Is African art London’s next big thing? Frieze London 2013 and 1:54 – fair round up

Africa’s contemporary art gains strength in London, notably at Frieze London 2013 and 1:54, the first contemporary African art fair.

African art is gaining ground in the West as evidenced by the participation of two African galleries in this year’s London’s Frieze art fair and the inauguration of the first contemporary African art fair, 1:54, at Somerset House.

Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

Frieze London 2013, the international contemporary art fair, took place in London’s Regent’s Park from 17–20 October 2013. Sponsored by Deutsche Bank for the tenth consecutive year, the 11th edition of the art fair consisted of 152 contemporary art galleries, two hailing from from Africa, which is double the number of participating African galleries from last year.

1:54, a much smaller fair with only 17 participating galleries, is the first contemporary African Art Fair founded by market developer Touria El Glaoui and was held at Somerset House from 16-20 October 2013. Designed by architect David Adjaye, participating galleries included Jack Bell Gallery, ARTLabAfrica, and Galleria Continua.

Yinka Shonibare's sculpture at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

Yinka Shonibare’s sculpture at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

African art makes an impression at Frieze 

The Frieze Art Fair, founded in 2003 by Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, takes place in both London and New York. For the recently closed London fair, art from Africa made a big impression. Not only did two galleries from South Africa participate in the fair, but other galleries such as Herald St. and Entwistle exhibited art from Africa.

Herald St. London at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

Herald St. London at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

Frieze Figures

Frieze is famously mum when it comes to sales figures, and galleries are equally as mysterious about actual numbers, but a few sales figures were well publicised.

According to an article in the Financial Times, the mood for sales at Frieze was somewhat muted for contemporary art, while sales were stronger for the Frieze Masters, which features historical works. Art adviser Lisa Schiff surmised that “fair fatigue” set in, as both the market and collectors were overwhelmed by the glut of fairs: Frieze, FIAC in Paris, Art Basel and TEFAF Maastricht.

The Independent reported that at Frieze London, gallery Thaddaeus Ropac sold a Georg Baselitz sculpture for USD 1.8 million, and David Zwirner gallery sold a large painting by British artist Chris Ofili at USD 500,000.

Although figures regarding contemporary art were sparse, Frieze Masters proved the market for Masters work is strong, as reiterated in The Guardian. A painting by Brueghel titled The Census at Bethlehem sold for GBP 6 million (USD 9.7 million).

Entwistle, London at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Joe Clark. Image courtesy Frieze.

Entwistle, London at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Joe Clark. Image courtesy Frieze.

African art is trendy

An article in the Miami Herald points out the trend for African art in London is growing, as evidenced by Bonhams auction house sales of African art in 2013 totalling more than GBP 1 million (USD 1.6 million) , the Tate Modern’s recent African acquisitions committee and  four London galleries featuring African art: October Gallery; the Jack Bell Gallery; the Tiwani Contemporary; and GAFRA.

The Miami Herald report also quotes Neil Dundas from South Africa’s Goodman Gallery (which participated in Frieze London) as saying that people are discovering that African art is not only “wooden masks, carved statues, and tribal talismans”.

African galleries at Frieze

Two galleries from Africa participated in Frieze London: Goodman Gallery and Stevenson.

Goodman Gallery, located in Cape Town, South Africa, represents artists such as Alfredo Jaar, Candice Breitz, David Goldblatt, Ghada Amer, Kendell Geers, Sam Nhlengethwa and William Kentridge.

Stevenson Gallery at Frieze Art Fair 2013. Photo by Linda Nyland. Image courtesy Frieze.

Contemporary art gallery Stevenson, based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, was established in 2003 by Michael Stevenson, and then partnered with David Brodie in Johannesburg in 2008. The gallery focuses on art from South Africa, Africa and its diaspora.

Stevenson won acclaim from the blogosphere for its strong showing of African artists at Frieze London: Meschac Gaba, Robin Rhode, Viviane Sassen and Nicholas Hlobo. Meschac Gaba received praise for his installation Le Monde en Miniature et la Mode en Miniature, made up of children’s clothing inscribed with words such as “violence” and “zenophobie“, infering “the role of children in societies as well as cultural and political exchange, value and the role of the child within global economies.”

Participating Artists of 1:54 African Art Fair 2013

Aboudia (Ivory Coast)
Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou (Benin)
Karo Akpokiere (Nigeria)
Sammy Baloji (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Frederic Bruly Bouabre (Ivory Coast)
Nathalie Boutté (France)
Richard Butler-Bowdon (South Africa)
Edson Chagas (Angola)
Virginia Chihota (Zimbabwe)
Soly Cissé (Senegal)
Nestor Da (Ivory Coast)
Harandane Dicko (Mali)
Saïdou Dicko (Burkina Faso)
Amahiguere Dolo (Mali)
Godfried Donkor (Ghana)
Sokari Douglas-Camp (Nigeria)
Mohamed-El Baz (Morocco)
Meschac Gaba (Benin)
Francois Xavier-Gbre (Ivory Coast)
Ablade Glover (Ghana)
Maimouna Guerresi (Senegal)
Placido Guimaraes (Equatorial Guinea)
Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco)
Romuald Hazoume (Benin)
Uche James-Iroha (Nigeria)
Seydou Keïta (Mali)
Rachid Koraichi (Algeria)
Adama Kouyate (Mali)
Miriam Syowia Kyambi (Kenya)
George Lilanga (Tanzania)
El Loko (Togo)
Zemba Luzamba (South Africa)
Goncalo Mabunda (Mozambique)
Esther Mahlangu (South Africa)
Hamidou Maiga (Mali)
Ernest Mancoba (South Africa)
Abu-bakarr Mansaray (Sierra Leone)
Frank Marshall (South Africa)
Amina Menia (Algeria)
Vincent Michéa (Senegal)
Moke (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Fabrice Monteiro (Senegal)
Jean-Claude Moschetti (Benin)
Baudouin Mouanda (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Richard Mudariki (Zimbabwe)
Wycliffe Mundopa (Zimbabwe)
James Muriuki (Kenya)
Terrence Musekiwa (Zimbabwe)
Cheikh Ndiaye (Senegal)
Moataz Nasr (Egypt)
Karel Nel (South Africa)
Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude (Zimbabwe)
Boris Nzebo (Gabon, Cameroon)
J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria)
Nnenna Okore (Nigeria)
Zak Ové (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)
Owusu Ankomah (Ghana)
Gerard Quenum (Benin)
Younès Rahmoun (Morocco)
Virginia Ryan (Côte d’Ivoire)
Chéri Samba (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Manuela Sambo (Angola)
Kura Shomali (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Malick Sidibe (Mali)
Paul Sika (Ivory Coast)
Julien Sinzogan (Benin)
Gor Soudan (Kenya)
Ransome Stanley (Germany)
Moffat Takadiwa (Zimbabwe)
Mavis Tauzeni (Zimbabwe)
Cyprien Tokoudagba (Benin)
Billie Zangewa (South Africa)
Dominique Zinkpè (Benin)

Susan Kendzulak

Related Topics: art funding, banks collecting art, art fairs, African art

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