From Disregard to Normal Art during the last 10 years, modern and contemporary African art has found an enthusiastic audience both on the continent and internationally. Significantly, this includes important institutions. Taking an interest in the viewpoint of the market and institutions enables the structural issues and initiated changes to be known and understood, and for the role of African artists and those working in this context to be situated. The vitality of artistic production is judged not just by its quality but also by the importance of its market.
Visibility and the market are intertwined with each another. Contemporary African art can be defined as the creation of the recent past and today, taking its sources from pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial periods. The precursors of the 1930s, like South Africa’s Ernest Mancoba (1904-2002) and the Nigerians Aina Onabolu (1882-1963) and Ben Enwonwu (1917-1994) are worth citing as they instigated change towards openness regarding classical arts, known as “primitive arts”.
The notion of contemporary art emerged in the 1960s, regrouping the diversity of artistic production on the continent. It consists of a large, variegated whole irrigated by three types of training: autodidact, including famous artist such as Moké from the Democratic Republic of Congo; studio and cooperative training, often informal, as in the case of Malian photographer
Malick Sidibé; and academic education (art schools and national and international universities), examples being Senegalese
painter Soly Cissé and Ghanians El Anatsui and Ablade Glover. African artists are producers of visual thoughts like anywhere
else. But the temporality1 is not the same in Africa due to the continent’s vastness and cultural complexity.
Global Director Art Basel
Why did you decide to include a talk about Africa’s art scenes in last year’s Conversations?
Because the developments within the African art scene are hugely interesting for us, our galleries and the collectors who come to our fair, and it ran in parallel to the first Venice Biennale curated by an African, Okwui Enwezor.
In the global art market, what margin do you think art by African artists represents?
I am probably not the best person to answer this question, but it seems fair to guess that the margin is still rather small. However, the international interest from curators and patrons about the art scenes across Africa is growing, as is the number of potential collectors across the continent, and so its market seemed poised for expansion.
What’s your perspective on the African market in terms of its artists, collectors and other professionals, and what how do you think this will develop?
As I have said, it is certainly a growing and developing market. We are delighted that this year in Basel a second gallery from South Africa, Stevenson, has moved into the very selective Galleries sector of the fair where they will be presenting the depth of their gallery program. In addition, we have a gallery from Tunisia, Selma Feriani, the first time we have an African gallery from outside of South Africa. And other galleries will be bringing artists from Africa to the show. The market is developing in such a dynamic way that we have appointed a VIP representative for Africa and we are again expecting a number of new collectors from Africa to visit the fair for the first time.
President of la Biennale di Venezia
“Our aim is to investigate how the tensions of the outside world act on the sensitivities and the vital and expressive energies of artists, on their desires and their inner song. One of the reasons the Biennale invited Okwui Enwezor as curator was for his special sensitivity in this regard”
However, its distinction and differentiation are situated in the freedom of creation, attitudes, production methods and hybridization2, like in the work of Kenyan-born, New York-based Wangechi Mutu. The bulk of the primary and secondarymarket is outside the Continent, mainly in the US and Europe, even though the offer and demand curves are intersectinglocally and an increase of buyers is being witnessed. The low number of galleries does not reflect the prolificacy of local production. The majority of actors, i.e. galleries, are beginning to gain international experience.
A handful of them, such as Goodman Gallery and Stevenson Gallery (both from Cape Town and Johannesburg), Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan) and Omenka Gallery (Lagos), are very active in international fairs. As central figures, artists are increasingly numerous and are being regularly invited everywhere in the world for various exhibitions, residencies and studies, such as the emerging Zimbabwean artist Gareth Nyandoro at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Beyond other advantages is the role of information technology and modern communication, internet and social networks being important levers because they profoundly modify and amplify the diffusion and access to African creation.
Long misunderstood and “despised”, contemporary art from Africa has eventually settled for the long-term on the globalized art scene. All the indicators come together. In order to understand the institutional acceleration of these last 10 years, it is necessary to go half a century backwards. Along this long path, several initiatives have set in place the plinth of the present enthusiasm, including Evelyn S. Brown’s pioneering book Africa’s Contemporary Arts and Artists (1967), published by the Harmon Foundation3. In 1979, the Moderne Kunst Aus Afrika exhibition from Gunter Péus’s collection at the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Berlin, curated by Sabine Hollburg and Gereon Sievernich, brought together 50 self-taught artists and more than 400 works, including Chéri Samba.
