This year’s edition hosts 62 international exhibitors from over 30 countries, the fair’s largest edition to date. Of the 62 international exhibitors, 14 galleries will participate in the fair’s London edition for the first time.
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will return to Somerset House for its eleventh edition from 12-15 October 2023 (Press & VIP Preview on 12 October). This year’s edition hosts 62 international exhibitors from over 30 countries, the fair’s largest edition to date. Of the 62 international exhibitors, 14 galleries will participate in the fair’s London edition for the first time. Newcomers include Affinity Gallery (Lagos, Nigeria), Efie Gallery (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), Asfalto (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Krystel Ann Art (Lisbon, Portugal), Hannah Traore Gallery (New York, USA), and The African Art Hub (London, UK), among others.
New and returning exhibitors will present over 170 artists working across an array of mediums from painting and sculpture to mixed media and installation. Works from established artists such as Joana Choumali, Ibrahim El Salahi and Soly Cissé to young and emerging artists including Josué Comoe, Anya Paintsil and Edozie Anedu will be on view.
Specially commissioned for the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House, the Moroccan artist Amine El Gotaibi presents his most ambitious work to date: “Illuminate the Light” in collaboration with MCC Gallery in Marrakech, Morocco. The artist presents twelve individual geometric sculptures inspired by the seeds of a pomegranate that vary widely in shape and colour, to represent the diversity and abundance of the African continent. Wielding light as a solid medium within the sculptures, El Gotaibi also uses light as a metaphor to foster positive stories of Africa to counter the West’s frequent stereotypes of the “dark continent.” At dusk, the sculptures transform into luminous installations, underscoring the artist’s philosophy that “out of darkness, light emerges”.
SMO Contemporary Art
Ayoola Gbolahan, Come Along with Me, 2023. Mixed media on canvas, 122 x 122cm. Courtesy of the artist and SMO Contemporary Art.
SMO Contemporary Art is an international art platform based in Lagos, Nigeria, dedicated to showcasing a unique portfolio of modern and contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora to a global audience. SMO curates exhibitions and art events for a diverse audience, and manages private and public art collections.
For more information, please visit SMO Contemporary Art.
The African Art Hub (TAAH)
Ibrahim Bamidele, In My Mother’s Apparel, 2020. Fabric and acrylic on canvas, 106 x 91cm. Courtesy of TAAH.
Established in November 2021, The African Art Hub (TAAH) is a UK-based art platform and agency with a mission to promote contemporary African art and leave an indelible impression on the international art scene. TAAH is dedicated to advocating for African artists and providing them with global exposure through collaborations with galleries and participation in prestigious art fairs. Their aim is to showcase exceptional works by artists from Africa and the diaspora, celebrating the transformative power of African art and embracing diverse narratives that merge tradition and innovation.
For more informaiton, please visit The African Art Hub.
April Kamunde, Sometimes This Is How We Therapy 1, 2023. Oil on canvas, 92 x 81cm. Courtesy of Afriart Gallery.
Founded in Kampala, Uganda in 2002, Afriart Gallery (AAG) has evolved into a leading international contemporary art gallery representing artists living and working on the African continent. The gallery focuses on original forms of expression and dialogue with the public. It provides an environment where collectors can find powerful contemporary artistic ideas and discussions.
For more information, please visit Afriart Gallery.
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Wendimagegn Belete, Between Matter and Memory 4, 2023. Acrylic, pastel, oil stick, silk screen print on canvas, 130 x 130cm. Courtesy of the artist & Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery.
Established in 2012, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery has fast gained a reputation for exhibiting a diverse roster of innovative, international artists, both emerging and established, with strong theoretical and aesthetic bases. Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery has locations in London, Berlin, Nevlunghavn, Schloss Görne and West Palm Beach.
For more information, please visit Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery.
Josué Comoe, Cosmogonie, 2023. Ink oil and acrylic on canvas, 190 x 130cm. Courtesy of (S)ITOR.
Sitor Senghor created (S)ITOR in 2014 as a platform for international contemporary art. A long-time collector and art advisor, Senghor nurtures his coups de coeur through dedicated events. (S)ITOR champions artists with the aim of sharing their work with international audiences. Drawing on his relationships to art and design, and a family tradition of cross-cultural exploration, Senghor strives to nurture a diverse range of artistic practices from around the world. (S)ITOR promotes artists from Africa and the Diaspora, with a specific focus on narrating the history of the continent through drawing, sculpture, painting and photography.
For more information, please visit (S)ITOR.
Krystel Ann Art
Giana de Dier, Conversaciones 2. Collage on paper, 50 x 50cm. Courtesy of Krystel Ann Art.
