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African Art in Venice Forum and Gala

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COLLECTOR. magazine issue 02
Neri Torcello, Founder and Director of African Art in Venice Forum and Gala. Image courtesy of the 'African Art in Venice Forum' and the photographers.

Neri Torcello is an international art consultant as well as the founder and director of the African Art in Venice Forum and Gala, a networking event which is held at the opening of each ‘Biennale dell’Arte di Venezia’. This event is closely connected to the increased interest in contemporary African art. It furthermore strives to become a viable platform through which artists, museums, galleries, curators and collectors in addition to politicians and social scientists can share their experiences and aid in the development of the African art scene.

Guise of Reality – Behind an Oil Painting

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Zarah Cassim. Amount of something, 2017. Oil on canvas. 430 x 430mm. Frame
ART AFRICA spoke to Zarah Cassim on her upcoming solo exhibition "Guise of reality"  at Salon91 gallery and how she uses her paintings of natural landscapes to encourage us to question the multiple layers of what we perceive as reality.


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ART AFRICA, issue 08.
GLOBAL ART FORUM 11: $HIP! being presented by Laleh Khalili. On the screen is the carved dark gravestone inscribed in Hebrew and dated 1333 AD, from the port of Aden in Yemen. Photo Brendon Bell-Roberts.
Among the holdings of the British Museum, warehoused in their massive storage among around eight million objects, is a carved dark gravestone inscribed in Hebrew and dated 1333 AD, from the port of Aden in Yemen. The inscription says, “Mayest thou rest in peace until the redeemer cometh!

Beyond Shadows and Mirrors – Understanding Locality in a Globalized Art Discourse

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ART AFRICA, issue 07. Guest Edited by Kendell Geers.
Kuba Ndop, made as a gift for the Danish mercenary. Images courtesy of Emory University Visual Resource Library. 
The original and longer version of this argument was made in an invited plenary paper for the Deutsche Gesellschaft Volkerkunde Conference on Globalisation in Göttingen, 7-10 Oct. 2001, and later published in German.1 My aim here is to revisit the same issue fifteen years later and see what has changed, and what has remained the same. Perhaps surprisingly, most of the points made then remain live issues today.

Art Is Humanity Building

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Serpentine Pavilion 2017, designed by Francis Kéré. Serpentine Gallery, London (23 June – 8 October 2017) © Kéré Architecture, Photography © 2017 Iwan Baan
If you do not have vision to see where we can go then there is no way you could believe in the possibility of a Utopia. - Kanye West 

It reads like a fairy-tale.  

Debedo Francis Kéré is born in 1965 in a poor village, located in the Cetre-Est of Burkino Faso. His face is marked with royal scars that set him apart as "the chosen one" to attend a high school in the city.

Contemporary Istanbul announces its Preliminary Exhibitors list and a week full of art in September

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Contemporary Istanbul (CI), the leading international art fair in the region, is pleased to announce the preliminary exhibitors list for the upcoming 12th edition of the fair. CI brings together leading contemporary art galleries from Turkey and around the world, giving a regional and international focus to the dynamic contemporary art scene that has developed in Istanbul in recent decades. Reflecting the role of Istanbul as a centre point between East and West, CI strongly believes – now more than ever – in the critical role of art as a catalyst for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation.

Details Announced for Unseen Amsterdam 2017 International Photography Showcase

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 Alhamdulillah We Made It 2015 © Hani.A.Musa, RUANG MES 56 Collective
Unseen has announced details of its sixth international photography showcase taking place in Amsterdam 22-24 September 2017. Building on the success of previous editions, Unseen Amsterdam will showcase the best in new photography, highlighting the most recent developments by presenting emerging talent and new work by established artists.

A LUTA CONTINUA: How the Art Takes Shape – Old Forms/New Idioms in our Fashion

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ART AFRICA, issue 07. Guest Edited by Kendell Geers.
Jelili Atiku, Kill Not This Country (MaanifesitoII), Catholic Mission Street/ Hospital Road / Broad Street, Lagos Island, Nigeria, Saturday November 31 2015. Photo: Emmanuel Sanni, Image courtesy of the artist.

The above epigraph is excerpted from the Martinican poet, politician, and co-founder of the Negritude movement Aimé Cesairé’s speech at the “Function and Significance of Art in the Life of the People and for the People” symposium in Dakar in 1966. The symposium was the opening event of the First World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal, from April 1-24, 1966...

