The round up of Contemporary African Art at London Art Fair

Posted on
Renaissance, Wole Lagunju, 2017
Renaissance, Wole Lagunju, 2017 at Ed Cross Fine Art Booth, London Art Fair

The art calendar started in earnest with London Art Fair last week. The bustling art world of the city congregated in Islington to mark the fair 30th anniversary and discover works by well-established and emerging artists.

I went for an immersive and diverse Art experience with a particular interest in the “Art Projects” section since my focus is on Contemporary African Art. Misal Adnan Yildiz curated the 2018 edition of the “Art Projects” around the theme “Dialogue”.

ARTCO Gallery: Marion Boehm’s Solo Show.

Solo Show Marion-Boehm at London Art Fair
Left: Jabulile, 2017. Right: Muinda’s Pray, 2017, Marion-Boehm. ARTCO Gallery Booth at London Art Fair

ARTCO, The Gallery based in Germany has opted for a solo show of the Multi-Media artist Marion Boehm. She casts a critical eye on history and uses her unique portraits to question the lack of representation or the misrepresentation of black people. Her black Virgin Mary, “Jabulile” (2017), echoing Samuel Fosso’s Black Pope, questions both the lack of black religious icons in Christianity and the religion’s take over of the traditional beliefs in South Africa.

Ed Cross Fine Art Gallery

Shiraz Bayjoo's work, Ed Cross Fine Art, London Art Fair 2018
Shiraz Bayjoo’s work, Ed Cross Fine Art, London Art Fair

In a sea of white background, Ed Cross Fine Art‘s booth, curated by Katherine Finerty , stood out with the deep blue background. The decor complemented the visual works of the two artists showcased: Shiraz Bayjoo and Wole Lagunju and blurred the lines between decorative arts and fine art.

The maritime-themed work of the Mauritius born artist Shiraz Bayjoo explores the stories that oceans could tell. In paintings evocative of the stories of his native island, his work speaks of colonial conquests, sea expeditions and marine life.

Opposite, in the “blue cube”, were Wole Lagunju’s signature style hybrid portraits of women and men wearing modern clothes and sporting as heads, striking traditional Guelede masks (of the Yoruba people in Nigeria). They evoke past and present and a fluid identity that is continuously shifting borrowing from heritage and modernity.

Perve Galeria Lisbon.

Most discourses about colonization are centered around English and French history. Manuela Jardim of Guinea Bissau’s brings to the fore the Portuguese legacy. Her sculptures made of craft paper paste feature Islamic, Christian and Traditional iconographies and reflect the diverse cultural and religious influences still present in her native country: Guinea – Bissau.

Reencounters 15, Reencounters 16, Manuela Jardim, 2017
Reencounters 15, Reencounters 16, Manuela Jardim, 2017

Elsewhere, the second booth of ARTCO Gallery, dedicated to the group show put the spotlight on the latest series of photographs by Justin Dingwall. The South African photographer is famous for his previous “Albus” Series. The ethereal portraits of Albinos challenge the notions of beauty and denounce the treatment some Albinos still suffer in some African countries. His new work continues to question our perceptions and popular beauty standards. In a nod to surrealist artist René Magritte, the new series of photographs feature a model with a white dove sitting on her head like a crown or perching on her shoulder.

She Who May Not Be Turned, Justin Dingwall, 2017,
Details She Who May Not Be Turned, Justin Dingwall, 2017, ARTCO Gallery

The Gallery also featured two other artists Bruce Clarke and Ransome Stanley

The former, both an artist and activist has made political concerns a recurring theme in his visual practice. His “Unthinkable Things” was reminiscent of a famous picture of Nelson Mandela in a boxing practice on a rooftop in Soweto.

In a completely different category, Ransome Stanley’s borrowing from the surrealist movement, uses the canvas to juxtapose, concepts and ideas seemingly separate, challenging the traditional notion of space and time.

I couldn’t finish this round up without mentioning Artist Hassan Hajjaj‘s work, Naabz Channel, featured in Gallery Vigo’s booth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *