Francois-Xavier Gbré

Francois-Xavier Gbré
Francois-Xavier Gbré

Through his seductive photographs of crumbling buildings, François-Xavier Gbré interrogates the architectural evidence of colonial history and highlights what he terms the ‘absurdity’ that power brings.

Taken from the ongoing series, Tracks, the photographs exhibited in We Face Forward are not just documents of the forgotten.
Many of Gbré’s photographs record the moments before, or during, great change. Conducting interviews with people who know the buildings intimately, Gbré traces the changing fortunes of the spaces he photographs.

Buildings in the series include the Modibo Keita swimming pool in Bamako, photographed in 2009 during its renovation by a Chinese company, the Elizabeth Hotel and Theatre in Israel, used by British forces during the Second World War, La Duchère in Lyon, a utopian 1960s housing block principally home to exiles from the Algerian war knocked down in 2010.

Gbré documents the complexitiesof international politics and the histories written in the stone and concrete he photographs, asking ‘which part of history is kept and which part is forgotten?’1

1 Email to Bryony Bond 11 April 2012.


Born in 1978 in Lille, France. Lives in Bamako, Mali and works between Europe and West Africa.

Born in Lille, France to a French mother and an Ivorian Coast father, Gbré studied at the Ecole Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques, Montpellier, France.

Recent shows include Synchronicity II, Tiwani Contemporary, London, 2012; 9th Rencontres de Bamako: Biennale Africaine de la Photographie, Bamako, Mali, 2011; Synchronicity – Photoquai, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France, 2011; Margate Photo Fest, Margate, UK, 2011; 9th International Fashion Photography Festival, Cannes, France 2011.

Second prize in PhotoAfrica, 2010.


Martin Barlow, curator of the exhibition Moving Into Space at the National Football Museum talks about the exhibition.

Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

Twitter (#wefaceforward)

Creative Tourist


Nine countries show off their talent as five city venues link up for a summer celebration. Helen Nugent in the Guardian

Street life, dazzling dress, social commentary and a riot of sensuous colour interweave in a rich assembly of West African art, writes Charles Gore in the Times Higher Education