Located in Lisbon, Portugal, Krystel Ann Art is one of the few contemporary art galleries that focuses on the representation of African Diasporic Contemporary Art in the city. The art gallery and agency was founded in 2016 by two art collectors from Guadeloupe, Olivier Tharsis and Chrystelle Merabli. They represent artists that are based in Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean.
For more information, please visit Krystel Ann Art.
Nubuke Foundation (Special Project)
Courtesy of Nubuke Foundation.
Afroscope, Alice Raymond and Kwaku Opoku presented works born from their collaborations with women’s textile weaving collectives and Nubuke Foundation’s Centre for Textile and Clay in Wa, Ghana. The Foundation invited artists and creatives to create projects that positively impact the livelihoods of women textile weavers in Wa, Nandowli and Nandom.
The works presented reinterpreted centuries-old indigenous knowledge systems, using digital technology to connect woven strips to music, translate and re-present climatic information through colour and motifs, and innovate and engage with the visually impaired and deaf community in Wa.
Visitors to the Nubuke Foundation’s site in Wa are invited to examine how they traditionally perceive and engage with textiles and art. They can interact with hand-woven strip communities through a live digital platform, as well as appreciate the skill and craftsmanship employed by the blind to produce furniture.
Nubuke Foundation Centre Textiles and Clay runs an annual Festival, called Woori, and a residency programme.
For more information, please visit Nubuke Foundation.
artHARARE (Special Project)
Franklyn Dzingai, Studio Portrait (Ruvarashe), 2023. Mixed-media on canvas, 74.5 x 111cm. Courtesy of artHARARE.
artHARARE is the preeminent platform to experience contemporary art from Zimbabwe. Established in 2020, it is dedicated to promoting and supporting the development of contemporary art practice in Zimbabwe and its diaspora.
artHARARE places itself in the landscape of institutions and platforms founded by artists with the desire to help grow the African art scene and make it accessible to wider audiences. They hold a strong belief in supporting the groundbreaking work produced by the next generation of artists from Zimbabwe, and providing a dynamic pathway through which their works can be presented and celebrated globally.
artHarare’s presentation at 1-54 London included a selection of artworks by leading Zimbabwean emerging visual artists, Franklyn Dzingai, Wilfred Timire, Tafadzwa Tega, Option Dzikamai Nyahunzvi, Prudence Chimutuwah, Mostaff Muchawaya, Linnet Rubaya, whose works span various media including mixed media, prints, works on canvas and paintings. Represented in this special project was a generation of contemporary visual artists who speak most vocally and accurately about their nation, its people, as well as their dreams, challenges, hopes and morals, through their artworks.
For more information, please visit artHARARE.
Amine El Gotaibi ‘Illuminate the Light’ (Special Project)
Amine El Gotaibi, Illuminate the Light. Installation of 12 Corten-steel sculptures in the Somerset House Courtyard. Digital-rendering by Mouad Laalou. Courtesy of the artist & MCC Gallery.
For Amine El Gotaibi, light is directly extracted from the African continent. Africa “is” light. His travelling project “Visit to Okavango” that he has been conducting since 2011, from his native Morocco to the borders of South Africa, aims precisely to “trace a luminous path in Africa”.
Specially commissioned for the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court, the artist presented ‘Illuminate the Light’ in collaboration with MCC Gallery (Marrakech, Morocco). This monumental installation consisted of 12 corten geometric sculptures inspired by the seeds of a pomegranate that vary in shape, to represent the diversity of the African continent. At dusk, the sculptures transformed into luminous installations. Wielding light as a solid medium, El Gotaibi sees light as a metaphor to reverse the relationship between source and destination. Through light, the artist aims to encourage viewers to question the hierarchy of substances and their perspective, reinforcing his core philosophy that ‘out of darkness, light emerges’.
For more information, please visit MCC gallery.
LOOTY عودة راشد Return Rashid!, 2023, XR/AR 3D installation (Special Project)
Courtesy of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair London.
With renowned professor and archaeologist Monica Hanna, LOOTY executed a daring “Digital Heist” at the British Museum, utilising cutting-edge LiDAR technology to record detailed scans of the Rosetta Stone (Hajar Rashid). These scans were then transported, both physically and digitally, to the town of Rashid, where the Rosetta Stone was originally taken, using Geo-located AR. One of the first digitally repatriated artworks was returned to its physical location.
Our reconstruction of the stela, of which the Rosetta Stone was once a part, serves as a reimagination of the past and augmentation of the future. Through art and tech, we aim to change the narrative of how we view art and who gets to experience it.
Beyond art restoration; it delves deep into the philosophical question of globalised art access. In an increasingly interconnected world, not everybody has the privilege to view their own cultural heritage. This disparity has long persisted, especially for those from countries where artworks were taken.
For more information, please visit 1-54.