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African countries that are home to some of the continents’ greatest contemporary artists

contemporary artistscontemporary artists
contemporary artistscontemporary artists

 

African countries that are home to some of the continents’ greatest contemporary artists

Africa is not a stranger to the contemporary art world and the impression of African art on the world is being updated as new contemporary artists come to light. We’re going to be taking a look at the African countries that are home to some of the continents’ greatest contemporary artists and who those artists are.

If you're a traveller looking for an arts and culture experience in an African country, these are places you should consider travelling to. But when it comes to viewing these artists’ artworks, that can be done on both a national and international scale.  

 

Kenya

Kenya had its first international art fair, Art X Lagos, last year which was just the world finally catching up with the contemporary and quality art this country has to offer. African art, in general, has recently started attracting collectors’ attention and by looking at Kenyan artists, it’s not hard to see why.

Four contemporary artists from Kenya, whose work you should get to know, include:

  • Victor Peace: An award-winning, commercial and fashion photographer, who strives to promote the pride of the African people and not focus on the suffering and historical pains.
  • Thandiwe Muriu: Thandiwe is another fashion photographer who also enjoys celebrating the beauty of people and different cultures through colour, texture and tones.
  • Peterson Kamwathi: Peterson is a contemporary African artist who delves into the political and socio-economic status of both global and national governments. And the medium through which he expresses these realities and opinions is through woodcut prints and charcoal drawings.  
  • Osborne Macharia: If you don’t know this photographer’s name, you’re really missing out on the contemporary African art scene. This visual artist who chooses photography as his medium is successfully translating culturally historic references in a modern-day style. He is a self-taught commercial photographer with personal art pieces that showcase his ability to tell African stories.

 

Nigeria

It’s no secret that there’s been a growing international interest in African art at the same time the industry itself has been booming all over the continent. African artists’ stories and messages are relevant, raw and aesthetically pleasing, everything international collectors are looking for in an art collection. In Nigeria, there are a few contemporary artists who have really changed the name of the game in their country.

  • Laolu Senbanjo: “Everything is my canvas” is Laolu’s life motto for his Yoruba-culture inspired artwork. He is Nigerian born and currently based in Brooklyn, NYC and has had the opportunity to feature his Yoruba body paint in Beyoncé’s Lemonade Visual Album. Not bad for international interest.
  • El Anatsui: El is a sculptor who was born in Ghana but his artistic career began and developed in Nigeria. He attracted the global market through his “bottle-top” sculptures and use of “found materials” to create incredible installations.  
  • Babajide Olatunji: In 2014, at the young age of 24 this Nigerian hyper-realist painter managed to exhibit his work on an international level in London. And that’s not something many artists achieve easily, if at all. Since then, his artwork has seen the stages of many international galleries and has continued to produce breathtakingly real artworks.

 

South Africa

When the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art opened in September last year, Cape Town has slowly become the cultural capital of the continent. Now, that’s quite the statement, but when you get to know who some of our South African artists are, you’ll surely understand why.

  • Trevor Stuurman: Trevor is a street-style fashion photographer who enjoys capturing innovation and elegance in African fashion design.
  • Siwa Mgoboza: You haven’t experienced African textile art if you haven’t seen one of Siwa’s art installations. His masterpieces are created from traditional Hlubi Isishweshwe material and tackle the issues of identity.
  • Mary Sibande: Another contemporary artist who explores the construction of identity, but in a post-colonial South Africa, is Mary Sibande. Mary is a painter and sculptor known mostly for her “Sophie” sculptures that are crafted in her own likeness.
  • Athi-Patra Ruga: Athi-Patra is a multimedia artist who often depicts images of a utopian styled South Africa. He makes use of video, photography, textiles and performance to achieve this.

 

Other African countries’ artists

Out of the 54 countries in Africa, we’ve barely scratched the surface, but a few other countries and their contemporary artists to look out for include:

  • Ethiopia: Julie Mehretu (abstract paintings and prints).
  • Zimbabwe: Kudzanai Chiurai (multidisciplinary artist covering social, political and cultural issues).
  • Senegal: Fabrice Monteiro (photographer) and Omar Victor Diop (photographer).
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Chéri Samba (painter).

Africa’s art industry is currently thriving and it’s worth the trip to see where these artists find their inspiration. Africa is where all art and culture lovers need to be right now to experience, first hand, the contemporary art that’s currently being created.

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