While African states claim the restitution of their cultural heritage stolen during colonization, initiatives are conducted to promote contemporary African art including that launched by Annie Blondel. Former adviser to the Gabonese head of state, she has converted herself into cultural entrepreneurship.
In Libreville, in the famous and lively district of Louis, a site has appeared as remarkeably. «L’Ouverture», officially inaugurated on May 12, this gallery is a major place of culture in Gabon. «A new temple, confirms Annie Blondel, founder of the center. Or rather a «privileged» meeting place to engage in a polysemic dialogue. Art is, no doubt, the field through which things that go beyond the limits imposed by language can be discussed. The whole of Africa is fighting over culture and art promotion. Biennials and other cultural events are organized in Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Angola, Ivory Coast, not forgetting South Africa where there is a creativity beyond measure. Gabon had to meet this challenge and to be present on the international art arena. The L’Ouverture gallery is the result of a desire for several years to meet the vital need to feed the spirit».
Concept Store creator
Paintings, sculptures, jewelry, «L’Ouverture» is an art work and multidisciplinary gallery. From the courtyard of the center, on the walls, the stalls, the garden, art is read and exposed. Creations signed by Gabonese artists but also African, European. «By creating this place, the art and culture savvy public will be delighted to find in Libreville a place where are gathered exhibitions, vernissages but also painting classes, concerts, recitals.» A center that also has a strong educational dimension. «We will not over look the educational imperative: we must educate the eyes. Our era is characterized by a quasi-obsessive voyeurism but paradoxically the acuity of the eye dims».
Annie Blondel in her new gallery L’Ouverture
Promoting talents, her leitmotiv
Still advisor to the Gabonese head of state, on environment, a few years ago, today, young cultural entrepreneur, Annie Blondel is also at the onset of the creation of the first store concept in the capital, the shop «Rue du Soleil», specializing in «made in Africa». «In love and fan of Colette for twenty years, I wanted to offer my city a place full of emotions, where we can find ideas for gifts, decor, small items to have fun. «What was missing in Libreville,» she continues. «It is a very cozy place to live, where many objects offer a meeting between Africa and the West, a place where you can also enjoy quality tea and coffee from around the world. The shop tries to promote women and men who have talent, know how to create beautiful items with their hands ».
Corridors of the Palace …
Annie Blondel has the same determination, that of developing Gabon. After studying international relations in Europe, she returned to Gabon to start her professional career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She then flew to France where she started a communication and public relations agency. But when Ali Bongo Ondimba ascended to power in Gabon, in 2009, she returns to join his entourage. Special advisor to the president on tourism, she was then dispatched to the National Agency of National Parks (ANPN). Her mission : to promote Gabon’s tourism potential while respecting the environment.
… to entrepreneurship
A raw hand in entrepreneurship, Annie is no less a wise businesswoman. Driven by a passion, art, her passage behind the corridors of power, fueled her taste for travel. For her, cultural entrepreneurship is an alternative to despair, the problem African youth face for lack of future prospects. «Gabon has an incredibly rich and limitless cultural heritage. Our country is extremely generous materially but we have some way to go from a relational point of view. Changing minds is our biggest challenge, fighting negativity too. People must learn to live their own lives, not the neighbor’s.»
«I am a whirlwind, I could create businesses wherever I am because the world is open.»
Hearing, Annie is far from being the only one to share this craze. In a country where private initiative remains undeveloped due to oil annuity requires, more and more women to launch. «I am a businesswoman, very happy to become one. I am very supported by many people, I listen a lot advice, humility can grow. Perseverance is a great quality, seriousness, the taste of risk! I am a real whirlwind, I could create businesses wherever I am because the world is open. Gabonese women have talent and are business women, today they are supported … and they still want it!»