Africa’s Art Boom is Here01/06/2016
African art is having a moment—at least you might think that if you only just started paying attention.
Across the continent, galleries are throwing open their doors and festivals are spilling onto the streets of capital cities; the names of Africa’s most successful artists roll with increasing ease off the tongues of dealers and critics in New York, London, and Paris.
This week, the Dak’art Biennale in Senegal’s coastal capital city is wrapping up its twelve edition since 1992, a reminder that African art is not new, the rest of world is just waking up.
An African art market boom is on the way, says Bloomberg News. But it may already be here. Since Bonhams, a London-based auction house, started its Africa Now sale eight years ago, average prices have increased fivefold to $50,000. Africans aren’t just the ones creating the art, they’re the ones buying it with over half of the buyers being African. Sotheby’s is one of the world’s largest brokers of fine art and their annual sale of African and Oceanic art was $84 million in 2014, an astronomic rise from only $4 million two decades ago.
The 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair took place in New York earlier this month and will take place again in London in October. Shots of Dakar’s rambling curio markets, stunning shorelines, and vibrant night clubs interspersed with the mammoth sculptures and installations of Dak’art were projected at 1:54, highlighting the increasing connections between African artists.
“Interest in contemporary African art has exploded, particularly among international collectors,” Giles Peppiatt, Director of Contemporary African Art at Bonhams told The Telegraph.
The theme of Dak’arts main exhibition this year, Re-enchantment, celebrates and pokes fun at renewing global excitement—African artists have been creating all along.
African Speakers and Artist’s own Blinky Bill, whose remix of ‘Bag Raiders,’ is sweeping the continent, performed with DJ Cortega and others at a special Dak’art version of Electrafrique, a premier African dance music show.
Dak’art also showcased artists from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sudan, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya as well as artists hailing from across the African diaspora.
Alexis Peskine’s video and art installation pays homage to migrants and Kader Attia’s work opens with walls papered in articles about violence in Syria and Egypt. The inclusion of the work of the late French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, who was murdered in a terror attack in Burkina Faso last month, symbolizes the powerful and enduring creativity on the continent even as it experiences great tragedy.