Our top 6 galleries to see this weekend at Somerset House’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Magnin-A Omar Victor Diop

Fresh off back-to-back trips to South Africa and Colombia, I’m finally home in England this weekend. But the second I drop my bags at the door, I’m headed out again — this time to Somerset House, for the third London edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

In fact, I’ve already taken a gander around the fair. Although it doesn’t open until Friday, the organisers this year have teamed up with artsy.com to preview the works that will be on show. Named for the 54 countries in Africa, the fair aims to showcase the diversity of African art.

In a similar spirit, I’ve gathered the top 6 galleries I’ll be visiting straight-away — three in Africa, and three in the West.

The Botero paintings I saw (and loved) in Bogota will be far from my mind soon enough…

 

Magnin–A (Paris, France)

The highly stylised self portraits in Omar Victor Diop’s Diaspora series merge contemporary and and historic life seamlessly. His work always stops me in my tracks (images at the top of this post).

 

Art Twenty One (Lagos, Nigeria)

Art Twenty One will show a range of eye-popping, playful works — including a surprising series of consumer-inspired coffins from Ghanian coffin artists Paa Joe and Jacob Tetteh-Ashong.

Art 21 Tetteh-Ashong bros

 

Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire)

Jems Robert Koko Bi’s carved wood heads reflect the depths and difficulties of the human mind with their heavy, twisted markings.

Galerie Cecile Jems Koko Bi

Tamar Golan Gallery (Luanda, Angola)

Francisco “Van” Van-Dúnem’s acrylic (left) and Toy Boy’s oil painting (right) show Tamar Golan’s preference for raw, colourful and collage-like tableaux.

Tamar Golan Van Dunem

 

Ed Cross Fine Art (London, UK)

No matter the subject, Mozambican Mário Macila’s black and white images from his Growing in Darkness series cut to the bone. Haunting.

Ed Cross Mario Macilau

Tiwani Contemporary (London, UK)

The titles of Libya-based Zimbabwean artist Virginia Chihota’s screen prints on paper are as evocative as the works themselves: at left, “trust and obey (kuvimba nekuterera)”; at right, “i’m ready to carry myself along (ndagadzirira kuzvitakura pamwe)”.

Tiwani Virginia Chihota

 

1:54 is at Somerset House (WC2R 1LA)

  • Thu 15 Oct: 12pm – 8pm
  • Fri 16 Oct: 12pm – 8pm
  • Sat 17 Oct: 12pm – 8pm
  • Sun 18 Oct: 12pm – 6pm

Day ticket £15, four-day ticket £30

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