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"Sailing Back to Africa as a Dutch Woman," 2017, from the series "Fortia." Photo by Keyezua, courtesy of Nataal.

8 African Art Events You Need To See In NYC This May

OkayAfrica's guide to African art in New York City this month.

The month of May is another prime moment of the year with art fairs around the world, especially with Frieze New York launching this week. The Big Apple will be graced with substantial satellite fairs for African art, including this year's New York addition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

Take a look at eight African art events you can't miss this month below.


1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair || Pioneer Works

"Untitled," Sanlé Sory. Photo courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery.

1-54 NY is the leading international art fair dedicated to promoting contemporary art from diverse African perspectives. Just coming off a successful launch on the continent in Marrakech, Morocco, its fourth edition is set to display works from 21 galleries from artists including Phoebe Boswell, Derrick Adams, Malick Sidibe, Gideon Appah, Ralph Ziman and more.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair runs from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

Without Qualities || Addis Fine Art + Private View New York

Luam Melake, "Black," 2017. Photo courtesy of Addis Fine Art.

Addis Fine Art (AFA) and Private View New York, a new private loft showroom in Soho, holds its first exhibition of Without Qualities, featuring AFA artists Tariku Shiferaw and Luam Melake. This collaboration brings together two phenomenal Ethiopian-American artists who fuse the cultural influences of their backgrounds and their lives in New York. Although their origins are similar, their artistic approaches and processes are what differ. Both artists do create abstract compositions using carefully selected multi-layered materials that represent the interconnectivity of art and industry, as well as portray abstract narratives that evoke the viewer's emotions and memory.

Without Qualities is open through Sunday, May 6, and can be viewed by appointment from Tuesday, May 8 to Thursday, May 31 at Private View in Soho.

PAPER Plains || Sotheby's Institute of Art

Sotheby's Institute of Art presents PAPER Plains, a solo exhibition of Kenyan artist Tahir Carl Karmali, curated by Klaudia Draber. Karmali's photographs, sculptures and a sound installation will be on view, exploring his longstanding interest in migrant identities and the sense of belonging in two recent bodies of work. One of which is PAPER:work, where Karmali tackles the complexities of identity of African migrants as shaped by nationality, authenticity, documentation and borders.

PAPER Plains is on view until Tuesday, May 8 at Sotheby's Institute of Art in Manhattan.

The Other Art Fair || Brooklyn Expo Center

"Holiday Duties" from Dennis Osadebe's "A Stranger In My Home" series. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Other Art Fair, presented by Saatchi Art, is a fair for a new generation of art buyers, as well as a place to discover and buy art direct from the very best of emerging talent. One of which is Nigerian artist Dennis Osadebe, the only artist representing the continent at the fair. Osadebe will be presenting a new series, entitled A Stranger In My Home, where he takes the elements of a home setting and infuses aesthetics inspired by his Nigerian heritage with neon masks as his reoccurring focus. Through the 10 works in this series, Osadebe takes on the idea of globalization and how cultures intersect today, reinforcing the idea of urban living hybrids.

The Other Art Fair runs from Thursday, May 3, through Sunday, May 6 at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

Nataal: New African Photography III || Red Hook Labs

"Ruth, Amina and the three Aisha's play 'In and Out'," 2017, Tatsuniya. Photo by Rahima Gambo, courtesy of Nataal.

Nataal presents New African Photography III, the third edition of its co-curated group exhibition with an all-female, star studded lineup, at Red Hook Labs. The media brand also announced the publication of their first print magazine. Featuring work from Fatoumata Diabaté (Mali), Rahima Gambo (Nigeria), Keyezua (Angola), Alice Mann (South Africa), Ronan Mckenzie (UK) and Ruth Ossai (Nigeria), the show will display a range of fresh perspectives from contemporary photography that address a diverse set of concers relating to representation, gender and identity. New African Photography III celebrates the launch of Nataal's debut print issue, where the large format, 336-page magazine showcases and collaborated with artists who are building diverse narratives in and about the spirit of Africa.

Nataal: New African Photography III runs from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 13 at Red Hook Labs.

Refraction: New Photography From Africa and Its Diaspora || Steven Kasher Gallery

"King Kane" by Stan Squirewell. Image courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery.

Refraction: New Photography of Africa and Its Diaspora is a photo exhibition presenting a generation of photographic artists of African descent born in the 1970s through the 1990s at Steven Kasher Gallery. These 12 artists, who reside from all over the world, portray black bodies in acts of cultural meditation, revive the traditional African rites of masking, costuming, quilting, body ornamentation and invocation of spirits, through their work. The works curated for Refraction are meant to bridge the gap between black stereotypes and black reality. The photos maneuver the complex relationship between innate identities and identities that have grown from social, political and cultural influences.