ARAFRASIA: RAID! / The East India Company

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ART AFRICA, issue 08
GLOBAL ART FORUM 11: RAID! - The East India Company, presented by William Darymple. On the screen is the painting Shah Alam, Mughal Emperor (1759–1806), Conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, August 1765, by Benjamin West, 1818. Photo Brendon Bell-Roberts.

People still talk about the British conquering India, it wasn’t the British it was much worse, it was the world’s first multi-national corporation and these are important distinctions in the age of our friend Trump. The East India Company, imagine Walmart with nuclear submarines or Facebook with fighter jets, it was the worlds most militarised multi-national. By the peak of its power about 1800 it had a private security force that was twice the size of the British army.

COLLECTOR. magazine: Egyptian Collector, Nadim Elias, in conversation with COLLECTOR. associate Dubai Kurt Blackenberg

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COLLECTOR. magazine, issue 02

Samir Rafi, The Dog and the Fish, 1972. Images courtesy of Nadim Elias

Samir Rafi, The Dog and the Fish, 1972. Images courtesy of Nadim Elias

Chairman and CEO of the Sahara Printing Company, Nadim Elias developed his fascination with painting and sculpture after gaining exposure to Picasso, Miro, Dali and Modigliani in his youth. This fuelled his attraction to surrealism and figurative expressions as movements which grapple with questions concerning the human psyche. Elias started his collection in 1990 after purchasing a painting by Hamed Nada and has subsequently expanded his understanding of contemporary art through frequent visits to museums and galleries in Europe and Egypt.

A LUTA CONTINUA: Marche! Pour Toujours (Walk! Forever)

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ART AFRICA, issue 07
Guest Edited by Kendell Geers

Issa Samb, “The Crisis Begins Tomorrow at Dawn” (La crise commence demain à l’aube”), in Verksted no. 15, Word! Word? Word!. Issa Samb and the Undecipherable Form, ed. Koyo Kouoh, OCA Norway and Sternberg Press Berlin, 2013, pp. 224-239

This article provides a short, dense reflection on the importance of revolutionary artists, thinkers, and activists who developed their practice in the frame of a cultural spirit that ‘declared’ its objective in the form of a struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against the great powers and bi-polar bloc politics. 


ARAFRASIA: Global Art Forum – Trading Places

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ART AFRICA, issue 08

Edited by Ashraf Jamal

Farah Al Qasimi, from the GAF11 commissioned DRAGON! series, 2017

Narrow as it was, the street in any Muslim country was always very lively – a permanent meeting place for people who enjoyed open-air display. It was the essential artery, the rendezvous for story-tellers, signers, snake-charmers, mountebanks, healers, charlatans, barbers and all those professionals who are so suspect in the eyes of Islam’s moralists and canon lawyers.

Fernand Braudel – A History of Civilisations 

COLLECTOR. magazine: Jean-Paul and Christine Blachère – in conversation with Nadège Besnard Iwochewitsch

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COLLECTOR. magazine volume 01 issue 02

Nadège Besnard Iwochewitsch: Jean-Paul, how did your collection start?

Jean-Paul Blachère: I began collecting (contemporary African) art around the end of 2000. An exhibition had been organised in the North of France that was curated by Yacouba Konaté, and devoted solely to African talents. It was here that I fell in love with The Dance, a work by Moustapha Dimé that expressed so much simplicity, spirituality and strength.

Thereafter, I decided to build a collection that would show the strength and beauty, both aesthetically and sociologically, of the African continent. I visited artists’ workshops in Africa, and subsequently fell in love with the work of Amahiguéré Dolo, specifically Le Forgeron (The Blacksmith). I was equally as drawn to this sculpture as I was by the story of Dolo’s life; it is important for me to understand both the artist’s experience and his message. I believe this establishes a real bond between the three of us – a triumvirate connecting the artist, the artwork, and myself.    

Sculpture plays a large role in the collection, and through this I have developed many close relationships with artists such as Moustapha Dimé, Amahiguéré Dolo, Siriki Ky, Ndary Lo, Jems Robert Koko Bi and Freddy Tsimba.

ARAFRASIA: Edited by Ashraf Jamal

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ART AFRICA volume 02, issue 08

Edited by Ashraf Jamal

 0001AA 08 Masque cimier representant al-Buraq Guinee bois polychrome musee Barbier-Mueller Geneve

Crest Mask representing al-Buraq, Guinea. Polychromic wood and fibre, 78 x 113 cm. Image courtesy of Barbier-Mueller museum, Geneva, Inv. 1001-59. © photo studio Ferrazzini-Bouchet. On show in the exhibition 'Treasures of Islam in Africa', Arab World Institute, Paris.

