Very few places in the world manage to evoke the feeling of ‘far, far away’ any more. The Reunion Islands in the Indian Ocean is among these. It’s a French territory off the African coast whose nearest neighbours are Madagascar and Mauritius. The island itself has a colourful past that has led to it having a curious ethnic mix: the communities here are Tamil, Gujarati Muslim, Chinese, African, French and the mixed-blood Creoles.
Some of the vibrant art that emerges from this cultural mix is showing in Delhi. Eleven artists from the islands are exhibiting their works at the Alliance Francaise.
The show’s curator, Francine Meoule, says the works reflect the specificity of the islands. “It’s surrounded by the Indian Ocean, a tiny volcanic island of often violent weather where you have all these communities”, she says. “You can find the syncretism in the works of the artists — and closeness to nature”.
So, for example, there’s the work of Jace, a painting called Madagascar on the sail of a boat. Jace also does graffiti art, which Meoule says is very popular on the Reunion Islands. Graffiti artists Kid Kreol and Boogie, who work as a pair, will display works executed on sheets. The graffiti will enter the gallery without touching the walls.
Other interesting works include a mixed media installation called Negropolitude by Jean-Claude Jolet that combines a neon sign and parts of a refrigerator, and video art by Yohann Queland de Saint-Pern.