Refraction is on view until Saturday, June 2 at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea.

E-Moves 2018 || Harlem Stage

Omar Mizrahi. Photo by Robert Bader.

Harlem Stage presents its signature dance series, E-Moves, featuring works from three contemporary African choreographers in four nights this year. Each night will also feature a pop-up performance by up-and-coming young choreographers. Choreographers Lacina Coulibaly (Burkina Faso), Ousmane Wiles (Senegal) and Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe) were commissioned by Harlem Stage to develop new works or reimagine existing pieces from their choreographic canons; wrestling with questions that push the boundaries of what it means to be African in America now.

E-Moves 2018 runs from Wednesday, May 2 through Saturday, May 5. For tickets, check out Harlem Stage's website.

A Ugandan Spring || Triangle Arts Association

Photo courtesy of The Salooni Project.

32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust presents A Ugandan Spring, its first fundraiser at the Triangle Arts Association. In an evening of cocktails, silent auctions and games to fundraise for 32° East's programs, the event is an opportunity for aspiring and seasoned collectors of contemporary African art to view unique perspectives from an underrepresented market.

A Ugandan Spring takes place on Friday, May 4. For tickets and more information, click here.

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Image courtesy of Adekunle Adeleke

Spotlight: Adekunle Adeleke Creates Digital Surrealist Paintings That Celebrate African Beauty

Get familiar with the work of Nigerian visual artist Adekunle Adeleke.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Adekunle Adeleke, a Nigerian visual artist, using digital mediums to paint dream-like portraits of Africans. Read more about the inspirations behind his work below, and check out some of his stunning paintings underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Facebook.

Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?

I am a self taught artist. I started drawing from when I was really young. I mostly used graphite pencils and paper. But about six years ago, I think it was 2014, I wanted to start getting into color. I was a university student at the time and I lived in a hostel with three other people, so I couldn't go traditional so [instead], I started making paintings digitally, first on my iPad and then on my laptop with a Wacom. I have been painting ever since.

What would you say are the central themes in your work?

I personally think my work celebrates beauty (African beauty to be precise) and occasionally absurd things. I really just want to make paintings that are beautiful.

How do you decide who or what you're going to paint?
I do not have an exact process. I do use a lot of references though. Sometimes, I had an idea of how exactly the painting would look, others I just make it up as i go along.

Can you talk about a particular moment or turning point in your life that made you want to pursue art or a creative path?

I am not sure–I did not actively pursue art in a sense. I was just doing it because it was fun and I wanted to. Then people all of a sudden wanted to put me on projects and offer to pay for my hobby. I have thankfully been able to make art and also work in a separate field—which I also enjoy–by day.

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Cover art of "Banjo".

Watch Cameroonian Drag Artist Bebe Zahara Benet's New Music Video for 'Banjo'

Video Premiere: Bebe Zahara Benet releases the colourful visuals for her latest single 'Banjo' ahead of her upcoming EP 'Broken English'.

Cameroonian drag artist Bebe Zahara Benet has just released the colourful visuals to her latest single 'Banjo'.

The single, which features on her upcoming Broken English EP, is the follow-up to several EPs she's released in the past including Face and Kisses & Feathers as well as a number of singles including "Fun Tonite", "Get Fierce (Lose Yourself)" and "Starting a Fire".

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C Natty/emPawa

You Need to Watch C Natty's New Music Video For 'Ojah'

Video Premiere: Check out the striking first release from Mr Eazi's #emPawa30.

C Natty arrives in style with his new single "Ojah."

The track, which is the first release from Mr Eazi's new group of #emPawa30 artists, sees the Nigerian artist delivering a highly-infectious and grooving concoction over jazz-leaning afrobeats produced by Killertunes.

The new music video for "Ojah," which we're premiering here today, is equally as stunning and follows the story of someone who doesn't take others' advice. C Natty told us the following about the DK of Priorgold Pictures-directed video:

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South African Hip-Hop Producers Tweezy and Gemini Major Set for Instagram Live Beat Battle

Two of South Africa's hip-hop super producers Tweezy and Gemini Major will face-off in upcoming Instagram live beat battle.

After Instagram live beat battles such as Swizz Beatz versus Timbaland and Mannie Fresh versus Scott Storch amid the lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it was only a matter of time until the hip-hop community across the world followed suit.

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