Arts + Culture

15 African Artists To Follow On Instagram Now

A list of 15 African artists who are captivating us with their gallery-worthy Instagram feeds.

Gone are the days when you had to visit a gallery or museum—where works by black artists are usually underrepresented—to see the latest in fine art. Some of the most striking visual art is literally at our fingertips—a well curated Instagram feed can be a pathway to some of the best in what the contemporary art world has to offer. The social media site has made various forms of global art much more accessible.

Some of our favorite artists share their work via Instagram on a regular basis—bringing thoughtfulness and color to our timelines on the daily. Scrolling through their feeds certainly beats looking at random selfies of people we haven't talked to in over 5 years.

Check below for our list of 15 African contemporary artists to follow on Instagram.

Lina Iris Viktor 

With her selective color palette of blue, black, white and gold, the Liberian artists, transfixes black woman in multilayered universes. Her eye-catching work draws inspiration from her travels in Mali, South Africa and Egypt. We featured the artist in OkayAfrica's 100 Women.

Laolu Senbanjo 

His unmatched black-and-white line work, "The Sacred Art of the Ori," was featured in Beyoncé's Lemonade, and draws heavily on themes of Yoruba culture and spirituality. You can find the Nigerian-born artist's work on a range of canvases: paper, clothing, sneakers,  bodies and—most commonly—faces.

Toyin Ojih Odutola 

The Nigerian artist's drawings often portray black subjects with a textured overlay on their skin, giving her work a multidimensional radiance. Aside from sharing her own original paintings on her page, she also posts works that she's come across through personal research, which makes her feed a rich source for modern black art.

Wangechi Mutu

The Kenyan artists latest collection, "Ndoro Na Miti" saw her departing from her signature aesthetic of intricate collage work, to create an assemblage of glossy sculptures that portray mythical "guardians of female identity," as OkayAfrica contributor, Nadia Sesay, describes them.

WaterWoman and others have arrived. We did it! Ndoro na Miti 'Mud and Trees'

A post shared by Wangechi Mutu Studio (@mutustudio) on

Ndidi Emefiele

The mixed media artist—who hails from northern Nigeria—posses a singular style that celebrates the feminine form with animated paintings of youthful black women, often rocking quirky frames and Ankara-print clothing.

We got a chance to speak with her last year about her collection, "The Rainbow Series," which the artist describes as "a reaction to the anomalies in society particularly focusing on the female."

Taxi#bouttotakeoff #ndidiemefiele

A post shared by Ndidi Emefiele (@ndidi_emefiele) on

Neequaye Dreph Dsane

Born in Nottingham, England the skillful muralist's work "presents an alternative black British narrative," often featuring friends and people he's met during his travels, like in his latest series "You Are Enough." His stylized portraits have been featured in public spaces across Africa, Central and South America, Europe, and the UAE.

The 4th Subject from my ‘You Are Enough’ series is Mimi Fresh @FireMoonFresh. Mimi is my GF’s BFF (and my dance partner 😂). Mimi Is actually the first person I approached for this series and one of the last I am painting; this should tell you something about her complex character. She is an influencer who is reputed for turning heads and rocking the ‘@Afropunk’ style before it became popular. When I first met Mimi, what struck me was her youthful energy, free spirit and outlandish style. She is a rolling stone that has worn many hats including, styling, dj’ing, dancing, jewelry design and holistic therapy. Today Mimi works as a holistic health consultant whist studying psychosocial studies and vibrational medicine at Goldsmiths with the view to becoming a counsellor. She also works as Erykah Badu’s European PA and will be on the road with her this summer.... Wall provision @ldn_calling_blog for #sprayexhibition20 #penge  #gyanmudra #spirituality #awakening #meditation #healing #portraiture #portrait #art #melanin #painting #blackgirlmagic #naturalhair #yoga #handyoga #streetphotography #afropunk #afropunklondon #portraitpainting #youarenough #rememberhome @darkskinwomen @biggerthanus_

A post shared by Neequaye Dreph Dsane 🇬🇧 🇬🇭 (@dreph_) on

Babajide B Olatunji

The self-taught painter's latest collection "Tribal Marks," features a collection of photo-realistic drawings that examine the practice of scarification. Olatunji lives and operates out of Ife, Nigeria. The artist produces visually striking work, and seems to have a blast while doing so. This video of him dancing to Fela while painting a portrait of Fela is an instant mood-lifter.

