EDITORIAL REVIEW:  2016 PARCOURS des MONDES TRIBAL & ASIAN FAIR

 

(Text and photos by Michael Auliso)

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Another eagerly anticipated Parcours show has come and gone. For the first time in my memory it seemed as if there was a deficit of energy and enthusiasm.

Conspicuously absent were the "supernova" exhibitions, that kept dealers and attendees conversation buzzing as in past years.  There were three noteworthy gallery exhibits, which were most often remarked upon; included Alba and Alain Lecomte, Bernard Dulon, and Michael Hamson. More on them is covered on the following pages.

I noticed that the European dealers appeared more grounded in reality this year, rather than the blind optimism I had heard in previous shows.  Very few of them tried to put a brave face, they conceded the weak state of the current market.  In fact, a few joked that there were 3 dealers for every active buyer.  Perhaps not far from the truth. 

As an example of how drastically attitudes have changed, one dealer with a permanent gallery remarked, "Back in 2010, I couldn't wait to find a gallery and move into it.  After 6 years I wish I was out of it already.  At this fair, I've found few people want to spend more than about 3000 euros on a piece anymore."  You would hear about the dealers who did well but not about the other two thirds, who either broke even or perhaps took a loss on the show.  Perhaps some buyers are waiting to see how the U.S. election plays out and the effect its has on the world economy.

Dealers do not seem to be as aggressively buying as in past years either.  In a down market, a dealer may flip a piece in 10 days or still be looking at it on the shelf 10 years later.  Uncertainty can be a problem for the individual collector as well.   One notable exception is that it appears museums and institutions are still pulling the trigger and in the buying mode.

There is a continuous attrition and rotation of the exhibiting dealers.  There were fewer Tribal dealers this year, about 60 compared to 68 last year.  A number of excellent African exhibitors in particular; Jacques Germain, Dalton Somare, and Pierre Dartevelle absent.  Joris Visser and Patrick Mestdagh not showing.  Renaud Vanuxem was exhibiting but not in the catalog this time.  

It would appear that many collectors have either stopped buying or have in fact switched to "selling" in the last 5 years.  Only a few collectors who were buying 10 years ago are still buying today it would seem.  As evidence of how difficult it actually is to sell middle market items, unlike past years, thieves and shoplifters didn't appear to be practicing their profession in the galleries.  One of the few positive notes.

The African market appears hyper-competitive with fewer buyers causing a real squeeze among dealers.  Discourse among dealers is at an all time low with each other killing pieces and gorilla tactics used to retain customers.  What's new right?  But last time I checked you can't "own" a customer-- nobody can.  The only thing more vicious and ruthless than art dealing is politics.

The African market was trending hyper-competitive with minimum number of buyers causing a real squeeze among maximum number of dealers.  Fellowship among dealers was at an all time low, with a few killing others pieces, and general gorilla tactics being used to safeguard or lure customers.  Nothing particularly new in that and there's always the alternative of a career in politics; dealers who eventually give up selling art, and go that direction will obviously have a leg up experience-wise.

 

Frank Marcelin's "Exhibition Art Massim"

 

(Marcelin)

 

(Marcelin)

 

(Marcelin)  This Trobriand Massim splashboard was his catalog piece.  Frank had many things I liked. He is one of the few dealers on the accelerator and constantly upping his profile.

 

  

(Marcelin) A master-carved betel nut mortar and Spatula Set.

 

 

(Marcelin) Group of "Gobaela" kula trade shell and bone spatulas.

 

(Marcelin) A very old drum.

 

 

(Marcelin)  A Trobriand Massim dance wand.  Until now, I had never seen one of this slender style.

 

(Marcelin) detail of above

 

(Marcelin)   A New Guinea Western Highlands Prehistoric stone pounder of a stylized anteater from Ambum Valley.  Ex. John Friede.

 

    

(Marcelin) A very rare PNG Tores Straits, double Dugong hunting magic charm with stone weights.  Frank told me that Friede kept this above his entry door for good luck.  It was spiritually charged and one of my favorite objects in the fair.

 

(Marcelin) An Inuit Bering Sear spear throwing "atlatl"  with ivory fittings.

 

(Marcelin)  A fabulous Tongan headrest with cut shell inlay.