A LUTA CONTINUA: The Irreducibility of Kongo Min'Kisi

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ART AFRICA volume 02 issue 07
Guest edited by Kendell Geers.

Although scholars no longer share the Enlightenment view that Africans are childlike and capable of thinking only simple thoughts at best, some still offer explanations of Kongo remedial complexes (min’kisi, sing.n’kisi) that presume a tendency to naïve imitation on the part of the makers of such complexes.  In some respects therefore, we have not advanced beyond the view of Dutch traders on the West Atlantic coast of Africa in the eighteenth century who reported that when an African needed a deity to sponsor some enterprise, he would make a god of the first thing his eye happened to light upon, perhaps a bone, a piece of wood, a dog, or a lion’s tail. In fact, any actual n’kisiis clearly not an object picked at random but a complex assemblage of materials requiring time and deliberation to compose it. 

Sasol New Signatures - Last Call for Entries

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Are you the next winner of the Sasol New Signatures art competition? Two weeks to go until entries close!

Johannesburg, South Africa –  There are just over two weeks to go until the entries close for the Sasol New Signatures art competition, which is aimed at South African artists above the age of 18.

The prestigious contest is the longest running competition of its kind in South Africa and a platform to unearth and showcase local artists to the art-loving public.

From Abramović to Xaba at Aspire

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Aspire Art Auctions’ upcoming July sale at The Park on 7, Hyde Park Corner, offers a selection of some of the best works produced by local and international artists available on the local market.

Voodoo Past and Present

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ART AFRICA volume 02 issue 07
Guest edited by Kendell Geers.
In July 2016 the Republic of Benin asked that France give back 5000 objects. In the palaces of Abomey, the ancient capital of the Danhomè Kingdom, the rooms are empty. Most of the vestiges of the reign of the kings are visible today at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris, while copies sculpted from photographs of the originals are displayed in Abomey. The contrast is breathtaking and the symbol is strong. Nonetheless, all was not acquired in bad faith, or seized during the conquest of the Danhomè Kingdom at the end of the 19th century, and the list of required objects is still to be established.

Congo Two Ways

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ART AFRICA volume 02 issue 07
Guest edited by Kendell Geers.
Few objects created in Africa as thoroughly reflect the range of misconceived ideas outsiders have projected on the expressive and spiritual cultures of the continent. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Bakongo groups of central Africa have constructed and enhanced some of their wooden figures with nails. Once seized or traded from today’s northern Angola, western DRC, Cabinda, and Congo, dozens of these figures continue to be displayed in museums of art or anthropology around the world - an unrelenting visual impact born of the intricate of their construction.

Dressing Desire: C(lit) on their clothing and the empowerment of womxn

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Over the past few months, South Africa has seen a remarkable increase in gender-based violence, where women and children are almost always the victims of sex crimes and brutal murders. Whilst the extent of violence towards women and children may be ‘uniquely’ South African, the discrimination is not. Only recently did Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, claim that “[he does] not have any bad days, because [he’s] not a woman”.

Misogyny and patriarchy have for too long been dominant in our global society, and women are tired of existing under the male gaze. ART AFRICA spoke to Sarah Zimmerman and Ceil Ann, the creators of C(lit), to find out how they’re combatting gender-based violence and inequality today, bringing empowerment to all those who relate to, and resonate with, their brand.  


0001AA Helen RESIZED 2 

Tr(eat) me better, 2017. Model:MziyandaImage courtesy of C(lit).


COLLECTOR.magazine Robert Devereux, When the Heavens Meet the Earth

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COLLECTOR. magazine volume 01 issue 02

Robert Devereux spoke to COLLECTOR. on African art now, his private collection 'Sina Jina', and the personal side to collecting art.


0001 AA 08 Installation image When the Heavens Meet the Earth 2017 courtesy the artists and The Heong Gallery Downing College Cambridge photo Perry Hastings 1 

Installation image, When the Heavens Meet the Earth, 2017. Image courtesy the artists and The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge. Photo: Perry Hastings.



The Burning Question:

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By Sven Christian

Last Wednesday one of Swaziland’s leading news outlets, the Swazi Observer, published a story entitled ‘Government’s rosy refugee report ignores reality.’ Circulated nationwide, the article paints an apocalyptic (yet realistic) vision of Swaziland, following the increasing number of immigrants seeking refuge in more hospitable climates. Dependant on international aid to accommodate the population spike, the Swaziland government finds itself pandering to international press at the International Committee on Climate Migration (ICCM) in an attempt to retain future funding. “With assistance from both the GCF and the SADC community, Swaziland has adopted what - at least on paper - looks like a proactive and welcoming stance on climate refugees,” wrote Remigius Dlamini.

