1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is the leading international fair dedicated to art from the 54 countries that constitute the African continent.
It is the second year it has been held at La Mamounia hotel in the centre of Marrakech, surrounded by lush grounds which are a stone’s throw from the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Les Jardins de Koutoubia.
The fair is an electric mix of pattern and colour, with top galleries from all over the world exhibiting African artists.
A highlight was Primo Marella Gallery from Italy showing Abdoulaye Konate’s textile based installations. The artist is from Mali and uses woven dyes and cloths which are native to his hometown. His works are large scale and abstract. Konaté refers to the West-African tradition of using textiles as a means of commemoration and communication, balancing global political and social reflections with a reference to his own local and cultural history. I was inspired by his mix of colours and can imagine one of these pieces standing pride of place in a Firmdale hotel.
Another stand out exhibitor was Loft Art Gallery based in Morocco, showing an artist called Joana Choumali. Choumali was born and raised in Abidjan and later moved to Casablanca to study graphic arts. Her style includes conceptual portraiture, mixed media and documentary. Combining embroidery with photography is so unusual. I was captivated by the finished results.
Vigo Gallery from London was showing some colourful pieces by Hassan Hajjaj. Born in Larache, Morocco, Hassan Hajjaj moved to London, turning to photography in the late eighties. He is a master portraitist, taking studio portraits of friends, musicians, and artists. Hajjaj recycles household objects from North Africa such as matchboxes, cans, crates (you name it) to create frames, chairs and lamps.
I find his work particularly inspiring in his celebration of women, showcasing strong individuals in his photography.
1 – 54 Contemporary African Art Fair was a remarkable showcase of these eclectic and talented artists. We are already looking forward to the next instalment!
Find out more on 1-54.com