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Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art 2022 officially opens |01 August 2022

Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art 2022 officially opens

Grand winner Ryan Chetty in a souvenir photograph with President Ramkalawan and other guests and sponsors

Ryan Chetty grand winner


By Vidya Gappy


The Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art 2022 was officially opened yesterday and three Seychellois artists were rewarded – Ryan Chetty, the grand winner; Juliette Zelime aka Jadez won the Best emerging artist and Barry Gertrude won the Personal Artistic Development prize. Mauritian artist Kavinash Thomoo won the National Arts and Crafts Council award.

Held under the theme ‘Lost and Found’, the biennale will run until August 28 and will see the participation of 44 artists from 19 different countries including Seychelles.

The opening ceremony was held yesterday at the Seychelles Chinese Cultural Centre, commonly known as the Pagoda at Benezet Street and was attended by President Wavel Ramkalawan, First Lady Linda Ramkalawan, Vice-President Ahmed Afif and his wife Stella, the secretary general for the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts, David Andre, the executive director of the National Arts and Crafts Council (NACC) Jimmy Savy, artists from different parts of the world, ministers and members of the diplomatic corps.

Martin Kennedy, the biennale’s curator, pointed out that through this biennale “our artists have revealed themselves through their concepts and realised work. They are broadcasting their ideas through traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture, as well as the more recent manifestations of installation, assemblage, performance and interactive art forms. I observe that within the context of concepts, ambition, risk-taking and technical processes and realisation, the work in this exhibition is of a very high quality. It is truly an international exhibition of international caliber and I thank all the participating artists”.

Mr Kennedy also shared that this 2022 Byenal Sesel is by far the biggest exhibition of contemporary art ever staged in Seychelles.

Mr Andre seized the opportunity to thank the organising committee for staging such a phenomenal exhibition and shared that “artists are dreamers and look at the world beyond to seek inspiration from other cultures and we have proof today in the different works of art displayed in this exhibition. Arts and Culture unite people from different parts of the world and promote freedom of expression and a culture of peace and tolerance”.

SG Andre said that there is nothing more satisfying for an artist to capture a moment in time or an expression and there is nothing more satisfying than doing it and sharing with others.


Winning artists’ impressions

Ryan Chetty: “Art is my life. This is a beginning of a new chapter of my life. I will be able to develop my technique further and share my art further. I will have to keep the consistency of my work as now I know the public is expecting more from me. When I proposed my idea in 2020, it was more a three-dimensional piece, but with the postponement of the Biennale, it gave me more time to work on my piece and share my message. I would advise the youth to come forward with their ideas and go forward to express themselves.”

Kavinash Thamboo: “’Can you hear me?’ is the title of my work. It is about the right balance between development and progression. Specially during the lock down, we realised how important it was to be in contact with nature. My work is how we are not listening to the nature around us. We human beings are not listening. I have been travelling to different parts of the world and I have participated in more than 100 exhibitions. This prize is a recognition and I am grateful that Seychelles recognises my work and appreciates what I am doing. It is also a big win for all Mauritian artists.

Juliette Zelime: “This prize represents all the work I have accomplished since the launch of Biennale in 2020. This work has been done in different stages and I received help from many people and my piece is an installation related to the sea - “Enn an en zour dan lepa losean.” When I did my research, Immigration office told me that we have one year and one day to declare that a person is missing, and I will not talk more about it as I want people to come and view the work and interpret it themselves.”

Barry Gertrude: “Winning this prize gives me more confidence in myself. Often we are not the right judge of our work, now it gives me confidence and also encourages me to go forward. I am foremost a painter, a sculptor, a musician and a singer – this is me. My work depicts that. All the time we work on problems, but if we get people to be happy, there will be no tension.”

Speaking to Seychelles NATION after touring the exhibition, President Ramkalawan shared that he is indeed impressed with the quality of work. “I am still in the category lost for some categories as they are quite abstract. There is a lot of imagination in play and you have to come back to focus on them properly.”

President Ramkalawan is also making an appeal to have a place to keep our Seychelles Art. “One of the most important things now is to have a national art collection to display a piece of our artists as this represents an era of our history. It is also time to go look for some of our arts lost in the world.”

President Ramkalawan encourages the young artists and urges them to participate in such events. Through participation, they will get the encouragement and people will discover them.

It was an event full of new discoveries and colours. Danielle Labiche performed a song titled ‘Lost and Found’ followed by video messages from Jimmy Savy, Vivienne Kennedy, a video montage of the Promise of Biennale 2022 and finally the guests had the opportunity to visit the exhibition and chat with the artists.

The chief judge of the panel for the Biennale was George Camille and the co-curator is Vivienne Croisée. The prizes have been sponsored by Vijay Patel, Penlac and Chaka Brothers and Creole Travel Services. Other companies that sponsored the event include absa, MCB, ISPC, STC, Constance Lemuria, Mango House, Takamaka among others.

The accompanying photos show the winners as well as guests viewing the works on display.


Photos by Joena Meme



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