The past few years have indeed been dramatic for African contemporary art. Art from the African continent and diaspora made a bold and magnificent presence in several art biennials in many art capitals and has  created waves that are etched in the memory of collectors, gallerists and other stakeholders.  

 

Art Basel, Venice Biennial, high profile auction houses and exhibitions in both large and small galleries across the globe have equally noted the interest in contemporary African art. This interest has resulted in sales of works by African artists hitting over 70 million US Dollars in recent months. 

 

Equally noticeable is the construction of diverse art spaces in various parts of the continent by artists and other investors - these include the huge Red Clay Studios / Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), a magnificent art residency by Nigerian artist Kehinde Wiley (Senegal), an aspiring art residency by British / Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare (Nigeria) and among others. 

 

The role of 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair in the rising demand for art from Africa cannot be underestimated. By featuring leading international galleries alongside scholarly interventions that accompany the fairs in London (United Kingdom), Marrakech (Morocco) and New York (United States), it has fueled an intense rise in the interest in African art by collectors worldwide. 

 

“The exhibition was varied, bright and thought provoking - the difference in styles, mediums and subjects meant that there was something for everyone and the representation of contemporary African art was not a caricature but a real smorgasbord”, says Abraham Abia, director of The African Art Hub (TAAH), who attended the 2022 edition of 1-54 London. He further mentions, “The fair felt refreshingly new, unpretentious and unconstrained by prototypical types”. 

 

The themes explored varied greatly, from artists investigating their roots, traditions and historical backgrounds while exploring spiritual themes, to day-to-day life in bustling cities and towns on the continent alongside subtle and blatant critique on the socio-political situations. 



 

Charlene Komuntale, 

"Aqua Dresses from the Not Fragile Series," 2022,

 Digital painting, Archival print, 80 x 80 cm


“It’s exciting to witness the rising visibility of artists on the African continent. Artists are drawing recognition both at home and internationally. The otherworldly digital paintings of Ugandan artist Charlene Komuntale, are breathtaking, teetering at the edge of reality, rendered in surreal compositions and full of metaphorical and symbolic references”, Abia further explains in reference to 1-54. 



 

Sthenjwa Luthuli, 

Saved Soul, 2020, 

Hand-carved wood and paint, 198 x 149 cm.


“South African artist, Sthenjwa Luthuli’s headless figures are fabricated in stunning complex and intricate wooden reliefs. The moving figures and background are engulfed in striking vibrant colours and circular forms while Moroccan Omar Mafoudi’s painting titled “Sitting in the Blue Tree”, are fluid acrylic washes executed in blue hues”, he adds. 



 

Omar Mahfoudi, 

Sitting in the blue tree, 2022, 

Acrylic on canvas, 130 x 160 cm.


“Omar’s cinematic representation evokes a play on abstract elements and figuration. The longer one stares at the painting the more mysterious the composition becomes until one is transported into a world of myth and fantasy. Overall, the artists listed at the fair partly represent a mix of emerging and young creatives, originating novel and groundbreaking work”, Abia concludes.


 

TAAH is thrilled to participate in the next edition of 1-54 London, which takes place in 2023 and its team is working tirelessly behind the scenes to acquire a booth at the art fair. Led by project manager Pratiti Shah, the Agency is working on ways to present its artists and their practice in a memorable manner. 

 

Continually expanding its portfolio of new talent and strongly committed to the promotion of artists on its roster, TAAH remains confident it will emerge as one of the leading art agency platforms within the industry, breaking moulds with innovative and exciting projects. 

 

TAAH strives to be at the forefront of efforts to break barriers and reinvent bridges between artists and collectors (corporate and private), galleries, museums and art aficionados while ensuring that African artistry is valued as it deserves.



 

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