Out of Nowhere - A Group Exhibition

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by Marijke Tymbios


The muse is an ideal and therefore says more about the artist than it does about the muse.

In her response to the theme of Smith’s group exhibition, ‘Out of Nowhere’, Michaela Younge captures the veracity of creative stimulus contained in the concept of the muse. At once the object of desire and subject of inscrutable study, the muse lends a voyeuristic glance into what largely consumes the complex inner-workings of a creative mind. Conceived in reaction to Stieglitz’s photographic portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe, Smith curator Amy Ellenbogen set the theme as a challenge for contemporary artists to demonstrate the shift from the archaic ideal of the female deity to the often latent multitude of subjective sources of inspiration. Fuelled with renewed insight, Ellenbogen poses the following, “What are modern day muses? How has the relationship between the artist and the muse shifted over time? Has it shifted?” In light of the curatorial proposal, a selection of 24 artists was made for the exhibition which interrogates and presents a plethora of conceptual responses to the muse.

Jeanne Gaigher, Veil, 2017. Acrylic on canvas and dyed scrim, 80 x 120cm; Jeanne Gaigher, Separated Belly, 2017. Acrylic, ink and household paint on block-out, 245 x 155cm.


Banele Khoza, Untitled, 2017. Oil on canvas, 92 x 122cm.

Upon entering the space, one experiences a cathartic response to reality with the figurative renderings by Jeanne Gaigher and Banele Khoza. Confronting the viewer with questions of identity, Gaigher’s work precariously balances on the cusp of androgyny whilst Khoza offers a highly expressive take on the nude male figure.



Claire Johnson, Keeping Quiet Two, 2017. Acrylic on Zerkall paper, 92 x 57cm framed

Dale Lawrence, The Only Constant is Change, 2017. Acrylic on paper, 120 x 80cm.

A plurality of forms and mediums become evident as one moves past the abstract expressions produced by Claire Johnson and Dale Lawrence. The uncanny familiarity of a high modernist aesthetic draws one into the work of Johnson, whereas Lawrence’s bold, textured line work evoke feelings of incompletion as echoed in his artist statement, “A muse or subject or inspiration is and must remain always unattainable or it will cease to be. Attainment is completion. Completion is consumption or death. It is perhaps the recognition of impermanence – a hopeless hope – that creates the intense dynamic necessary for art.”



Katharien de Villiers, The Waves/Wanderer Above The Fog, 2017. Foam, perspex and spray paint. Dimensions may vary.

Subtly transcending the sensory, Katharien de Villiers provides a visual map in which she draws on concepts expressed in the literature of Eliot and Woolf placed alongside Friedrich’s iconic ‘Wanderer Above the Fog’. In combining these references, she offers the viewer some insight into the existential grappling that underpins her installation. In a similar vein, Bert Pauw’s loaded composition comprises a 2D photographic image (of a sunbathing Slimslab) framed by evocative installation pieces. The power of Pauw’s work lies in the recasting of banal items and images, in effect turning prosaic objects into subjects of renewed inquiry.


LEFT TO RIGHT: All by Bert Pauw, Purity of an Ideal, 2017. Mixed media, 27 x 20 x 70cm; Agitation of Sinking Thoughts, 2017. Pigment print on cotton rage, 80 x 60cm; Sacred Fragment of Unconscious Joy, 2017. Mixed media, 15 x 15 x 12cm.

Considering the exhibition in its entirety, as a group show consisting of 46 works by 24 artists, one is able to cast wide-angled glances over the gallery spaces, fashioning dialogues and moments of interplay between the pieces. However Jess Holdengarde’s intricate collage work necessitates close- and concentrated inspection. Not to say that the work does not blend with the overarching aesthetic of the exhibition, as her collages are well curated in their own capacity, Holdengarde triumphs in the execution of a mindful, decorative response to custody battle of power surrounding the female body.


Jess Holdengarde, A Garden of Shattered Thoughts, Obscure Dreams and a Glimpse of No Reality, 2017. Mixed media collage on tracing paper, 60 x 85cm.

A dialogue between beauty and repulsion emerges from flatness of Stephen Allwright’s the fallen rope-walker (resurrected). Devoid of perversity, Allwright manages to enlarge certain features, such as the nipples, without offending the viewer. Beauty lies in the body language and sullen features of this figure frozen in eternal isolation. An inquiry into and question of the muse resurfaces, but is left in a state of rhetorical abandon.


