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1 – 54 African Art Fair at Somerset House

Frieze week is always fun… the sore feet, queues, fashionistas, the prices, warm Champagne and the mad rush around. The truth is we missed it, we missed it a lot.

This year, Frieze was a virtual affair but one factor remained the same, 1-54 African Art Fair held at Somerset House was a breath of fresh air.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is the leading international fair dedicated to art from the 54 countries that constitute the African continent. A leading voice in the global discussion on contemporary African art, this year the fair showcased 37 international galleries from 17 countries, it’s the place to discover new and more established artists. Here are some of our favourites…

Jack Bell Gallery

Goncalo Mabunda is an artist from Mozambique who draws on the collective memory of his country, which has recently emerged from a long civil war. He works with arms recovered in 1992, at the end of the sixteen-year conflict that divided the country.

Jack Bell Gallery, Goncalo Mabunda, Throne of Intellectuals 2019, 91x142x66

Guns & Rain Gallery

Guns & Rain is a gallery in Johannesburg that hosts work by emerging artists from seven African countries, with a focus on social and political issues.

I was lucky enough to join a Zoom call with the artist Tuli Mekondjo and Guns & Rain Gallery. It was fascinating to hear the process of this talented self taught artist.

Tuli works with mixed media (embroidery, collage, paint, resin and mahangu grain – a Namibian food staple) and extends these textures into performance.

Guns & Rain Gallery, Tuli Mekondjo, Linyongamenta Oikalunga yo ye (Bow Down to Your Pagan Gods), Mixed media on Canvas

Drawing on photographic archives and histories of the loss and erasure of Namibian cultural practices, she explores history and identity politics through the lens of those who lived in exile during Namibia’s independence war.

Sensitive botanical vines pay homage to her forebears, fertility and continuity, whilst veiled figures comment on gender struggles, intergenerational trauma, and displacement, bearing a quiet grief and a quest for truth.

50 Golborne Road

A visit to 50 Golborne Road will always fill you with inspiration. We love British-Nigerian artist Ranti Bam’s colourful painted vessels.

50 Golborne Road, Ranti Bam, Terracotta painted pots

The Gallery of Everything

Johnson Weree is from Liberia, later moving to the Netherlands where he continues to create his lively portraits. His works are so colourful and look wonderful hung as a collection around the marble fireplace

Here are the Gallery Delta girls looking very 2020 in their Prada face masks. We love this wooden table as well.

Sulger-Buel Gallery

Adjani Okpu-Egbe is an artist born in 1979 in Kumba, Southern Cameroon also known as Ambazonia. This wonderful thought provoking piece was painted on old doors, I love the bookshelves either side.

Bearing Witness to Dystopia: Multi Generational Genocide, Fascism and Rumours of Civil war, 2020. Mixed media on wooden door panels, cactus artificial Plants, plastic owl, Afro hair comb, world globe and books 200x 215 x 30

Galerie Ernst Hilger

Founded in 1971, Galerie Ernst Hilger is based in Vienna. Along with exponents of Austrian modernism from the 1960s onward and important international art movements of the 20th century, this gallery is well worth a visit.

Peterson Kamwathi is arguably one of the most well known Kenyan artists still resident in Kenya, with works in the British Museum. His artworks are wild and surreal, I loved these colourful paintings.

Galerie Ernst Hilger, Peterson Kamwathi, Mixed media on Paper
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