Amine El Gotaibi 'Illuminate the Light'

The 11th edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, held at Somerset House in London, hosted 62 international exhibitors from over 31 countries, making it the largest edition to date. Among these 62 international exhibitors, The African Art Hub was one of the 14 galleries participating in the fair’s London edition for the first time. The 1-54 Art Fair made a triumphant return to the heart of London at Somerset House, spanning from October 12th to 15th. The 1-54 London event appeared more expansive than ever, with a substantial crowd converging around the Neoclassical complex, generating a palpable vibration throughout the fair.

The African Art Hub (TAAH) established its presence in the vibrant complex at booth E24. The booth's expert curation was orchestrated by project manager Pratiti Shah, resulting in a striking and aesthetically pleasing arrangement that showcased the captivating works of Nigerian artist Ibrahim Bamidele alongside the artistic creations of Ghanaian artists Frederick Botchway and Theresah Ankomah. This attention-grabbing booth drew in a significant number of visitors who were captivated by the bold and distinctive artworks on display.

Ibrahim Bamidele's paintings exuded an aura of regal sophistication and cultural richness. Within TAAH’s meticulously curated booth, his compositions came alive, captivating visitors with compelling, bold imagery that resonated with a deep sense of identity and heritage. Bamidele's paintings generally evoke the presence of African royalty while masterfully capturing the vibrant hues and textures of Ankara fabrics. His compositions are imbued with a profound sense of visual storytelling, weaving together narratives that depict life's joys, social customs, and poignant stories passed down through generations. Through halos, Bamidele pays homage to black figures erased from European art history, acknowledging their indelible role in shaping the African identity. In this way, his art becomes a reflection of a people's collective memory and resilience, a testament to the power of representation and the enduring spirit of a culture.

Ibrahim Bamidele, Paraclete, Oil paint and fabric on canvas

Ibrahim Bamidele, Madonna in Thought, Oil paint and fabric on canvas

Frederick Botchway's delicate and intricate works beckoned forth curiosity and wonder, offering a striking counterpoint to the vibrant paintings of Bamidele and Ankomah, and yet, they possessed an allure equally profound. Through the fusion of photography and cooking oil, Botchway's pieces transcend the boundaries of reality, venturing into the realms of mysticism and fantasy. Inspired by Western Academic art history, Botchway reimagines traditional oil painting, employing an experimental approach that explores the iconography and materiality of oil paint, often incorporating photography and editing techniques. His creations defy hierarchical canons, as cooking oil merges with oil paint on photographic prints, giving rise to intriguing, non-representational compositions. In this way, Botchway's art invites us to question established norms and embrace the possibilities of unconventional mediums and techniques as we navigate the complexities of perception and interpretation in visual expression.

Fredrick Botchway, Stuck in Solitude,  Oil paint and cooking oil on paper

Theresah Ankomah's 1-54 Special project, "Yɛ yɛ dɔm," was installed within the grand dome of Somerset House's Nelson Staircase, serving as an ode to collective unity and marginalized communities. Ankomah's multifaceted expressions found a natural extension within TAAH's booth, manifesting through her mesmerizing screen prints, randomly adorned with embroidery stitches. Within this artistic exploration, Ankomah daringly questions the conventional utility of objects, delving deep into the realms of consumerism, the dynamics of gender, and the complex intricacies of identity. In doing so, she extends an invitation to viewers, urging them to contemplate the profound layers of meaning concealed within the often-overlooked artifacts of our daily lives.

Theresah Ankomah, Ye ye dom, Dyed onion baskets with jute threads

Theresah Ankomah, Sika Fou, Vat dye, acrylic paint screen print and thread on canvas

TAAH's participation in this year's 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair underscores their commitment to fostering meaningful engagements between artists and collectors, offering art enthusiasts a captivating journey of discovery and investment. The African Art Hub (TAAH), established in November 2021, is a UK-based art platform and agency dedicated to promoting contemporary African art. TAAH’s mission, guided by Managing Director Abraham Abia, is to curate exceptional works by African and diaspora artists, providing them with a global stage through collaborations with galleries and participation in prestigious art fairs. TAAH celebrates the transformative power of African art, merging tradition and innovation while embracing diverse narratives.

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