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5 Black African Women Shaping the Art Market

Celebrating Women's Day with Influential Curators, Gallerists, and Art Consultants

International Women's Day is a special day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over the world. In the art industry, women have been making significant contributions, especially in Africa.

Here, we highlight five influential black African curators, gallerists, and art consultants who are making a mark in the art industry.

1. Koyo Kouoh

Koyo Kouoh is a Cameroonian-born curator who has been the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa since 2019. She has also established the Raw Material Company in Dakar, Senegal, which serves as a center for art, knowledge, and society. Kouoh has curated and co-curated various exhibitions and publications on contemporary African art, making her one of Africa's pre-eminent art curators and managers.

Portrait of Koyo Kouoh | by Mehdi Benkler, BAK

2. Rita Mawuena Benissan

Rita Mawuena Benissan is a Ghanaian-born artist and educator who is on the Executive Board of Noldor Residency, a platform for emerging and established artists to create, collaborate and exhibit in Accra, Ghana. She is also an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of North Georgia and the founder of Mawuena Koutonin Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports art education and cultural exchange in Ghana. Benissan has exhibited her paintings, sculptures and installations in several countries and has received various awards and grants for her work. She has also been involved in several art education and outreach programs, promoting the importance of art and culture in society.

A portrait of Rita Mawuena Benissan | By Nana Misa

3. Adora Mba

Adora Mba is a Nigerian-born art consultant and journalist who is the Founder and Director of ADA Contemporary Art Gallery, a gallery dedicated to showcasing emerging and established African artists in Accra, Ghana. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The Afropolitan Collector, an online platform that provides insights and analysis on the African art market. Mba has curated and co-curated several exhibitions and events on contemporary African art and has contributed to various publications and media outlets as an art critic and commentator.

Adora Mba, 2020. Courtesy: ADA \ Contemporary; photograph: Daniel Cole Ofoe Amegavie.

4. Essé Dabla-Attikpo

Essé Dabla-Attikpo is a Togolese-born art consultant and collector who specializes in contemporary African art. She is the founder and director of Essé Art Advisory, a consultancy firm that offers services such as art acquisition, collection management, valuation, and exhibition curation to private and corporate clients. Dabla-Attikpo is also the co-founder and curator of Art Twenty One, a gallery and exhibition space that promotes contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora in Lagos, Nigeria. She has been involved in several art projects and initiatives that aim to foster dialogue and collaboration among artists, curators, and collectors.

5. Oyinkan Dada

Oyinkan Dada is a Nigerian-born art historian and curator who is the Founder and Director of DADA Gallery, a gallery that showcases contemporary art from Nigeria and the African continent in Lagos, Nigeria. She is also the founder and curator of DADA Dialogues, a series of online conversations that explore various topics and themes related to contemporary African art and culture. Dada has curated and co-curated various exhibitions and programs on contemporary African art and has participated in various residencies, workshops, and conferences as an art professional.

These five influential women are making significant strides to the art market in Africa. They are curating, exhibiting, collecting, and promoting contemporary African art to the world. Their efforts are helping to elevate the African art industry and break down barriers that have hindered the growth and recognition of African artists.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, we applaud these women for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to advancing the African art industry.

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