An “explosion of interest in modern and contemporary African art”

There has been a large focus on artists from Africa or of African descent happening in the last few years in the art world: from an Africa specific talk program at Art Basel, African artists participating at the Venice Biennale, high value sales at Auction houses, London’s Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House and many exhibitions in large and small galleries.

Many current up-and-coming artists with African roots explore their traditional/historical background, including spiritual themes, whilst investigating also their daily domestic life in modern society. Their works often contain social critique against racial and sexist stereotypes.

Laura James’ intriguing “Nanny series” is particularly interesting to me. These paintings combine the use of surrealist painting and postcolonial theory to address issues of gender, work, and motherhood in the lives of domestic workers living in New York City.

The Party, 2002 by Laura James / Bridgeman Images
The Party, 2002 by Laura James / Bridgeman Images

This Autumn is rich with events for African Art:

Fondazione Prada – Milan’s “lighthouse” for brave exhibitions – currently presents the Afro-American artist Betye Saar right after Angolan artist Nastio Mosquito’s show in summer time – “Betye Saar. Uneasy Dancer”, 15th September – 8th January 2017. See images by Betye Saar.

Milan’s MUDEC will open its doors on 28 October to show the well known Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Jean-Michel Basquiat DJing at Area, New York, 1985 (b/w photo) / Photo © Ben Buchanan / Bridgeman Images
Jean-Michel Basquiat DJing at Area, New York, 1985 (b/w photo) / Photo © Ben Buchanan / Bridgeman Images  See more images by Jean Michel Basquiat

The auction house Bonhams is at the forefront of the market. Its most recent auction “Africa Now” took place in London on 6 October.

Chris Ofili’s controversial The Holy Virgin Mary was sold at Christie’s for £2.9 million in June 2015.

The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996 by Chris Ofili / Bridgeman Images
The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996 by Chris Ofili / Bridgeman Images              See more contemporary African art sold at Christie’s.

In addition to Frieze London, where Schlingensief’s “Opera Village Africa” was presented, the Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House  took place this month from 6 – 9 October. You can explore more African art currently shown in some of the most interesting galleries in London:

See more images by artists of African descent in BI archive.

 

Later this month, from 27 October, the British Museum is presenting South African Art from ancient times to today’s cutting-edge contemporary works: South Africa: the art of a nation

South Africa. Ndebele / Bridgeman Images
South Africa. Ndebele / Bridgeman Images

Check out BMW’s collaboration with South African artist Esther Mahlangu who coated the bodywork of one of the brands art car with tribal Ndebele art.

http://www.bmwartcarcollection.com/2011/05/12-esther-mahlangu-bmw-art-car/

Last but not least, one of my favourite African artists, seen at Venice Biennale:  Karo Akpokiere from Nigeria.

If you are in London and want to celebrate African culture have a delicious Ethopian meal at Woolkite Kitfo (next to Arsenal Stadium)!

 

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Explore contemporary African artworks in the archive

 

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