(Text and photos by Michael Auliso)

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Here we are again, covering another exciting Parcours des Mondes, now in its sixteenth year.  I arrived early and left 2 days early.  The streets  are overly crowded on the weekends, making viewing the art in congested galleries less enjoyable.  So, I didn't feel I missed much leaving sooner.  That said, I seldom get into all the galleries and don't always take photos if I do.  While I cover a lot, there is much I can't.  You just have to come and see it all for yourselves.  I'm just serving a spoonful from this rich bowl of Art Soup.  

It doesn't get any better than The Parcours either.   This year was even better than last year in terms of buyer enthusiasm it seems.  The backdrop of last year was uncertainty and anxiety, with many people waiting on purchases to see the results of U.S. election.   This year, with the value of people's stock investments looking better for the most part, there was less buying apprehension.  And there actually is just concern since North Korea is a real imminent threat.  

There were 59 tribal galleries.  Astonishingly, less than ten percent of them are American; just five dealers!  Regarding Americans, the collectors are still attending in numbers.  The dealers tell me they like to see that but miss the days when the mega collectors were active buying African Art.

The fair happens during tax season for the French.  We hear and see large crowds at the fair, but the dealers tell me that foot traffic seldom translates to real sales.  Participation among exhibiting Asian dealers is noticeably down.  Dealer turnover and shuffling is common though.

Who's in and who's out?  Sitting it out and or not flying the flag this year was Nasser & Co., Berz Gallery, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, Bruce Frank, Brant Mackley, Ben Hunter, Jacaranda, Renaud Vanuxem and Pierre Dartevelle (who we all wish is doing well).  In was Eric Hertault and Erik Farrow.  

In terms of sales, I'm hearing that half the dealers did well and the other half hoped for more.   Despite almost two full days of rain at the start of the fair, the crowds on strong.  There was a whisper about early buying activity.  Apparently, one early buyer spent 6 million euros between three dealers!  One of the fortunate was Didier Claes who sold his entire hair comb exhibition!  Regardless of all that money spent, there is still dealer turnover, since not enough is spent "broadly" to keep everyone happy.   A dealer being "happy" with results, largely depends on their "expectations".

There were some stunning individual pieces and some very strong dealer exhibits.  That said, I can't say that there was one gallery overshadowing all others this year.  That has happened many times in past years where a singular exhibit has everyone raving.  I loved Galerie Flak's new remodel.  Entwistle, Dulon and De Grunne always impress.  Charles-Wesley Hourde's mask exhibit was noteworthy.  Its very hard to capture the spotlight one year at the fair, let alone two years in a row.  To do that, a dealer must exceed his best previous threshold, then also beat everyone else.  

In terms of trends, I'm hearing from dealers that there is less enthusiasm and demand for Dogon, but especially Lobi this year.  I can't confirm but that might be already supported by auction prices? 


(Espace Tribal)  Tribal Art Magazine with dedicated exhibit with expanded lectures and program schedule.  


(espace tribal exhibit) "The Lion and the Jewel"  Conceived in 2015, Espace Tribal serves as a think tank on tribal art and each year hosts a special exhibition that is open throughout the run of the Parcours des Mondes.  It is curated by contemporary art gallerist Javier Peres who is also now the Honorary President of the Parcours des Mondes.  Collector Michael Martin from Australia (Second left in lavender coat).


(espace tribal) Just after a lecture.  Pierre Moos being "interviewed"(?) on the couch by an enthusiastic woman.  Priceless body language.


espace tribal exhibit "The Lion and the Jewel"


espace tribal exhibit "The Lion and the Jewel"


espace tribal exhibit "The Lion and the Jewel".  Nigerian Mumuye figure.


espace tribal exhibit "The Lion and the Jewel"


espace tribal exhibit "The Lion and the Jewel"


Prior to the opening, Entwistle has curtains hiding the objects displayed in the windows.   Their amazing Rock Star status and expertise wasn't attainted by normal means of field collecting and self-publishing books and catalogs.  They are a dynamic duo like no other and the very best at their one thing.  Is Entwistle now "Bigger" than Sotheby's?  We'll revisit that later.


Bovis also with covered windows before the opening night launch.  But even when their gallery is open, it is closed to any photography.  I'm reminded how John Giltsoff hated photography and died before lifting his ban.  I work with who I can but not everyone is accommodating. 


((Galerie Abla et Alain Lecomte)  Open for early business.  4 rue des Beaux-Art Gallery.  