Director of Cape Town Art Fair
“Founded in 2013 the fair takes place each February. Produced by Fiera Milano Exhibitions Africa, the fair showcases contemporary art from Africa and around the world, including the African diaspora and new markets. The Cape Town Art Fair showcases a diversity of work that represents the forefront of cutting-edge innovation which brings contemporary art from Africa to the world and the world to Cape Town. 2015 was the third edition and attracted over 8,500 unique visitors, some visitors came more than once as the total number of visits was 14,000. The fair generated more than US$2.1million in sales. The fair saw greater interest in African and South African art from international collectors and institutions, as well as greater participation in the South African art market from galleries and institutions from the continent and abroad. Cape Town boasts a vibrant arts scene, driven by the top galleries on the African continent. Thanks to its diverse cultural heritage and geographic beauty, Cape Town is a compelling destination for both art world professionals and collectors alike”
The considerable impact of the legendary exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre”, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin4 in 1989 at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle de La Villette in Paris, is a collision of concepts and aesthetics. It was one of the rare exhibitions, along with “When Attitudes Become Form” by Harald Szeemann in 1969, to have changed the history of art in the 20th Century. Then in New York in 1991, Susan Vogel curated “Africa Explores: 20th-Century African“ Art at the Center for African Art and at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. In London in 1995, the Africa 95 festival featured two exhibitions: “Big City”, on the theme of enigma and imagination, showcasing works from Jean Pigozzi’s collection and curated by Julia Peyton-Jones and André Magnin at the Serpentine Gallery; and “Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa” at the
Whitechapel Art Gallery, conceived by cocurator Clémentine Deliss.
The rhythm and quality of these international exhibitions, with an increase of solo exhibitions, is significant, as evidenced,
among others, by the retrospectives in 2013 of the Sudanese painter Ibrahim El-Salahi and the Benin artist Meschac Gaba at Tate Modern in London. Prior to this, the retrospectives of South African artists William Kentridge and Santu Mofokeng took place at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
In 2015, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York dedicated an important exhibition to historical African photography,
titled “In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa”. A year later, the Grand Palais in Paris had a retrospective of Malian photographer Seydou Keïta (1921-2001). In 2007, Sidibé (1936-2016) was the first photographer in the history of the Venice Biennale to receive a Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at the 52nd edition. His genius had been crowned four years earlier, when he won the prestigious Hasselblad photography award.
Touria El Glaoui
Director of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
“Touria El Glaoui, Moroccan-born, London based Touria El Glaoui is the director of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which she founded in 2013. The fair serves as a platform dedicated to promoting African and Africa-related art. After
launching the fair in London, she expanded it to New York in 2015. In New York, 1:54 receives good support and interest from institutions and museums in terms of acquisitions for public collections and private collections with a public component”
For New York 2015, highest sales were reported in the brackets $6–12,000 and $12–20,000. Since London is our home, and 1:54 came into its own at Somerset House, our voice is stronger there, and we’ve established a firm collector base and audience; whereas with our edition in New York, we’re still getting there. That said, visitor figures have
increased and the press have been overwhelmingly positive. In 2015, we had 15,000 visitors in London and 5,000 visitors in New York.
Buyers were reported as being established collectors as well as regular clients. The majority of galleries forged relationships with new clients, collectors, and institutions during both editions. We’re interested in providing a sustainable space for complexity, plurality, and difference, and in highlighting a spectrum of perspectives from the African continent and its diaspora – hence the reference to the 54 countries. It is not in our interest to homogenize artistic practices, but the inverse: to challenge reductive stereotypes that claim a totalizing aesthetic.
In 2015, the Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor was the artistic director of the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, where 21 out of 136 artists and collectives that he showed were African. The market is no exception. One of the three dedicated fairs, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, inaugurated a New York edition in May 2015 following its success in London. And during its June 2015 edition, Art Basel hosted a series of debates about contemporary African art and more galleries were exhibiting African artists.
Until recently, the scene was dominated by patron-dealers, collector-dealers and pro-active galleries, then galleries whose illumination is restrained. The present configuration includes established brands in the global circuit, such as Galleria Continua which represents the Cameroon-born artist Pascale Martine Tayou and the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, or Marian Goodman Gallery which represents Kentridge. It is worth noting the attempts of leading galleries to work with African artists, such as Gagosian presenting Keita in 1997, or Robert Miller showing Barthelemy Toguo in 2009, or Tornabuoni presenting Soly Cissé in 2013. It is undeniable that this category of galleries elevates the value of these artists’ works to a higher price level.
This is the case of Mutu, represented by Barbara Gladstone and Victoria Miro, and of Ethiopian-born, New York-based artist Julie Mehretu, represented by Marian Goodman and White Cube. The secondary market has long hoped for the take-off of modern and contemporary art. The collector Jean Pigozzi, who has the largest collection of contemporary African art – numbering some 10,000 pieces – in the world, was a pioneer in experimenting with auction houses and organized a sale of works from his collection at Sotheby’s in 1999. Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been integrating modern and contemporary art
from Africa into their collections for several years, while Phillips launched thematic sales seven years ago.
