Contemporary art throughout Africa continues to flourish and 2019 is looking more exciting than ever. Thursday 14th February sees the start of The Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) - the largest travelling African Diasporic art show in the United States. Investec Cape Town Art Fair kicks off this coming Friday and showcases the most important galleries from across the continent, including Goodman Gallery, Addis Fine Art, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Omenka Gallery, First Floor Gallery Harare... We are particularly intrigued by This Is Not a White Cube in Angola’s capital city, Luanda, which promotes local artists and is working hard to be present at this year’s international fairs…Read More
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Everyone is talking about it. Art critics and enthusiasts, visitors to Cape Town, taxi drivers… At the airport I was stopped by a local Capetonian, who recognising my gift bag from their pop up shop, enthused that he’d now visited four times in total since the opening in September. It’s been hailed as “Africa’s Tate Modern”, a “museum for social change” and the continent’s “most important museum opening in a century”. Never more fitting is the saying “your reputation precedes you” given the volume of press coverage on the opening of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (Zeitz MOCAA).
The museum has sparked its fair share of controversy, from who founded it, to where it’s located, the artists it represents, the comparison to Western art institutions, and the name itself after founder Jochen Zeitz – former CEO of Puma. But isn’t that the point? To create a focus, a subject for debate, something which shifts perceptions and generates interest from the outside world.
We loved it. In fact, we’d visit Cape Town again in a heartbeat just to spend longer exploring the converted 1920s grain silo designed by Thomas Heatherwick and now the largest collection of contemporary African art. The building’s redesign is a masterpiece of epic proportions. Once used to store maize, its existing concrete tubes were converted into spaces to display art. There are five floors of gallery spaces and a cavernous atrium which allows a flood of light through the building.
The art is electrifying. All the more so given where in the world we are. Spaces are filled with some of the great artists of today’s Africa, including Cyrus Kabiru, El Anatsui, Ghada Amer, Jeremiah Quarshie, Kudzanai Chiurai, Mohau Modisakeng, Zanele Muholi, Ndijeka Akunyili Crosby and Nandipha Mntambo, to name a few. Wangechi Mutu’s film is particularly compelling as well as the animated film by William Kentridge set in the exploited industrial and mining landscapes around Johannesburg. For us, it is a monumental celebration of contemporary African art. It stands tall, both physically and in the magnitude of its achievement as one of the greatest museums, not just in Africa but the world.
An interest in contemporary African art has been on the incline for the last 10 years or so but never has it experienced such dynamic momentum as is currently underway. Last year saw the first edition of ART X Lagos, a new art fair designed to greater connect Nigeria to the contemporary art scene both internationally and across Africa. Biennales like those in Casablanca, Marrakech, Dakar, Kampala, and Bamako are gaining more recognition. For the first time ever, Nigeria had its own pavilion at this year's 57th Venice Biennale, represented by Victor Ehikhamenor, Peju Alatise and Qudus Onikeku...Read More