Stephen Allwright, the fallen rope-walker (resurrected), 2017. Watercolour, ink and pencil on paper, 138 x 98cm.

At last glance, evidence of a distinct colour palette brings forth the question of a collective unconscious as an undercurrent that binds the idiosyncratic expressions, as Ellenbogen states, “You’d think we’d have moved well past the idea of the muse as female but, curiously and whether or not this was intentional, there’s a lot of pink and blue in this show.” Despite the recurrence of gendered pigments, ‘Out of Nowhere’ attests to the wealth of insight into the contemporary, subjective take on the muse.

Artists who formed part of ‘Out of Nowhere’ at Smith Studios, which ran from 3 to 27 May 2017 include: Stephen Allwright, Fanie Buys, Frederick Clarke, Katharien de Villiers, Byron Fredericks, Jeanne Gaigher, Jeanne Hoffman, Jess Holdengarde, Claire Johnson, Jill Joubert, Banele Khoza, Michael Linders, Dale Lawrence, Gitte Möller, Rosie Mudge, Gina Niederhumer, Jenny Parsons, Bert Pauw, Thomas Pierre, Joshua Stanley, Anna van der Ploeg, Marsi van de Heuvel, Mary Visser and Michaela Younge.

A luta continua - A vitória é certa

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Kendell Geers, Mutus Liber (Fetish), 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.
By Kendell Geers
At the end of Apartheid – in the time between Nelson Mandela’s release and the first election – I threw a red clay brick through the window of the Market Theatre Gallery. It was a protected space of protest and a bastion of the cultural wing of the anti-apartheid movement, a space of hope and revolutionary expectation. The red clay brick, a sign of eurocentric Minimalism and the biblical symbol of our flesh, was re-cast as a cultural weapon in the name of African art. The smashed vitrine was liberated and the African Mask could dance once again, moving through the streets in the masquerade that never rests, can never be defined, is always shifting and changing. You cannot understand the dance unless you are the dancer and you have no right to wear the mask unless you understand its power. The history of African art is intertwined within the context of its contradictory histories, the complexities of its politics, identities, communities, struggles, culture, and faith. The AK47 is as integral to African identity as the mask, wax print fabric, and the mobile phone, yet these incongruous elements are rarely understood as inextricably interconnected.

Kendell Geers, The Wretched of the Earth, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.


In 1550, the Venetian cartographer Giovanni Battista Ramusio depicted the African continent with the South on top, an orientation that was followed by Leo Africanus in 1556 and again a century later by Giovanni Battista Nicolosi. Whilst it has since become the habit and norm to depict the round planet with North on top, the convention speaks more about the national identity of the mapmakers and the place of Europe than the lie of the land. Our image of the world map is determined by where we see our place on that map. “Since Mercator produced his global map over four hundred years ago for the age of Europeans world domination, cartographers have clung to it, despite its having been long outdated by events. They have sought to render it topical by cosmetic corrections,” wrote German historian Arno Peters, “… The European world concept, as the last expression of a subjective global view of primitive peoples, must give way to an objective global concept. The cartographic profession is, by its retention of old precepts based on the Eurocentric global concept, incapable of developing this egalitarian world map which alone can demonstrate the parity of all peoples of the earth”.


"The issue of the magazine that I have been invited to guest edit has been conceived of as an exorcism, breathing spirit back into matter through an interrogation of form and content."


The issue of the magazine that I have been invited to guest edit has been conceived of as an exorcism, breathing spirit back into matter through an interrogation of form and content. Black Americans, White Africans, European Arabs, indigenous and immigrant, all of us – whether from the continent or the ever-growing diaspora – are authentic and curious. African art, culture, and the fluidity of identity are rooted in the social, political, and spiritual communities of artists whose work opens our eyes to truths we are otherwise blind to see. The work of art exists at the intersection between flesh and spirit, between politics and identity, at the sharpest edge of the anvils of experience. “Politics, it goes without saying, is closely related to the social. The latter is to the former as the artist’s hand is to his mind… The [African] service will have been to contribute, with other peoples, to remaking the unit man and World: to binding the flesh to the spirit, man to his fellow, stone to God. In other words, to binding the real to the spiritual surreal – through man not as the centre, but as the point, the navel, of the World.” (Leopold Senghor)

“A luta continua - A vitória é certa”

– Kendell Geers, Guest Editor 


Cape Town // 17 Shelley Road