AKAA, Contemporary African Art and Design fair hits its stride on the 4th attempt
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maya-ines-touam-triptyque-vertical-sans-titre-1-tirage-photographique-sous-diassec-mat-3-x-105-x-70-cm-2019-ed-3-1-ap-courtesy-african-arty
Maya-Ines Touam, Triptyque vertical sans titre, Courtesy African Arty

The 4th edition of the Contemporary African Art and Design fair AKAA (Also Known As Africa) opened a day earlier to a select group of collectors and art insiders. By the time the fair opened for the official preview on Friday 8th, the clues that this would be a better, well-rounded selection – compared with preview editions – were evident. This was an edition rooted in the youthfulness of artists recounting a multifaceted contemporary Africa, investigating the continent’s cultural hybridity and, more importantly, reimagining its future. 

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Young Cameroonian artist Marc Padeu sets surprising new records at Piasa Contemporary African art auction
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Marc Padeu, Voici l'homme !, 2019. Courtesy of the artist
Marc Padeu, Voici l’homme !, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

For African Art lovers, Piasa’s contemporary African art auction has become a standard feature on the Parisian autumnal art calendar alongside the art and design fair AKAA, Also Known As Africa. However, the more surprising aspects of the auction were the new records established by young Cameroonian artist Marc Padeu and other artists recently introduced to the secondary market.

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Ben Enwonwu dominates Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary African art auction
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Ben Enwonwu, Christine, 1971
Ben Enwonwu, Christine, 1971

In the astronomical world of contemporary art where sales at auctions amounted to $29.1 billion in 2018 (according to the latest Art Basel and USB Global report), £4 m ($4.6m) is infinitesimally small. Yet, it calls for a great deal of relativism as that is precisely the new record for a single auction of Modern and Contemporary African Art.

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Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus, emphatically propels Black History into the collective consciousness.
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Kara Walker, Fons Americanus at the Tate in London
Kara Walker, Fons Americanus at the Tate in London

Veni Vidi Vici. The sentence attributed to Jules Cesar encapsulates the way history is crudely memorialized in public spaces. Grandiloquent and gilded statues often favour the single perspective of those who came, saw, and conquered. Of these constructed heroes, we are collectively required only to remember their reported gestures of self-sacrifice, courage, and endearing ability to triumph against all the odds.

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Celebrated Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu dominates a lacklustre Modern & Contemporary African Art Auction at Bonhams.
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Ben Enwonwu, Portrait of Marianne, 1972. Modern & Contemporary African Art Auction at Bonhams
Ben Enwonwu, Portrait of Marianne, 1972. Modern & Contemporary African Art Auction at Bonhams

Bonhams‘s customary modern and contemporary African Art auction yields a little over £2 million, barely over the aggregate of the presales low estimate.

The £2 million of sales is a lacklustre result for an auction held during Frieze London and on the opening day of the Contemporary African Art Fair 1:54, when international collectors flock to london and are expected to be on a spending spree.

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Time-sensitive opportunities for African artists
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Wall Art

The journey to developing an artistic practice is long and tortuous. We gather in our “art opportunities” posts, time-sensitive opportunities for the attention of African performing and visual artists. Here are 4 opportunities for October. Good luck with your applications. 

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Otobong Nkanga wins the inaugural Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award
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Artist Otobong Nkanga Winner of the inaugural Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award
Artist Otobong Nkanga Winner of the inaugural Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award

The Norwegian museum, The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, has awarded its inaugural Lise Wilhelmsen Art prize of $100,000 to Nigerian-born artist Otobong Nkanga.

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Only 1% of 2018 cultural infrastructure is located in Africa
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The City of Culture in Tunis, Ministry of Culture,
The City of Culture in Tunis, Ministry of Culture, 2018

The latest Cultural Infrastructure Index has been published, and only 3 projects out of the 270 completed or announced worldwide in 2018 are located in Africa. 

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3 Career-boosting opportunities for African artists
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Entrance Macaal Museum Marrakech
Entrance Macaal (Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden) in Marrakech

The longer days in Europe, or the preparations for the cultural festivals on the continent all evoke the end of a season. Before we all delve into this joyous and restful period, there is a last ditch of effort to make. Here is a trio of career-enhancing opportunities for African Artists and those of the Diaspora to apply for. If you are a visual artist, a curator read on, and good luck on your art journey.

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3 Young Black artists are making waves at auctions
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Tschabalala Self, Out of Body, 2015
Tschabalala Self, Out of Body, 2015

3 Young Black artists, Tschabalala Self, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, set new records at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips’ Contemporary Art Auctions in London.

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