October is always an exhilarating month for art lovers in London. Exhibitions featuring African artists can be seen at Tate Modern Museum, National Portrait Gallery and the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park. This year, one of the most exciting events to check out was the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair that took place at Somerset House, London. In its sixth year, the exhibition brought together a diverse group of contemporary African artists living on the continent and in the diaspora. Somerset House with its winding staircases and never-ending rooms, was an excellent venue to capture the ingenuity of young artists, whose works ranged from the whimsical to the matter-fact, all the while aiming to conceptualize the idea of free-fall. Senegalese artist Omar Ba had a great showing with his portraits of regal men. The artist noted that he likes to explore representations of power, prestige, and memory. Nelson Makamo’s charcoal and acrylic painting, “Her Favorite Colour, 2018” was equally impressive.The artist’s portraits of children manages to capture the playfulness, individuality, and agency of youth. It is also evident that the colorful spectacles worn by the children speaks to their ability to see and shape a vision of the world that is wholly their own. Lastly, one of the works that left a great impression on me was the above shown painting by Ian Mwesiga titled, “Adam and Eve in Genesis.” These works reimagined the biblical themes of displacement, vulnerability and isolation within a rural American landscape. At a time when we’re discussing issues of migration and dislocation, Mwesiga’s work manages to show the disorienting aspects of that conversation within a modern context. The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is usually held in early October. This exhibition took place October 4-7, 2018.
Oct 15, 2018