Artist Jems Koko Bi carves a new meaning for wealth
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Le chant du colibri, Jems Koko Bi, 2020. Courtesy The artist & Gallery Cecile Fakhoury
Le chant du colibri, Jems Koko Bi, 2020. Courtesy The Artist & Gallery Cecile Fakhoury

Virtual studio visits have become basic staples in an art world gone all-digital, but perhaps some of the most intriguing of these studio tours are still yet to be recorded. One of them would undoubtedly be with artist Jems Koko Bi. How enthralling would it be to see him engage in his habitual pre-sculpting dialogue with wood? Asking the wood, he is about to transform where it came from, querying the life stories inscribed deep inside the layers of striations.

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“Souv-reine:” a visual investigation into what it means to be a woman today ?
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Exhibition Souv-eine, Installed view
Exhibition Souv-eine, Installed view.

Ain’t I a Woman?” The question is attributed to Sojourner Truth and is thought to have punctuated the speech she delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Ohio (USA). In the powerful speech, the civil rights activist underlined women’s ability to stand on an equal footing with men. Since then, “Ain’t I a Woman?” has become a shorthand to castigate the feminist movement for turning a blind eye to the plight of black women and a rallying cry for black women’s rights movements and feminists worldwide.

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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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