Moulaye Niang | Muranero

Sul Muranero e Moulaye potete approfondire sulla sua pagina, qui in fondo invece: il mio articolo scritto per TurnOnArt che ha scelto le sue perle per pubblicarle per prime, esclamando: "what an intriguing character indeed…!"

Natasa Radovic


Moulaye Niang is the first Senegalese immigrant to become a master in the art of glassmaking in Venice.

The Way the Beads Returned (2012) is a documentary by Franco Basaglia, which reflects the strength and determination of a person, about the importance of learning: "The film tells the story of Moulaye Niang, the first Senegalese immigrant who becomes a master in the art of glassmaking in Venice. As someone quite fond of this art, Moulaye arrived in Italy as a tourist and found himself facing one of the most exclusive groups of our country: the Masters of Murano, the fire island. Moulaye began a new journey where he discovered the tragedy of a place and an art that was at risk of disappearing. He looked at the world around him knowing that he could not return, as only those who take something with them can go back. In a country where African people are considered illegal aliens, doomed to sell bags and trinkets along the way, what happens when somebody breaks the cycle?"

The film starts with Moulaye, laughing above the orange flame that is melting the glass cane: "I arrived here in in the most common way, I didn't swim, no tramp ships - I took a plane".

The city startled him and he decided to stay. He was fascinated by the way the glass was born: after all, it is earth, it is sand and it is fire, mixed with his breath and his soul. It was a trying journey and being African did not help at all. But this ambitious artist only took two years to open the Murano gates and get his workshop set up. As stubborn, smiling, willing and determined as he was, he was able to make it happen. Over a decade now Moulaye has been creating glass beads without ever getting tired of his trade. Although he has worked with great masters such as Davide Salvadore, Pino Signoretto, and Afro Celotto, and claims Egidio Costantini as his mentor, he is always seeking ways to distinguish himself through technique, as well as colour palette. He aspires to evoke the colours and the atmosphere of Africa. A while back, I swear I even heard sand moving and birds flying in one of his big, beautiful beads.

His project is called Muranero, which is a blend between the words Murano and 'nero', which means 'black' in Italian. "Muranero is not a shop; it's a studio, an atelier. And I am not an artist, but an artisan that carries out a copy." Moulaye was born in Dakar, but raised in Paris; later in life he seeked out his native roots in Africa. He claims that he creates copies of the world that he was surrounded by while growing up with his artistic family. While watching his father create silver and gold jewellery, Moulaye would imagine his own. "In Venice, upon seeing my reflection in the water, I saw all my imperfections, fears, failures... and then I found myself again.”

Art is time. Being able to handle the time, to create with no rush, is the greatest work of art. "I am in constant search of emotions; everything is simple and immediate." In fact, there is not much to say about something so visible and obvious as that which can be seen through Muranero’s window. He has no secret to hide and is willing to reveal his work process openly, as he reflects: “there is no learning without sharing.” This is why Moulaye can proudly say he’s now Venetian, he’s found a direct way to other people’s hearts through his work.

Moulaye feels profoundly tied to beads, as they are present everywhere in the African culture: "The bead is self-sufficient. Its form is of African nature." The incredible mixture of gain and loss has become a completely new form, expression and beauty. It’s unique the way traditional West African ornaments form a visual language that speaks about status, beliefs, family, accomplishments and life experiences of the wearer, revealing their personal stories. It’s not a concept present in this part of the world. We speak and seduce with symbols of mere decoration and appearance, with no meaning, tradition or embedded story.

Moulaye's beads speak another type of story - they speak his own stories. Stories, languages, and people pass by, in front and through his atelier. He draws inspiration from the entirety of those people, the constant vision of them, the approaches that occur. He's inspired by people, as each person has its own colours. Moulaye has been altered for a great cause: he has impacted anybody he encountered, he smiled at or made a glass bead for. And everything has been simple, immediate, returning, ever since.

© Natasa Radovic 2013 TurnOnArt - IvoryPress


Crafting the dreams - Moulaye's working desk and tools

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Model: Louisa Arnold © 2013 Carousel Loader

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