The independent curator and founder of Lagos' Centre for Contemporary Art lost her battle with cancer.
A tree has fallen in the contemporary African art world.
"With a deep sense of loss, we regret to announce the passing of our Founder and Artistic Director of Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Olabisi Silva who passed away on Tuesday 12 February 2019," Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, the CCA's associate curator announced in a statement.
Silva marked 25 years working in the arts in 2017. She founded the CCA in 2007—an independent organization providing a platform for the development, presentation and discussion of contemporary visual art and culture. The Center also emphasized and cultivated collaboration among artists, curators, writers theorists with national and international organizations—promoting the development of professional curatorship in Nigeria and in West Africa.
@dejitoye @ccalagos This is a huge blow to visual art and the curatorial field in Nigeria. I respected Bisi Silva,… https://t.co/44SWOXBuzh— Molara Wood (@Molara Wood)1550004288.0
RIP #BisiSilva. Incredibly talented curator with a peculiar eye for amazing art. Indulged me so many times with my… https://t.co/hM49tCdQ4c— Alice Tomdio (@Alice Tomdio)1550009106.0
The CCA houses a collection of over 500 books, catalogues, journals and videos documenting Nigerian art and art from the continent, prioritizing rising new voices and building local histories of African art in living archives, Mail and Guardian adds.
As an independent curator, Silva served as artistic director at the 10th Bamako Encounters in Mali in 2015, co-curator of Senegal's Dak'Art Biennale in 2006 and juror at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.
In 2010, she also founded Àsìkò—a pan-African, roaming art school with a mission to intergrate theory and practice, seeking to form new models for radical art education with models that will foster reflective art and make it relevant to local communities. It currently has seven chapters in six African cities.
Sad to learn of the passing of Bisi Silva, who did so much strong curating work for African artists— Joe Penney (@Joe Penney)1550009680.0
Truly shattered to hear of #BisiSilva's passing after battling cancer. She was such a warm, witty and humble human… https://t.co/0SGv1u1wDr— Shari Ankomah (@Shari Ankomah)1550039661.0
"How can and do we move forward without the appropriate tools and systems for acquiring and disseminating knowledge? The same impetus that drove the founding of an art library at CCA, Lagos, was the catalyst for Àsìkò: to give access to information that could lead to meaningful dialogue, exchange and collaboration," Silva says of the art school in an interview with Frieze.
She was 57 years old.