He exhibited at the San Francisco Tribal show for years, and was one of the many European dealers to drop out as American African art collectors contracted.  


           ((Interior- Galerie Abla et Alain Lecomte) exhibition: "Bateke-  La Collection Sophie et Claude Lehuard".   He and I get along great but with his wife Abla's translation help.  They had another successful Parcours.  Alain is a good deserving dealer and humble guy.  


    (Dalton Somare)  Leonardo Vigorelli closing a deal on the sidewalk again. 


(Exterior Dalton Somare)  A view of pre-production, as the Parcours ladies work to suction up poles to hang those orange logo flags.  


(Dalton Somare)  Gerolamo with his mother in another dazzling dress.  Hope that one day they have a piece you love, because they are great people to do business with.  


(Dalton Somare)  They made a nice  catalog for the exhibit, Ivory Coast Art from Italian Collections. 



(Dalton Somare)  Baule Mbra monkey figure and a Tellem Dogon (right).


(Dalton Somare) A Lega Ivory and A Luba figure.


(Dalton Somare)  A profoundly beautiful 13th C. Tibetan gilt bronze with inset stones.  


(Dalton Somare)  An Ivory Coast Bete Mask with teeth.   It looks a canine from another dimension.


(Dalton Somare)  Note the very elaborate circular base on the female Baule figure.  Tomaso explained it was the top of a royal stool that is represented.




(Dalton Somare)  Dan we mask.



(Kevin Conru) Corner or Rue de Seine and rue des Beaux-Arts.



(Kevin Conru)  An awesome display of Tutsi shields from Rwanda.  A customer told me weeks later he had purchased the group.  I was excited to hear that.  This was another example of it pays to ask the price.  The answer may surprise you.   Kevin was in the selling mood and kept many customers happy.   At least four people I know made purchases from him. 



(Kevin Conru)  PNG Guam River mask.



(Kevin Conru) A cool Admiralty Island three prong spear with inset Stingray barbs.  Ouch...! Those hurt going in and coming out.


(Kevin Conru) A lovely Papuan Gulf Era River Gope board.  


Galerie Flak's New Redesigned Space


(Galerie Flak)  Wow..!  Look at their newly redesigned feng shui gallery space.  An impressive remodel maximizing natural light too.  Well executed and worth the effort.  It was enchanting to see the transformation from black!  




(Galerie Flak) Opening night of their newly remodeled gallery.


(Galerie Flak)  A sweet example of a Maori Wahaika hand club.


(Galerie Flak)  A poor angle and photo but....  that is very noteworthy Solomon Island war canoe model on the wall.  Check it out on their website.  The Fijian kinikini  Chief's club was fully carved and handsome.



 (Galerie Laurent Dodier) An interesting style Bamana ciwara in the window.  His exposition was on "Des Falaises de Bandiagara aux Plaines de Bamako".



(Martin Doustar)    Wow, what happened here?  It was like now you see it, now you don't.  Martin's gallery was open early and many of us stopped in.  A trip back in shortly later and there were empty pedestals,  empty boxes and bubble wrap on the floor.   His Fang figure and Vanuatu rambaramp figure were not on display any longer.  Martin works fast.  You can see them on the window graphics however.  



 (Exterior- Guilhem Montagut)  I only stopped here long enough to take this photo, then got distracted in conversation.  Note that his entire window front and doors are custom covered with film and graphics.  I wish I had gone in, since customers later told me he had some important and beautiful pieces.  He always does though.   His doors seemed often closed when he was open though?


(rue Visconti- Exterior Galerie Erick Hertault) Alex Arthur with Jerry Solomon (right).


(rue visconti) Jerry Solomon grabbed my camera here and turned in on the reporter.  (Left) Alex Arthur with Michael Auliso (right). 


(Exterior Wayne Heathcote gallery)  Look at his cool window graphics... Bernard Dulon in frame on the right.  Wayne's brother in law Volker was manning the exhibit as Wayne was unable to come.


(Donald Ellis)


(Donald Ellis)


(rue Visconti- Exterior Galerie Erick Hertault) His debut at the Fair.  His gallery was too crowded to enter.


(Erick Hertault)  This Songye in his window was his Parcours catalog selection.  It was quickly removed from the window and I assume sold quickly.  Hertault was a gallery employee for Philippe Ratton.  Do you think he got the client list?   

(Bovis again)  Exterior opening night.


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