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The Best African Art In 2014

Okayafrica looks back at the best African art in 2014, featuring work by Wangechi Mutu, Emeka Ogboh, Omar Victor Diop and more.


2014 had no shortage of exceptional images and stories from the African art world. Longtime favorites of ours like Wangechi Mutu, Hassan Hajjaj, and Chris Saunders continued to perfect their trade with exhibition openings across the globe. Morocco opened its first contemporary art museum. Street art took over Accra's streets for the fourth year running. The Brooklyn Museum made a commitment to African art with an ambitious new long-term installation. 1:54 in London, Europe’s leading contemporary African art fair, drew in work by over 100 of the Continent's top artists. LagosPhoto returned for an outstanding fifth year of photographed bliss in Nigeria. First Thursdays became "a thing" in Cape Town. Everday Africa brought their instagrammed images across the Continent all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge. London paid its respects to Nigeria's late provocative photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Mother Of George filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu made his solo photo exhibition debut in NYC. We even got to know a new face in textile, Kenyan-American illustrator/designer Jamilla Okubo, and Adire icon Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye. With a new year just upon us, we looked back at some of the best African visual art 2015 had to offer.

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Samuel Fosso, Self Portrait, 1977. International Center of Photography, Purchase, with fundsprovided by the ICP Aquisitions Committee, 2004 (19.2004) © Samuel Fosso, Courtesy JMPatras/Paris

These Portraits by African Photographers Reveal the Power In Self-Presentation

We take a tour through the International Center for Photography's "Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection", which features influential works from Malick Sidibé, Zanele Muholi, Samuel Fosso and more.

The eyes of the young woman in Zanele Muholi's "Anele, 'Anza' Khaba," look as if they're staring directly into your soul. With her arms folded against her chest, it seems she might be putting a guard up or that they might simply be trying to look cool for the camera. With portraiture especially, how far you decide to read into something is up to you, as often, the line between a subject's desire for self-presentation and what the photographer themselves seeks to convey, isn't always clear. These are the types of observations that the "Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection", sparked in my mind as I strolled through the space with its Director of Exhibitions and Collections, Erin Barnett.

"You learn a lot about yourself and about other people by looking at portraits, but not always what you think you know," she says. We also learn a lot about the person behind the lens. The ICP's exhibit features works from photographers from across the globe, with the mission of surveying "the nuanced ways people present themselves for the camera, how and by whom they are represented, and who is deemed worthy of commemoration." The works of four prominent African photographers are included in the exhibition: the Malian icon Malick Sidibé, Cameroon's Samuel Fosso, along with South African photographers Zanele Muholi, and Lolo Veleko. Their photographs, the settings, and who they choose to document, give us a glimpse into their vision as much as it does the subjects in their photographs (which for Samuel Fosso, in this case, is himself.)

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Art
Keturah Benson

8 Black Art Moments You Can't Miss During Art Basel Miami 2018

Our guide to Blackness at this year's fair.

It's that time of year again. Art Basel is bringing its magic back to Miami. The annual art fair that showcases modern and contemporary art, is set to have more than 4,000 artists displaying work across all mediums. The Miami iteration of the week-long fair has become a space for artists, galleries, collectors and countless art lovers to connect, be inspired and party for the last 16 years.

Here are some Black art must-sees during Art Basel:

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Image by Kabelenga Phiri.

Check out 'AKANTUNSE', a Visual Celebration of African Mythology

The speculative photo series by Zambian collective Kabumba, re-imagines nine significant figures in African mythology, cosmology and folklore.

Kabumba is a Zambian collective based in Lusaka that curates African visual art that seeks to push the limits on existing narratives within African art. AKANTUNSE is Kabumba's latest project—a fun and speculative photo series which celebrates nine figures in African mythology, cosmology and folklore.

We reached out to creative director, Chanda Karimamusama, who worked alongside photographer Kabelenga Phiri and make-up artist Mary Mthetwa, to find out what how AKANTUNSE came together.

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popular
Photo by Jamal Nxedlana.

Afripedia is the Visual Platform Connecting African Artists to Their Clients

The newly launched platform wants to foster a strong community of African artists on the continent and in the diaspora.

Afripedia is live! The curated visual platform, which was created by Swedish production collective Stocktownfilms aims to do away with misrepresentation within the creative industry and connect African creatives to their clients by giving them increased exposure. The platform comes five years after an initial 5-part documentary series which focused on creatives in Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal.

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