For the Love of Art

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“…original, vibrant and sometimes audacious creative scene, ” TLMag’s Lara Chapman

This time of year thousands of art lovers head to leading and not so known art shows on 3 continents. ART X Lagos, acclaimed as “West Africa’s premier international art fair, designed to showcase the best and most innovative contemporary art from the African continent and its Diaspora…” closed November 4th after welcoming over 15,000 visitors chomping at the bit to view the work of Africa’s emerging and established artists. Since 2016, ART X Lagos has evolved into a major social event in Lagos attracting artists, international collectors, curators, and critics. According to founder Ms. Tokini Peterside, ART X Lagos is an “exciting program of specially curated projects, talks and live events, to its broad audience of collectors, connoisseurs, cultural practitioners and art lovers…”,
Amongst the incredibly diverse display of talent, Ivorian Aboudia and Nigerian Angela Amami Isiuwe have held my attention. Aboudia gained international acclaim after his creative chronicles of the civil war in Abidjan, 2011. According to ART X Lagos, “…multi-layered, mixed-media paintings of Abidjan street scenes featuring child-like figures rendered in a style that draws from the aesthetics of graffiti and traditional African carvings… captures his subjects’ innocence as well as something much darker and chaotic. Aboudia says the laughter and tears of these children remain his driving force. He set up the equity-based Aboudia Foundation, promising an ambitious programme of activities geared towards the social reintegration of the foundation’s beneficiaries.”
Angela Amami Isiuwe, on the other hand, is a minimalist painter whose continuous homage to the quintessential female figure and form is realized in mostly watercolour, oil and acrylic paints. According to ART X Lagos, “Angela interprets her subjects in swift, essential, concise lines and forms that create three-dimensionality with balance and depth.”
Over in France, AKAA – Also Known As Africa, is said to be the only art fair in France exclusively for Contemporary Art and Design, which is African centered. From November 9-11th AKAA will set up in the Carreau du Temple, presenting “…original, vibrant and sometimes audacious creative scene, ” according to TLMag’s Lara Chapman. She goes on to say this young three-year old fair is evidence of the global interest in art and design that is related to Africa which is multi-faceted and diverse. Victoria Mann, founder of AKAA says, “ Our first and foremost criteria are that the artists or curatorial projects have a link to Africa. It could be through nationality, place of work, travel or through collaboration, dialogue or interest. We just want that link to Africa to be present. We are a fair that is very open to young galleries who don’t have the traditional format of a gallery, for example, internet galleries or galleries that don’t have a physical space.”
Across the water in Brooklyn, New York, ‘SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER’ at the Brooklyn Museum (BM) gives voice to 60 artists in this critical visual narrative on the reality of racism in America. “And no artists have responded to that history-that-won’t-go-away more powerfully than black artists have. (They) appear in this big, beautiful, passionate show of art that functioned as seismic detector, political persuader and defensive weapon,” says Ashley James, Assistant Curator BM. Also on board are the Tate Modern and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, amongst others with curators at the helm Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern who participated in Olabisi Silva’s Asiko Curatorial Initiative held in Addis Ababa in 2016.
For those who like to combine their art with sun and sea, the 17th Miami Art Basel is the place to be with all eyes hungry for the plethora of paintings, sculptures, installations and more all over Miami. But what also attracts the world to Basel are all the shows which take place in the surrounding area such as the Miami The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) 5th Annual GMCVB Art of Black Miami initiatives. After years of Basel catering to white artists and collectors alike, Art of Black was a response to the need to showcase the arts, culture and diversity in Miami and the Beaches. I curated a pop up group show for the Art of Black called Tizita in 2015 with works from Desta Hagos, Merid Tafesse, Daniel Taye, Birhan Tonge, Ermias Mazengia and Mathias Lulu. According to GMCVB President & CEO, William D. Talbert, III, “Art of Black Miami is a marketing platform and destination driver that showcases the diversity of the visual arts locally, nationally and internationally, celebrating the black diaspora. The GMCVB is committed to the Art of Black Miami marketing platform because it promotes the creative influences of the African Diaspora, Caribbean influences, Latin Americans and global artists who contribute to the fabric of Miami’s diverse artistic community.” Finally, As Addis Ababa gears up for Addis Foto Fest in December, we can also be counted amongst the cities attracting local and international tourists alike for the love of art.

Dr. Desta Meghoo is a Jamaican born
Creative Consultant, Curator and
cultural promoter based in Ethiopia
since 2005. She also serves as Liaison to
the AU for the Ghana based, Diaspora
African Forum.