The Jean Pigozzi African Art Collection

Abu Bakarr Mansaray

Born 1970, Tongo, Sierra Leone

Lives and works in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in western Africa; in choosing a career as an artist Mansaray has laboured to stem the collapse of a nation drained by civil war. After leaving school in 1987, he settled in Freetown, where he became a voracious autodidact, studying all aspects of practical science and engineering. He revived a technique especially popular in central Africa of manufacturing decorative objects or toys out of wire and iron. But he applied an extreme form of this technique to build futuristic machines for extravagant purposes, creating contraptions that could produce fire, light, air, water, cold, motion, and sound. “I am an artist making creations without limitation. I do drawings, paintings, sculptures . . . I also invent machines for my own use at home and sometimes for other people,” he has proclaimed.

Mansaray’s preparatory drawings also stand as independent artworks. These studies consist of detailed calculations, sketches, diagrams, and commentaries executed in pencil, ballpoint pen, and crayons. “I like doing strange, complicated drawings and designing intricate machines inspired by scientific ideas that are at times beyond the human imagination (for example, the machines I designed called Hell Extinguisher and Nuclear Telephone Discovered in Hell). . . . I want people to feel the power of creation.” No doubt the economic, political and social situation in Sierra Leone, a country where war has left behind nothing but ruins and charred bodies, has shaped Mansaray’s imagination and the inspiration. In 1998 he managed to escape his country under extremely difficult circumstances, and spent several years in the Netherlands; however, his work continues to bear witness to the horrors of war.



Alpha Crucis, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (01.22 to 09.30 2020)


Rothko in Lampedusa, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Palazzo Querini, Venice, Italy


Afro-Tech and the Future of Re-invention, Begleitheft zur Ausstellung, Exhibition Booklet, HMKV Hartware Medien Kunst Verein, Dortmund, Germany

Design Histories between Africa and Europe. Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow, Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg, Germany


Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier. Les Initiés, un choix d’œuvres (1989 – 2009) dans la collection d’art africain contemporain de Jean Pigozzi. Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France (04/26/17 to 09/04/17)


Magic and Power Of Magic Carpets and Drones, Marta Herford Museum, Germany

Independent Brussels, Brussels


L’art et la machine, Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France


Unorthodox, The Jewish Museum, NY, USA


Biennale di Venezia, 56th Exhibition


Luminós/C/ity.Ordinary Joy: From the Pigozzi Contemporary African Art Collection, Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA


9th Taïpei Biennale


Ici l’Afrique/Here Africa - L’Afrique contemporaine à travers le regard de ses artistes, Musée des Suisses dans le Monde, Château de Penthes, Pregny-Chambésy, Switzerland


1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London

Fiac Officielle, Magnin-A , Paris, France

Art Genève, Switzerland


1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, London

Art Paris Art Fair, Paris


Art Paris, Just Art! Grand Palais, Paris, France


African Stories

Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech


ACM, Mansaray, Rigo 23 & Volyazlovsky,

Andrew Edlin Gallery,

New York, NY

ARTPARIS+GUESTS. André Magnin & Leridon Collection, Grand Palais, Paris, France


Insiders, CAPC de Bordeaux, France

2009 - 2010

Africa? Una nuova storia

Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy


Why Africa?

Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli

Turin, Italy


100% Africa

Guggenheim Museum

Bilbao, Spain


Arts of Africa

Grimaldi Forum

Monaco - France


African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection

Museum of Fine Art Houston

Houston - USA

2004 – 2006 (travelling exhibition)

Africa Screams – Das Böse in Kino, Kunst und Kult

The Evil and the Uncanny in Cinema and Art

* 29/04/04 – 12/09/04


Afrikazentrum der Universität Bayreuth

Bayreuth – Germany

* 05/11/04 – 05/02/05

Kunsthalle Wien

Vienna – Austria

* 03/04/05 – 12/06/05

Kunstverein Aalen

Aalen - Germany

* 08/07/05 – 15/01/06

Museum der Weltkulturen Frankfurt

Frankfurt - Germany

2004 Africa Remix- Art contemporain d’un continent, travelling exhibition : 2004-2007

2004: 24 July-7 Nov. Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany

2005: 10 Feb-17 April. Hayward Gallery, London, England

2005: 15 May-20 Aug. Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2006: 27 May-31 Aug.: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

2006/2007: 14 Oct.2006–14 Jan.2007: Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

2007: 24 June 2007 - 30 Sept. Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa


Lyon Biennal for Contemporary Art

Lyon, France.


Die ver-rückten Stücke

Stiftung für Eisenplastik

Zurich, Switzerland.


7. Triennale der Kleinplastik

Stuttgart, Germany.



Design Histories between Africa and Europe, flow of forms, forms of flow, Kerstin Pinther, Alexandra Weigand (eds.) Museum für Völkerkunde

Hamburg, Allemagne, Transcript Design


Essentiel Paysage - Artistes Contemporains Africains face à l'environnement, catalogue d'exposition, Fondation Alliances, Musée MACAAL, sous la direction de Brahim Alaoui, p. 159


Les Initiés, un choix d’œuvres (1989 – 2009) dans la collection d’art africain contemporain de Jean Pigozzi. Editions Dilecta, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France. Exhibition catalogue


L’art et la machine, Musée des Confluences, Exhibition catalogue, Lienart publishers, Paris

Mana tukukuq Illapa, Universidad Ricardo Palma, Lima, Peru, 2015


Why Africa?

Exhibition catalogue. Published by Electa & Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli.


100% Africa

Exhibition catalogue. Published by TF Editores & FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.


Arts of Africa: The Contemporary Collection of Jean Pigozzi

Exhibition catalogue. Published by Skira Edition & Grimaldi Forum Monaco.


African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection

Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.


Africa Screams: Das Böse, in Kino, Kunst und Kult

Exhibition catalogue by Tobias Wendl. Published by Peter Hammer.


Africa Remix

Exhibition catalogue. Published by Hatje Cantz.


Exhibition catalogue.

Lyon Biennal for Contemporary Art, France.


7. Triennale der Kleinplastik

Exhibition catalogue. Abu bakarr Mansaray by J. Soulillou.

Text in German p.176-177.

Stuttgart, Germany.


Contemporary Art of Africa, p.164-167.

Text by Jacques Soulillou.

Edited by André Magnin and Jacques Soulillou.

Publisher Harry N. Abraams.