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5 African Art Curators You Absolutely Should Know

The African art scene has been experiencing a significant rise in prominence, and a group of talented curators has been at the forefront of shaping and promoting African art globally. These curators have made invaluable contributions to the field, showcasing the diversity and richness of African artistic expression. In this article, we highlight five African art curators who have garnered acclaim for their work.

1. Peju Oshin

Péjú Oshin sitting
Image: Péjú Oshin. Photography by Jake Green, courtesy of Gagosian

Péjú Oshin is a British-Nigerian curator, writer, and educator born and raised in London. Her work sits at the intersection of art, style & culture with a focus on liminal theory through working with visual artists, brands, and people globally. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list in the Arts & Culture category. She was also nominated and selected as one of fifteen members of AWITA (Art Women in the Arts) sponsored by Martin Millers Gin, the Adara Foundation, and Hauser & Wirth in the same year. Péjú serves as Associate Director at Gagosian (2022-Present) and is a member of the ArtFund Curatorial Diversity Steering Group. Her previous roles include Curator: Young People’s Programmes at Tate (2018-2022) and Chair of Trustees at Peckham Platform. She also curated the critically acclaimed Gagosian exhibition, Rites of Passage (2023) uniting nineteen artists with shared stories of migration.

2. Aindrea Emelife

Aindrea Emelife curator
Aindrea Emelife, photographed by Jordan Tiberio.

Currently a Curator at Modern and Contemporary at MOWAA (Museum of West African Art, Edo), Aindrea Emelife is a Nigerian-British curator and art historian specialising in modern and contemporary art, with a focus on questions around colonial and decolonial histories in Africa, transnationalism and the politics of representation. In 2021, Emelife was appointed to the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. Her recent exhibitions include Black Venus; a survey of the legacy of the Black woman in visual culture, which opened at Fotografiska New York in May 2022 featuring the work of 19 international artists and expanded to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and Somerset House in London on 20 July, 2023. Emelife is also the curator of Nigeria's second-ever national pavilion for the 2024 Venice Biennale. She is also working on her second book with Thames & Hudson, which debuts in 2024.

3. Ekow Eshun

Portrait of Ekow Eshun
Portrait of Ekow Eshun | ©Antonio Zazueta Olmos

Ekow Eshun, a Ghanaian-British curator, editor and writer, has been instrumental in promoting African art globally. He is Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing London's most significant public art programme, and was Artistic and Executive Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2005-10), during which time visitors rose by 38%. He has curated major exhibitions including the renowned Black Fantastic at the Hayward Gallery in London in July 2022 and Africa State of Mind, an internationally acclaimed survey show heralding a new era in African photography. Eshun is also a Creative Director of the arts space Calvert 22 Foundation, for which he has instigated an award-winning online magazine, The Calvert Journal. Eshun's latest curatorial work, a group exhibition titled: In and Out of Time is currently showing at Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana and runs until 12 Dec, 2023.

4. Osei Bonsu

Portrait of Osei Bonsu
Image: Osei Bonsu | Image Credit by Suzie Howell.

Osei Bonsu is a British-Ghanaian curator and writer. He is currently a curator of International Art at Tate Modern, where he is responsible for organising exhibitions, developing the museum’s collection, and broadening the representation of artists from Africa and the African diaspora. Bonsu was named a 2023 VIA Curatorial Fellow, becoming the first international curator to receive the VIA fellowship. He is the curator of Tate Modern’s latest show A World In Common: Contemporary African Photography featuring 36 artists - which runs until 14 January 2024. In 2020, Bonsu was named one of Apollo magazine's "40 under 40" leading African voices. Currently, Bonsu is working on unveiling El Anatsui's new artwork for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall open to the public from the 10th of October, 2023.

5. Chika Okeke-Agulu

portrait of Chika Okeke-Agulu

As an artist, critic, and art historian who doubles as a curator, Chika Okeke-Agulu specializes in indigenous, modern, and contemporary African and African Diaspora art history and theory. He was appointed the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College (2007), Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2020); and Slade Professor of Fine Art, University of Oxford (2023). As a curator, he co-organized Samuel Fosso: Affirmative Acts, Princeton University Art Museum, 2022; and (with Okwui Enwezor) the travelling survey El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2019). In 2006, he edited the first ever issue of African Arts Dedicated to African Modernism. His writings have appeared in African Arts, Meridians: Feminism, Race, Internationalism, Artforum International, Packett, South Atlantic Quarterly, and October, as well as in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Huffington Post. Okeke-Agulu is on the curatorial team of Sharjah Biennial (2023) and was appointed Senior Advisor, Modern and Contemporary Art at EMOWAA (Edo Museum of West African Art) earlier this year.

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