We look back at the contemporary African visual artists who caught our eye this year.
This year, African visual artists have done their due diligence to carve their own path leading to creative autonomy, authentic storytelling and straight up greatness.
From photography and film, to even mixed-media art, the following have produced stand-out work that deserve their due accolades.
Feast your eyes on our nine favorite African visual artists of 2018 below.
Photo by Antoinette Isama.<p>South Africa's <strong>Athi Patra Ruga</strong> has taken on the task to be our generation's folklorist through his work. The tales he creates through sculpture, performance and tapestries are a critique of post-apartheid South Africa as well as the traumas that have come as a result of his country's colonial history. Most notably the work he presented at this year's <a href="https://www.okayafrica.com/armory-show-2018-african-artists-you-need-to-see/" target="_self"><strong>Armory Show</strong></a>, <em>The Beatification of Feral Benga</em>, pays tribute to the Senegalese dancer and model of the Harlem Renaissance, <strong>Francois "Feral" Benga</strong>. <a href="https://www.artsy.net/show/whatiftheworld-whatiftheworld-at-the-armory-show-2018" target="_blank">According to the series' press release</a>, Ruga puts forth questions of memory, identity and embodied knowledge by venerating Benga to the future queer archive of African modernism.</p>
'Fortia (7), 2017 by Keyezua. Image courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery.<p><strong>Keyezua</strong> is the Angolan-Dutch artist whose work is simply striking. Her work was well-received in the art fair circuit this year, where she presented at <a href="https://www.okayafrica.com/photographers-from-africa-diaspora-expose-complex-link-between-black-stereotypes-and-black-reality/" target="_self"><em>Refraction: New Photography of Africa and Its Diaspora</em></a> at <strong>Steven Kasher Gallery</strong>, <em>Nataal: New African Photography III </em>and more. Keyezua's most recent series, <em>Fortia</em>, <a href="http://www.dazeddigital.com/art-photography/article/39670/1/angolan-artist-keyezua-uses-the-power-of-photography-to-overcome-trauma" target="_blank">is inspired by</a> the loss of her father (who passed from diabetes and was an amputee) and the need to reimagine physical disability.</p>
By Fatoumata Diabaté, courtesy of Nataal.<p>Mali's own <strong>Fatoumata Diabaté's</strong> stunning black-and-white photographs are well-worth getting lost in. <em>Studio Photo de al Rue</em>, <a href="http://nataal.com/fatoumata-diabate/" target="_blank">her travelling street installation</a>, pays homage to the legendary photographers who have come before her, like <strong>Malick Sidibé</strong>, <strong>Samuel Fosso</strong> and even <strong>Seydou Keïta</strong>—who captured her parents in a portrait. She seeks to revive the vanguards' techniques and the feeling that come with immortalizing life's memories.</p>
Still from We Live in Silence (2017). Photo courtesy of Kudzanai Chiurai.<p>More and more young African artists are using visual art to take the grip colonialism still has on Africa's various social and political systems to task. Zimbabwe's <strong>Kudzanai Chiurai </strong>is the contemporary artist and activist whose series <em><a href="https://www.okayafrica.com/kudzanai-chiurai-mixed-media-series-challenges-post-colonial-society/" target="_blank">We Live in Silence</a></em> adds to the discourse. The mixed media series imagines what a true post-colonial African society looks like, including placing women at the forefront of the liberation.</p>
Photo by Louis Philippe de Gagoue, courtesy of the artist.<p><strong>Louis Philippe de Gagoue</strong> is the Cameroonian-Ivorian multi-hyphenate whose vibrant aesthetic crosses cultural bounds while staying true to his African roots. Although he took up photography <a href="https://www.okayafrica.com/nextgen-louis-philippe-de-gagoue-dynamic-photographer-thrives-off-of-spontaneity/" target="_blank">just 2 years ago</a>, his eye is quirky, yet unmatched. He remains inspired by human interaction, travel, history and culture.</p>
Photo by Stephanie Nnamani, courtesy of the artist.<p><strong>Teff Theory</strong> (aka <strong>Stephanie Nnamani</strong>), is the Nigerian visual artist and silent move-maker <a href="https://www.okayafrica.com/nextgen-teff-theory-use-of-color-leads-her-home/" target="_blank">whose deliberate study and use of color</a> will constantly draw you in. Her images draw from her experiences being a first-generation immigrant and the challenges she has faced reveling in black womanhood.</p>