A timely exhibition of contemporary African art at the MAXXI presents a revelatory look at the continent’s artistic scene
Amidst Zaha Hadid’s light-filled labyrinth of concrete and steel is the pulsating, brightly coloured work of Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj. Filling the cool contours of Rome’s 21st art museum with African zest is his installation Le salon bibliothèque. Realised specifically for African Metropolis, a vibrant cacophonous exhibition of work by artists from over two dozen African countries, Hajjaj has created a bookshop in his Moroccan pop style, comprising multi-hued patterned stools, and coffee tables and reused plastic crates. A little library with a selection of books on Africa tempt the visitor — all of which have been selected by the artists involved in the exhibition as per the request of its curators, Simon Njami and Elena Motisi. More of his hotly hued works in his hipster style subjects dressed in Moroccan garb align the walls. Africa has come to Rome.
Hajjaj’s work offers a light-hearted entrée to this profound multi-faceted show on African art. Soon after, the mood becomes more contemplative as the many layers of the continent’s diverse cultural scene are revealed.