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Galleries to Watch | 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London

1-54 Contemporary African Art, opening to the public on October 13, is one of the main attractions for many in London this week. Solidifying its position as a pivotal event in the world, the leading art fair dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora, continues to play a significant role in elevating London’s contemporary art scene.

With 62 international exhibitors from over 31 countries, the fair’s largest edition to date, we have narrowed down 6 galleries to view this weekend.

 

1.WHATIFTHEWORLD | Booth: W4

Stephané E. Conradie, Sepideh Mehraban, Lungiswa Gqunta, Chris Soal and Athi-Patra Ruga.

Chris Soap, The branch wants to keep on branding
Chris Soap | The branch wants to keep on branding. The point of the game is the keep on playing, 2023

Founded in 2008, WHATIFTHEWORLD is a recognised contemporary art gallery both within South Africa and internationally. Part question, part purpose and part statement, their name anticipates the gallery’s program: a host of ambitious projects that promote curiosity and thought.


With a strong focus on Africa and the African diaspora, the gallery represents influential artists who engage with global and local contemporary art and socio-political contexts.

 

2.Loeve & Co | Booth: E8

Roland Dorcély, Mwenze Kibwanga, Modou Niang, Jacques Zigoma and, Alex Burke



A Parisian gallery dedicated to the rediscovery of historic artists, Loeve&Co presents a selection of works around the theme of weaving, a discipline that occupies an important place in black culture. This dialogue brings together paintings, sculptures, tapestries and drawings by Roland Dorcély (Haiti, 1930-2017), Mwenze Kibwanga (Congo, 1925-1999), Modou Niang (Senegal, born 1945), Jacques Zigoma (Congo, 1936-1987) and, in his first collaboration with Loeve&Co, Alex Burke (Martinique, born 1944).

 

3.Galleria Anna Marra | Booth: S14

Adegboyega Adesina, Elena El Asmar and Khadija Jayi


Galleria Anna Marra, active since 2013, is located in Rome’s ancient Jewish Ghetto focuses focuses on valorising emerging and middle career talents, that promotes by organising exhibitions both in its own exhibition spaces and in public institutions. To create its exhibitions it avails itself of scientific contributions from external curators with which each project is elaborated, as well as through the publication of dedicated monographs and catalogues and participation in art fairs.

 

4.Berman Contemporary | Booth: S20

Athenkosi Kwinana, Cow Mash, DuduBloomMore and Hazel Mphande

Hazel Mphande A fatalistic warning, 2021 Archival pigment on Felix Schoeller True Fibre 59 x 39.3cm Framed Size: 60 x 40 x 5cm
Hazel Mphande | A fatalistic warning, 2021 Archival pigment on Felix Schoeller True Fibre 59 x 39.3cm

Berman Contemporary is rooted in the growing understanding of the cultural richness and diversity of South African contemporary art. For its showcase at 1-54, the artworks will explore themes of identity, resilience, and empowerment. Each artist's work will offer a unique perspective on these themes, and collectively they will create a powerful and thought-provoking exhibition. The booth will be curated to create a seamless and immersive experience for visitors, urging them to engage with the artworks and the underlying themes from their point of view.

 

5.SMO Contemporary | Booth: E11 (Upper Embankment)

Ayoola Gbolahan, Jill Berelowitz, & Victor Sonoiki

Jill Berelowitz, Gaia Maquette, Bronze, 2022, Edition of 9, 71 x 20 cm.
Jill Berelowitz | Gaia Maquette, Bronze, 2022, Edition of 9, 71 x 20 cm

SMO Contemporary Art is an international art platform, showcasing a unique portfolio of modern and contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora to a global audience.


For its 1-54 Presentation, SMO presents When Love is Right, an exhibition of paintings, sculpture, and mixed media works by Ayoola Gbolahan, Jill Berelowitz, and Victor Sonoiki. These three artists explore the universality of love, a balanced relationship with the earth, and the need to preserve our cultural identity for past and future generations. Their works create a powerful interplay by artists from three different generations, who show us what it means to come to terms with our human connections, our environment and our ancestry, through the exploration of a muilti-ethnic African lens.


 

6.Kristin Hjellegjerde | Booth: S5

Wendimagegn Belete


For its presentation at 1-54 London, Kristin Hjellegjerde presents a solo both by artist Wendimagegn Belete who reimagines a selection of archive images captured in the eastern part of Africa in early 20th century, predominantly in Ethiopia.


These archival materials, rich with historical significance, find new life through Belete’s work, emerging as large silkscreen paintings. The chosen motifs center around evocative Ethiopian portraits, thoughtfully interwoven with intricate technical drawings of camera equipment. This creative fusion invites viewers to contemplate the intricate relationship between photography, its purpose, and the complex interplay between subject and object within the vivid series of artworks.

 

VIP Preview: Thusday 12th October

Public Viewing: Friday 13th - Sunday 15th October


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