Tuesday, 18 April 2017

In 21st Century Art Explosion, No Longer Ignoring Africa


The first two decades of 21st Century, which is flexing muscles of fresh art (in Re-Renaissance?) across the world is no doubt being flavoured  by the presence of Africa. It's a changing narrative that doubters of Africa's influence on nineteenth/twentieth century European art would not be able to deny in the unfolding global artholic.
Art Paris Art Fair 1017
  Presence of art from Africa at major events across the world in the last one month has confirmed that indeed, artists of African descents are gradually gaining well-deserved recognition on the global space. The last few weeks, which had African artists shown in Paris, France and Beijing, China appeared very encouraging.

 These two recent events added to the impressive showing of African artists at Art Dubai four weeks ago.

 Reports from Art Paris Art Fair 2017, indicate that contemporary African art was
well received.  Among 139 galleries from 29 different countries at the Grand Palais were about 70 African artists shown by 20 galleries. Some of the artists whose works were shown included Romuald Hazoume, Solly Cisse of Benin Republic and Senegal as well as Binebine of MorroccoBen Bella and  El Kamel from Tunisia.

 Elsewhere, a foreign publication IOL reports that 'Chinese pay tribute to African art at Beijing show'. The report mentioned how director of the National Museum of China, Lu Zhangshen acknowledged the influence of African sculptures on Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Georges Braque.

  The African art exhibition viewed from the Internet revealed that sculptures on display were of traditional or ancient art forms "from central and west Africa."

About 600 of works shown were said to have been donated to the museum by Xie Yanshen, a Chinese art professor and an expert on African artefacts.

 A month ago, in Dubai, UAE, about 10 African artists and one gallery from the continent though was under-representation for what the continent could produce. But the fair's 2017 edition featured 93 galleries from 43 countries offered a wide space for sharing diversity of culture through art.

 Africa may not be getting as much representation at top international art events, but contents, and not volume, should be of focus, given the rising opportunity that abound abroad for artists of the continent to explore. The Art Pairs, which had the largest presence of Art from Africa till date  among top similar events anywhere in the world has boosted  the new narrative; a change from the old concerns such as lack of space.

 And with four-edition-old 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair - took off in London as debut and currently added New York, perhaps Marrakech - the 21st century global renaissance in art cannot ignore Africa.

 More importantly, international art gathering on the continent is also increasing with Art X Lagos and Art Africa Fair in Cape Town.

-Tajudeen Sowole.


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