and the artists they show. Holly has introduced me to some great artists in the past, including Matthew F Fisher, who had a solo show at the gallery last month.
WW: Your gallery, while located in New York, has always had an international focus and roster of artists. Where does this global perspective come from?
TG: As a gallerist today, I think it is important to have a global perspective. Being global is in my background as well: I have lived in different cities, and I am half Lebanese and half Finnish. While I am happy we do show several international artists, I am also proud that we are also very much embedded in the New York art scene, and many of the artists I have shown are New York– based. One of the best components of the city’s art scene is the fact that so many artists live here. There is a great artist community, and this is what makes New York an art world capital. I also love doing studio visits, and spend quite a lot of time doing them, so it is great that I can do so much of that here.
This article appears in Whitewaller New York‘s spring 2017 edition.