In association with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair returns to Somerset House in the first week of October for its sixth consecutive London edition. This year 1-54 brings together 43 specialised galleries from 21 different countries, 11 of which will be participating for the first time, amongst them Galerie Nathalie Obadia, ADN Galeria, Burning in Water and Yossi Milo Gallery.
As part of 1-54’s programme, the fair will showcase an exciting selection of Special Projects presented in collaboration with Somerset House, local and international galleries and no-profit organisations. For this edition of the fair, 1-54 has invited Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi to develop a site-specific sculptural installation, titled Meditation Tree, for the courtyard of Somerset House. Carved in different materials such as oak, lime wood and bronze, Meditation Tree is inspired by the characteristics of a peculiar type of Acacia tree growing by the banks of the Nile: the Haraz tree, indigenous to Sudan, with unique and inspirational characteristics. Somerset House will also host the first UK solo exhibition by South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga, a collateral show running alongside 1-54. Of Gods, Rainbows and Omissions brings together three bodies of work, presenting a surreal and mythical utopia filled with vibrant characters. This free exhibition runs until 7 January 2019.
1-54 FORUM, the fair’s educational talks programme, returns in parallel to the fair with daily sessions curated by writer and curator Ekow Eshun. The programme, encompassed under the title of Freefall, will include panel talks, screenings and performances with artists, international curators and cultural producers, aiming to offer a stimulating week of critical exchange on contemporary African art.
Over the past six years, 1-54 has established itself as one of the leading voices in the global discussion on contemporary African art, providing a dynamic platform for artists and galleries from Africa. Every year the fair continues to grow, striving to expand its reach, whilst also giving African artists and galleries the international exposure that 1-54 Founding Director, Touria El Glaoui, is so passionate to foster.
Here is a selection of some of the new artists to look out for
at this year’s exhibition:
Represented by Loft Art Gallery : Born 1968 in Marrakech, Morocco : Lives and works between Paris, France and Casablanca, Morocco
Hicham Benohoud’s practice is rooted in Moroccan culture and societal structures, exploring notions of individual and collective identity. Benohoud began his artistic journey with self-portrait photography, a medium he continues to extol, expanding his current practice to incorporate mixed and new media. Humor, surrealism, performativity and self-deprecation staged in unexpected modes, are recurring elements in his work.
Represented by Gallery Nosco : Born 1984 in Kuwait City, Kuwait : Lives and works between Cairo, Egypt and New York, USA
Working with both traditional and non-traditional media, he has developed a personal aesthetic that represents his journey as artist and migrant. His multidisciplinary works challenge the political lines that define borders and the so-called authenticity of ‘national identity’.
Represented by Tyburn Gallery : Born 1991 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa : Lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa
Sethembile Msezane maps out how the process of commemorative practice informs constructions of history, mythmaking, and ultimately addresses the paucity of the black female body in the monumentalisation of public spaces. Using performance, photography, film and installation, she creates immersive works heavy with historical and political symbolism.
Represented by ADN Galeria and Officine dell’Immagine : Born 1970 in Tangier, Morocco : Lives and works between Paris, Lille, France and Tangier, Morocco
Mounir Fatmi’s work deals with the desecration of religious objects, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies. He questions the world and plays with its codes and precepts under the prism of architecture, language and the machine. His videos, installations, drawings, paintings and sculptures bring to light our doubts, fears and desires.
Represented by SMAC : Born 1983 in Benoni, South Africa : Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa
Mongezi Ncaphayi creates gestural works on paper by combining traditional printmaking techniques with painting and drawing methods. Following the completion of a Diploma in Art and Design at the Ekurhuleni East College, Benoni and a printmaking course at the Artist Proof Studio, Johannesburg, Ncaphayi obtained a Certificate in Advanced Studies from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Represented by Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) : Born 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya : Lives and works in Paris, France
Mbugua’s art is a creative medley of colour and print detail captured in portraiture. His bold use of colour and dot metaphors conveys a way of using art as a link to communicate and to unite people. His prints overlap narratives through the use of bright, energetic backgrounds and playful subjects.
Represented by VOICE gallery : Born 1975 in Akka, Morocco : Lives and works in Marrakech, Morocco
In his most recent works, he focuses on the history of the black Berbers in southern Morocco. By shedding light on this community’s practices, Bouhchichi symbolically unsettles the established divisions of space and labour in Morocco. He develops his work through a tentative language grounded on the exploration of the limits between inner thoughts and their vocalisation.
Represented by Tiwani Contemporary : Born 1976 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria : Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York
Zina Saro-Wiwa is an artist working in video, photography and installation. She explores the relationship between self and environment as well as the relationship between emotion and performance. This interest has given rise to work examining catharsis, grieving, praying and mourning rituals as well as highly personal explorations of cultural notions of love.
Represented by Burning in Water : Born 1935 in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa : Lives and works in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Mahlangu’s work draws from the objects of everyday life to form intricate systems of symbols and geometries of block colour. Arising from traditional artistries passed down through generations, her paintings, adorning various commodities from cars, to a pair of high-heeled shoes, evidence an archetypal reference of an artist pushing beyond the traditionalised image of the ‘mural’.
Represented by Selma Feriani Gallery : Born 1958 in Tunis, Tunisia : Lives and works in Tunis, Tunisia
Jellel Gasteli documents French-Tunisian culture through photography. In an on-going quest for impressions and encounters, he captures moments throughout his worldly travels, collecting tableaux of intimacy, landscapes, and cultural terrains.
Represented by WHATIFTHEWORLD : Born 1980 in Cape Town, South Africa : Lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa
Thania Petersen uses photographic self-portraiture, multi-sensory performance and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of identity in contemporary South Africa. As a direct descendant of Tuan Guru (an Indonesian Prince brought to South Africa by the Dutch as a political exile), Petersen explores personal and historical identities by reconstructing herself in various guises, informed by her position as a Malay woman and experiences of growing up as a girl in a Muslim society.
Represented by Officine Dell’Immagine : Born 1993 in Kimberley, South Africa : Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa
Through her work Bronwyn Katz engages with land as a repository of memory, motivated by the capacity of the landscape to remember and communicate its past. These memories of construction and destruction feed into the physicality of her multi-form work. Despite her young age, she was one of the protagonists of the Dak’Art Biennale 2016, and exhibited both in 2014 and in 2015 at the Pretoria Art Museum.
Represented by Retro Africa : Born 1972 in Enugu, Nigeria : Lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria
Uche Okpe-Iroha’s Under Bridge Life series takes a unique look at the complex urban life in Lagos and represents the divide or gap in its spatial order. In this society, the lowly navigate through the socio-economic process of life appropriating what they need, leaving traces behind and charting out new paths for themselves, creating systems of trade, meeting points and places of business.