François-Xavier Gbre



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Not on display

François-Xavier Gbre born 1978
65 photographs, digital C-prints on paper
Displayed: 1100 × 3700 mm
Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisitions Fund for African Art supported by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc 2015


Untitled 2013 is an installation of sixty-five digital colour C-prints on paper by French-born photographer Francois-Xavier Gbré. The work exists in an edition of three, of which this copy is number three. Made between 2009 and 2013, the small-scale prints depict locations in cities around the world and are configured in a geometric installation within which the works are arranged in groups according to the place in which they were taken. The artist has specified fourteen different groups and provided a layout indicating that the lowest images should be hung one metre from the ground, with the frames spaced fifteen millimetres apart, horizontally and vertically, to give an overall measurement for the whole installation of 1100 x 370 mm. It is also possible for one or more of the groups to be shown separately, resulting in a smaller configuration. Each group is culled from a number of different series of Gbré’s work and depicts several different locations including: Imprimerie nationale, Porto Novo, Benin; city scenes taken in Senegal; a hotel in Israel; factories, taken in France for Gbré’s series Tracks 2009–13; the Governor’s palace in Togo; and landscapes and formal studies of urban architecture taken in the capital city of Mali, Bamako, where Gbré grew up. In a statement about the work the artist has described Untitled as ‘containing clues, stories and traces of some forgotten lives, abandoned, now in the dark. On the edge and from in-between, those small-sized pictures bring back into highly sensitive projections of the past.’ (Gbré 2014, unpaginated.)

Gbré is primarily interested in the ways in which cities alter over time and how this is manifested in their changing architecture. He has specifically examined the ways in which urban settlements respond to demographic growth and how this interacts with the historical traces left on their architecture over extended periods of time. Gbré works primarily in colour and focuses on the structural remnants of colonial history that frequently bear no modern day function for the local population. He is interested in recording these structures at moments before, during and after political and social change. Gbré’s statement that the ‘camera becomes a weapon for raising awareness’ hints at his desire to bring to the forefront often forgotten or neglected histories (quoted in Leica Camera Blog 2013, accessed September 2014).

Further reading
‘Francois-Xavier Gbré: Combining Images and Signs to Reflect Complexity’, Leica Camera Blog, 2013,, accessed September 2014.
Francois-Xavier Gbré, artist’s statement released by Cecile Fakhoury Gallery, Abidjan 2014, unpaginated.

Shoair Mavlian and Emma Lewis
August 2014

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