 

(David Serra)

 

(David Serra)  Next to an ancient Nigerian Mboi/ Yungur figure.

 

                       

(Daivd Serra)  A very strong Philippine seated Bulul figure.

 

(Daivd Serra)  The best Gope board in the fair.  Black and white photo of it in situ.

 

(Daivd Serra)  New Guinea Kerewa Gope board.   This one was exceptional and there were many of them this year at various galleries but I doubt few sold?  They seemed out of favor and abundant.

 

                       

(Daivd Serra) A copulating Lobi and a Baule figure (left).  Many of his pieces were from the collection of sculpture "Eudald Serra" (no relation to David).

 

(Wayne Heathcote)

 

(Wayne Heathcote)  A Philippine Ifugao receptacle box.

 

(Wayne Heathcote)  A Png Upper Sepik Mask from Douglas Newton.  Published in Crocodile and Cassowary.

 

Patrik Frohlich next to a Punu mask.  His catalog piece was previously owned by Pablo Picasso, a Mossi figure from Burkina Faso.

 

(Galerie Frederic Moisan) Performing art "Costume en cannette)

 

(Berz Gallery)  Andrew's Exposition: The Beautiful Lady, Masques Kpellie des Senufo.

 

(Berz Gallery)  One of my favorite exhibits.  I was impressed with the dedication, skill, focus and passion it took to assemble this many Kpellie masks!  The impact was very effective and memorable.

 

(Berz Gallery) The Beautiful Lady, Masques Kpellie des Senufo.

 

(Berz Gallery) cont.

 

(Olivier Larroque) I was just about to head into his gallery to get some photos, but got busy chatting with colleagues.   His Exposition was titled Rouge featuring that Telem Dogon figure.

 

The most crowded location on Rue de Seine and they are not buying tribal art.  Many boutique shops like this have replaced galleries, a trend I began seeing about 6 years ago.

 

 

 

(Finch & Co.)  Early in the fair they had a Jivaro "Tsantsa" shrunken head, but longer.  It was their catalog submission along with that pair of Ipiutak Eskimo ivory snow goggles. 

 

(Finch & Co.)  The Yoruba Ibeji wall.

 

(Finch & Co.)  A handsome group New Caledonian greenstone celt and axes.

 

Brant Mackley Gallery/ Michael Evans Tribal Art.

 

(Brant Mackley)  The mask on the right is a Northwest Coast Bella Coola fish clan mask.

 

(Mackley/ Evans) Group of large Niue Island war clubs, part of Evans exhibit on Niue/ Savage Island Art.  The club on the far left was his catalog submission having Hurst Gallery provenance.

 

 (Bruce Frank)  This year he featured an exhibit on Miniature Sculptures from Borneo.  He also produced a catalog "Dayak Amulets"

 

 (Bruce Frank) Impressive collection of Dayak "Tuntun" pig sticks.  To be highly effective dealer its virtually required that you are a collector at heart.  

 

 (Bruce Frank) Dayak Amulet- Ngaju Central Kalimantan Borneo.

 

                           

 (Bruce Frank) Poor photos... many great amulets but these struck me.  Benuaqs from East Kalimantan.

 

 (Dimondstein Tribal Arts)  This year he featured an exhibit on Bovin (cow) masks. Exposition: Masques Bovins du Continent Africain.

 

 (Dimondstein) Bovin mask.

 

 (Dimondstein)  A skin-covered widekum mask.  An unusual naturalistic style.

 

(Dimondstein) Chokwe stool with back-to-back figures

 

 (Dimondstein) Detail of above.

 

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 (Joaquin Pecci)

 

                             

 (Joaquin Pecci)  Ancient Dogon and Songye figure (right).

 

 (Joaquin Pecci)  A Mossi footed container with twin Antelopes.

 

                                     

(Jacaranda)  The two elegant Zulu horn stuffs were one of their catalog submissions.  Especially large and fine examples.

 

(Jacaranda)  A fine South African Tsonga headrest.  A whimsical example with stylized Lion(?) face.

 

          

(Jacaranda)  Detail of above.  Face and tail on the opposite side.  A really charming example.

 

(Jacaranda)  Artists sketches.

 

    

(Jacaranda)  The Zulu horn stuff bottle (far left) was their other catalog submission.

 

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