Omar Ba paints a dense treatise of an alternative epistemology and ways of being
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Omar Ba, Superman and The Constitution I, 2021,
Omar Ba, Superman and The Constitution I, 2021, Acrylic, pencil, oil, Indian ink and Bic pen on cardboard 250 x 150 cm -98 3/7 x 59 1/16 in

In the liminal space between dreams and reality, present and future, Omar Ba paints a vision of a radically different future while formulating an acerbic critic of the present. 

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Nigerian artist Williams Chechet creates a visual space of jubilant cultural encounters
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Williams Chetchet, Mon voyage
Williams Chetchet, Mon voyage

“I love colors. […] I really like bright colors,” professes Nigerian artist Williams Chechet. It is a long-running love story dating back to his childhood before his memory of such love was even formed. “My mum,” he continued, “told me I was really attracted to bright lights.” Forty years on, his artistic practice is a testament to his unwavering love of colors, but it is also about a lot more.

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A plunge into the deep blue submarine world of Arnold Fokam
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Arnold Fokam, AquariHomme at Goethe Institute in Yaoundé
Arnold Fokam, AquariHomme at Goethe Institute in Yaoundé

AquariHomme, an exhibition at the Goethe Institute in Yaoundé, plunges viewers into the whimsical world of the artist Arnold Fokam. This alternate blue world is inhabited by aquatic chimeras that are half-human and half sea-creatures. Here, underwater, these female creatures nurture a different kind of life. Their see-through bodies are the seats of thriving marine life. Pink, green and yellow foliage fills out their bodies and, at times, stretches out, contrasting elegantly with the ambient deep blue of marine life. 

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Roméo Mivekannin deconstructs the history of the visual representation of the Black body in art
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The Souls of Black Folk, Roméo Mivekannin, courtesy the artist and Gallery Cecile Fakhoury.
The Souls of Black Folk, Roméo Mivekannin, courtesy the artist and Gallery Cecile Fakhoury.

Roméo Mivekannin’s solo show « The Souls of Black Folk » is a haunting, visual, and archaeological excavation. He dwells at specific historical junctures to examine anthropological pictures, paintings such as Manet’s Olympia and Benoist’s iconic portrait of a Black woman with an exposed bosom. Although these visual materials are usually buried in archival libraries and art history books, their legacies still linger in our collective memories. Mivekannin deconstructs the history of the visual representation of the Black body in art by subverting the codes of visual imagery.

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Artist Ishola Akpo’s museum show reveals the silenced history of African Queens
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Ishola Akpo, Exhibition Agbara Women, at the Musée de la Fondation Zinsou, Courtesy the Artist
Ishola Akpo, Exhibition Agbara Women, at the Musée de la Fondation Zinsou, Courtesy the Artist

Forgotten no more. At The Musée de la Fondation Zinsou in Ouidah (Benin), artist Ishola Akpo thwarts the silences of history and revives the memory and legacy of pre-colonial African Queens, Tassi Hangbé of Dahomey (Benin), Queen Nzinga of Angola, and others.

The image is arresting. At its center and drawing all the attention is a fearless ruler with a piercing gaze, gripping a long spear. For now, the monarch, surrounded by four members of the royal guard, is seated but appears ready to leap up into combat mode at any moment.

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Your ultimate guide to exhibitions by Black artists in London in October
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Alexis Peskine, Moto wa Uhanini, 2020. Mixed media, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London
Alexis Peskine, Moto wa Uhanini, 2020. Mixed media, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London

Museums and art galleries in London have slowly emerged from the shadows that Covid-19 plunged them into in March. Even if the threat of the pandemic and the economic hardship it has brought are still lurking, so far, the contemporary African scene has been resilient and weathered the storm. Case in point, the specialist art fair 1:54 Contemporary African Art will be the odd one out when it opens the doors of Somerset House to African art collectors.

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A new contemporary African art show, There, Here, Nowhere: Dwelling at the edge of the world,” explores the liminal space occupied by the Black diaspora
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Swimming in the Lagos Marina, Chukwudubem Ukaigwe, 2020. Exhibition There, Here, Nowhere: Dwelling at the Edge of the World. Courtesy Kanbi Projects
Swimming in the Lagos Marina, Chukwudubem Ukaigwe, 2020. Exhibition There, Here, Nowhere: Dwelling at the Edge of the World. Courtesy Kanbi Projects.

Kanbi Projects, in collaboration with The Koppel Project Exchange, presents “There, Here, Nowhere: Dwelling at the edge of the world,” a new show that examines Black Diasporic experiences through the visual narratives of four emerging Black artists: Ekene Maduka, Austin Uzor, Tobi Alexandra Falade, and Chukwudubem Ukaigwe.

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Artist Elom 20ce reasserts art and culture as vital vessels to reformulate African identities
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Exhibition Le Silence est un Cri (Silence is a Scream)
Exhibition Le Silence est un Cri (Silence is a Scream)

Away from economic considerations, young Togolese artist Elom 20ce is on a quest to reposition art and culture as essential vessels to reformulate African identities and self-worth.

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A resilient contemporary African art community faces the coronavirus storm
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Enam Gbewonyo, Venice Nude Me Performance, © Michal-Murawski
Enam Gbewonyo, Venice Nude Me Performance, © Michal-Murawski

Museums and galleries: shuttered! Art fairs and biennales: postponed indefinitely! Previews, artists’ talks, and performances: cancelled! The extreme measures taken to dampen the swift spread of the coronavirus pandemic have brought the art world in its present form to a screeching halt. Unwittingly, the confinement measures have also exposed the fragile financial health of numerous art and cultural organisations and precipitated the closure of others. Suddenly, a question that would have seemed unfathomable only a few months ago, becomes reasonable: if some of these long-standing institutions cannot outlive this crisis, what would become of the budding contemporary African art scene?

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Spread the joy of experiencing contemporary African art from the comfort of your home.
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Billie ZANGEWA Soldier of Love , 2020, Soie brodée / Embroidered silk ©Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels
Billie ZANGEWA, Soldier of Love, 2020, Soie brodée / Embroidered silk © Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels

 

Welcome to the first of #Artinthetimeofcovid19 series.

Let’s face it: things are rather grim in the world right now. The death toll caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge. Meanwhile, businesses and public spaces have had to shut down as part of an extensive set of sanitary measures designed to contain the disease. These measures are saving our lives while sadly endangering our livelihood. And now, ongoing confinement has started taking its toll on people’s mental health.

We can’t change this gloomy climate. However, we can create within it, a virtual space of escapism: one that transports us into studios, exhibition spaces, or into gripping visual tales. #Artinthetimeofcovid19 

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