Ben Biayenda

Born in Nambia to Congolese and French parents, the 19-year-old art student aims to help fill the void of black representation that he noticed in his art books growing up. "I see so much beauty in my African heritage. Africa is so rich and I felt the need to claim it in my art," he told Konbini.

Many of his drawings seamlessly depict the subtleties of black womanhood by showing subjects doing one another's hair or simply enjoying each other's company. His chic personal style also makes him worth the follow.

el Seed 

The French-Tunisian street artist uses his large-scale installations—which fuse Arabic calligraphy with elements of graffiti—to spread poetic messages of unity, strength and hope in some of the world's largest metropolises. His work has appeared on public buildings in cities like New York, Cape Town, Cairo, Rio di Janeiro and more.


A post shared by eL Seed (@elseed) on

Gelila Lila Mesfin

Ethiopian-born artist, also known as Thick East African Girl, transforms photos of black women into digitally painted masterpieces. Her attention to detail and rich color palette, make ordinary pictures of some of your favorite celebs—Erykah Badu, Ava Duvernay, and Janelle Monáe to name a few—dazzle with new brilliance. Her artwork, featuring a portrait of Michelle Obama as an Egyptian queen, recently made headlines, after it was featured on a mural by Chicago-based artist Chris Devins, without her permission. Try as he may, but there's no stealing Mesfin's shine, her work literally brightens our timeline!

Kehinde Wiley

You've probably seen the New-York-based, Nigerian painter's work before—the renowned artist is known for his portraits of stoic black subjects, regally painted over ornate backgrounds. Wiley's acclaimed paintings offer a refreshingly powerful alternative to the usually trite depictions of black males in urban settings.

Ethiopian Jews in Tel Aviv. Alios Itzhak, 2011 Oil and gold enamel on canvas 96 x 72 in @thejewishmuseum

A post shared by Kehinde Wiley (@kehindewiley) on

Lady Skollie

Born Laura Windvogel, the South African artist and activist's provocative work—done in crayon, water color and ink—tackles themes of gender, sexuality, and consent in her home country. "The sexual and sensual are by turns celebrated and the assumptions around it investigated including taboos, consent, gender expectations amongst other weighty concerns," wrote OkayAfrica contributor Sabo Kpade, when describing her latest exhibition "Lust Politics."

Arinze Stanley

The Nigerian surrealist painter is a go-to if you're a fan of unbelievably hyper-realistic art. The artists meticulously drawn black and white pieces look more like photographs than illustrations, and he often gives a behind-the-scenes look at his tedious creative process. We featured the artist, in our list of "10 Nigerian Hyper-Realistic Artists That Will Trick Your Eyes."

Loyiso Mkize

When he's not producing the South African comic book series, Kwezi, the painter and illustrator is creating ethereal oil paintings that portray the grandeur of their black subjects. "The works are the collective result of my years of creating artworks with a specific narrative, that of African aesthetics and identity. It has been a preoccupation of mine for most of my career to navigate the African experience and extract core truths with which to envisage a future. My love for the continent and its people has guided my palette to telling the best of who and what we are," said Mkize when describing  his 2015 collection "Reflections."

Remember your power. #BLACKMAGIC

A post shared by Loyiso Mkize (@loyisomkize) on

Wole Lagunju 

The Oshogbo-born painter's multicolored renderings offer a reinterpretation of traditional Yoruba cultural art forms. He describes himself as a "Painter and installation artist interested in challenging and critiquing notions of imperialistic cultural idioms."

Image via TONL.

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