Bwo: Cameroon’s Fresh Art Gallery, Founded by Two Cameroonian Natives Under 30, Announces Its Opening

BWO gallery founders

Bwo, the newest commercial art gallery in Cameroon and Central Africa, announces the opening of its space on September 2, 2023. Founded by Cameroonian natives, Brice Yonkeu and Noelle Mukete-Elhalaby, the gallery aims to promote and support the artistic production of contemporary artists from Africa and its global diaspora by offering them a new platform for expression and conversation. Bwo will be one of the few galleries established in Africa by founders under the age of 30.

Bwo is an extension and addition to the growing contemporary art scene on the African continent. The decision to open a space in Cameroon was not only motivated by the personal relationship and history that the founders share with the country, but also by Cameroon’s rich history of cultural excellence. In fact, the country has birthed renowned artists such as Pascale Marthine Tayou, Barthélémy Toguo, Hervé Youmbi, Samuel Fosso, Bili Bidjocka or even recognized curators like Koyo Kouoh, Simon Njami, Bonaventure Bejeng Ndikung and Marie-Ann Yemsi amongst others, whose track-record of achievements significantly contribute to contemporary African art discourses. This realization testifies to the undeniable potential that Cameroon holds and makes Bwo eager to support the next generation of leading Cameroonian artists and curators, while it develops a programming that transcends boundaries, cultures and generations.

The gallery’s name takes its root from Medumba, a language widely spoken by the Bangangté people in the grassfields region of Cameroon. The word, bwo, means beauty and beautiful, it can also mean fine. In this context, the Medumba adjective is simply used to refer to fine art, and describe the intricacies as well as aesthetics captured and expressed by a certain work of art.

Situated in the district of Bonapriso in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital and largest city, Bwo will occupy a 1079 sq ft space with a ceiling height of 16 ft that will serve as a vibrant hub for contemporary art. Bonapriso is a neighborhood in Douala renowned for its affluent residents and upscale lifestyle. This dynamic area boasts a diverse culinary scene, renowned lounges, entertainment venues, boutiques, and hotels. With its prime location just a 10-minute drive away from the airport, sea port, and city business center, Bonapriso offers unparalleled convenience and connectivity. This combination of lavish living, top-notch amenities, and strategic positioning has solidified Bonapriso as the perfect location for an art gallery.

Founder, Noelle Mukete-Elhalaby shares that, “The opportunity to engage with the materiality of our national heritage and culture lacks on ground in Cameroon, depriving local populations from a part of their identity. We do not want to simply be a white cube centralizing ideas close to our roots. The physical space of the gallery will live at the rhythm of our curatorial but also educational leadership.”

As the first subsidiary of Bwo Art, an artist management and art advisory company that launched three years ago in Atlanta, Bwo inherits a rich legacy of success. Bwo Art has facilitated the sale and placement of over 150 artworks in prestigious private collections across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Through its extensive network, the company has supported numerous exhibitions for its artists, nurturing their growth and establishing vital connections within the art world.

Talking about the artists the gallery will collaborate with, Founder Brice Yonkeu notes that, “Intention only does not justify an artwork nor does execution by itself. We want to present artists with strong and bold positions focused on impactful delivery. The artists, deeply rooted in their values, cultures and environment, are obviously not always aware of the intricacies of the reception of their work across societies and geographies, as well as over time. It is our mission to appreciate what transcends it beyond their objectivization”.

As Bwo will open its doors on September 2, 2023 with a solo show by Sesse Elangwe, the gallery’s team anticipates welcoming collectors, institutions, press, artists and art enthusiasts from Cameroon and beyond to celebrate and be part of this milestone.

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