One of the Sudan’s greatest cultural ambassadors, the majestic Ibrahim El-Salahi, is also one of the continent’s greatest contemporary artists, as Beverly Andrews discovered at a recent one-man show.
Founded in 2011, the international organisation Beyond Entropy does not recognise a distinction between art, architecture and politics. Since the civil war ended in 2002, the oil-rich economy of Angola has become the fastest growing in Africa. The Lusophone nation’s influx of wealth has given way to serious urban redevelopment and infrastructural transformation, centered on its capital, Luanda. Acknowledging this, Beyond Entropy put forward a rigorous argument to encourage economic support to invest in creating a cultural point of view, impacting the reconstruction of Angola’s national identity. The product of this was “BE Angola”, a grassroots initiative that would take up the challenge of developing the inaugural participations of Angolan art and architectural pavilions at the Venice Biennale
In 2010, the businessman, philanthropist and art collector Robert Devereux sold £4m of his prestigious post-war art collection, in order to build the African Arts Trust. Three years on, the trust has funded ambitious projects and bold new artists; from Baudouin Mouanda’s residency at Gasworks Gallery in London, to Nancy Mteki’s residency at Deveron Arts, to supporting Kampala’s first contemporary art festival (KLA ART). Basia Lewandowska Cummings spoke with one of contemporary African art’s biggest supporters about his motivations, and what he feels the future might hold for the networks and institutions he is doing so much to support.
A Benin artist, Gérard Quenum, has brought a whole new meaning to old, torn, and discarded dolls. He makes them live again. “I love the dolls,” he says. “I don’t make them just in order to sell them. I create them because this is something that comes from within me.” Juliet Highet went to see a recent exhibition of Quenum’s work in London.
The Niger River’s principal tributary is the Benue River, itself a major waterway that runs from east to west across Nigeria’s Middle-Belt. It is the cultures of the people of this region that are celebrated in a special travelling exhibition. Stephen Williams reports from Paris.
The publication of Chinua Achebe’s latest book, There Was A Country, more than half a century after his famous first novel, Things Fall Apart, is a red-letter day in terms of African literature. Baba Chenzira reports.
Shona sculpture (from Zimbabwe) is perhaps the most important art form to emerge from Africa for 100 years. It is sculpture of world quality, extracting the individual spirit of the stone. A recent exhibition of Shona sculpture in London enthralled visitors.
It takes real bravado to impersonate an ex-military general who has ruled Uganda for 26 years. But Herbert Ssegujja, a secondary school teacher and part-time comedian, has perfected the mimicking of President Yoweri Museveni into an art form, sending audiences into fits of laughter. And Uganda’s president is one of his biggest fans, reports Bamuturaki Musinguzi from Kampala.
The international auction house, Bonhams, has been holding sales of contemporary African art in the past few months, two in London, and another in New York. Nevertheless, in market terms there has been a steady growth year on year, and interestingly, a lot of new collectors, younger than usual, as well as more geographically diverse, many of them African, have been buying.