The Africa Report:
African art was a highly popular subject of discussion in 2013, with the international art community racing to get in on the action.
In London alone there were three groundbreaking happenings: the inaugural 1-54 contemporary African art fair and the Meschac Gaba and Ibrahim El-Salahi exhibitions at the Tate Modern.
Mouhamadou Sow with Boys Playing in the Surf. Photo©mouhamadou sow
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum will house an Africa-specific exhibition in 2014.
The creation of the 1-54 art fair to run parallel to London’s Frieze festival in October 2013 sparked debate as to whether African art ought to be promoted as a separate category or to continue fighting to break into the mainstream.
While the Angola pavilion’s win at the Venice Biennale marked a step towards African art striding into the mainstream, African art was notably lacking at Paris’s Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain.
Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery was the only African gallery out of the 187 represented at the fair.
Across Europe, galleries have been shown renewed interest in African art.
In New York, plans for the New Africa Center, with support from telecoms investor Mo Ibrahim, were unveiled at a star-studded event in September.
In November, Kenya hosted the first ever commercial auction of East African art in which more than $200,000 worth of work was sold.
African photography is also attracting attention.
In 2014, the FNB Joburg Art Fair, Addis Foto Fest and Rencontres de Bamako will showcase the most talented photographers on the continent.
The Rencontres de Bamako, in November, will demonstrate that Mali is back on the path of recovery.
The 5th Marrakech Biennale, in February-March 2014, has adopted the theme ‘Where are we now?,’ marking a time for reflection.
Debates in the African art world in 2013 focused on the fact that Africa’s art patrons are predominantly white, non-African or have made their money in natural resources.
At the same time, a new generation of young African collectors is emerging.
Koyo Kouoh – Exhibition organiser
“I am looking forward to an exhibition, The Divine Comedy, at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, and Issa Samb’s upcoming solo exhibition in London at InIVA. As for Rencontres de Bamako, it is really important that this event has been reinstated on the cultural calendar. There is an interesting trio of young African curators working on the Dakar Biennale in 2014. As the only one of its kind south of the Sahara, it is a great honour that the Senegalese government is supporting and promoting it. The 1-54 contemporary African art fair is in London again in 2014. People are definitely more interested in African art than they’ve ever been: international institutions are looking to exhibit African artists, and private collectors are on the lookout for new initiatives. The continent is huge and every scene has its own trends.”