The sole criterion should not be the total turnover of this market but its progression: the value of the artworks in the first and secondary markets has increased, according to the artist’s profile, by 200-400%. It’s a segment that has experienced a strong progression both in volume and value, “200% in the last five years”, according to Gilles Peppiatt, director of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Bonhams. Compared to other markets, the important validation of institutions is not symmetrical
to its market which, however progresses constantly without yet reaching stratospheric figures. The auction houses see their
efforts rewarded with million-dollar sales, such as the world record for Mehretu in 2015 at Christie’s for her painting Looking
Back to a Bright New Future (2003), which fetched US$3,468 million (including buyer’s premium). She occupies the first place in our 2015 ranking according to the methodology of Africa Art Market Reporttm and realized the most important turnover
at auction.5 In this crucial stage of the evolution of African art, the insufficiency of players and the deficit of education are the urgent matters to resolve.
The tools of knowledge and its functioning need to be strengthened. Our expertise in the field, its players and the local and worldwide ecosystem enables us to bring reliable data and analysis of the market. In order to judge an artwork in general, one refers to the history of art and diverse contextual elements. Concerning African artists, we establish criteria allowing them
Co-director/partner of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town and Johannesburg
“Federica Angelucci is one of four directors which jointly own Stevenson Gallery, which was founded in 2013. The gallery
has two spaces, one in Cape Town and another in Johannesburg. It participates in Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze London, Frieze New York and Paris”
Photo. Stevenson has an international exhibition programme with a particular focus on the region. In addition to exhibiting gallery artists, we have brought the work of people like Francis Alÿs, Rineke Dijkstra, Thomas Hirschhorn, Glenn Ligon and Walid Raad to South Africa, often for the first time. The gallery was conceived when two of the partners
saw Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11, and realized something new was afoot that did not yet have a home in South Africa. Our ambition was, and remains, to offer the best platform in the country for the art of our time.
Smaller works by younger artists can cost as little as US$2,200, while a major painting by someone like Barthélémy Toguo or Nicholas Hlobo can cost upwards of US$66,150. To borrow Harald Szeemann’s concept, our artists all create distinctly individual mythologies and influences range from art history to politics to pop culture.
Directly, perhaps 20% of our sales come from art fairs. But if we include indirect art fair sales to people we first meet at fairs but who acquire work down the line, that figure easily shoots up to 60%. Our supporters tend to be very informed about contemporary art globally and have a distinct sense of where our artists fit into the broader narrative of art
history. While some patrons are from our part of the world, many are not—and their collections often reflect their cosmopolitan outlook.
to be evaluated aesthetically by those who receive them. Thus, the receiver appreciates them better. However, when we look
at this art with “westernized” certainties, numerous nuggets pass us by. If one wants to understand and feel these modes
of expression that are relatively new for a fair number of art lovers, the context of production needs to be taken into account.
For example, the commercial question is inherent to the conception and realization of an artwork for the majority of self-taught artists and those trained in studios or cooperatives. An international career should not be the only criterion because certain artists do not necessarily wish to pursue one but nonetheless produce quality work, which can be appreciated if one takes a closer look.
The context of the completely reconfigured global art market provides an historic opportunity for African artists to integrate
efficiently. The great institutional (non-commercial and commercial) indicators have demonstrated their willingness to pursue
the development of African art. The massive structural investments6, both direct and indirect, that continue to flow into this
segment can only produce mid and long-term results. These aspects are explored later in this report and that clearly reflect
the decline of spontaneity and progress in the implementation of a structured, legible market.
These investments have resulted in a vast and palpable enthusiasm that can make this art definitively “normal” in the global
network. It still needs to be made ordinary, which seems to be happening.
Art Fair Report
1:54 (London and New York)
Established collectors as well as regular clients. The majority of galleries forged relationships with new clients, collectors, and institutions during both editions.
Highest sales brackets US$6,000 – 12,000
and US$12,000 – 20,000 (New York)
5,000 (New York)
Cape Town Art Fair
Collectors, curators, cultural institutions, public bodies, artists, art-lovers and the general public
8,548 (unique visitors)
Strauss & Co
4 dedicated sales
An increase of 16.83% from 2014
Sell-through rate 81.7 %
Local and international collectors
21 new artist records, mostly for modern and contemporary Jacob Pierneef had a 94.4% sell through rate and Irma Stern had 87.5% Alexis Preller’s The Creation of Adam I,1968, sold R8 526 000 (US$602,893). Highest price achieved at auction for Preller in South Africa. Records achieved for Penny
Siopis Hunting and Nature Scene, triptych (1987), sold for R1 136 800 (US$85,176); Robert Hodgins
J’accuse (1995) sold for R2 500 960 (US$200,998); Deborah Bell, Sentinel III (2004) sold for R886 704 (US$71,667) and Norman Catherine, Hotel (1997) sold for R545 664 (US$38,585). Bonhams 5 dedicated sales
US$5,724,610 -46,5% from 2014
Sell-through rate 73%
They tend to be people who are fortunate enough to have made money in business and some people who have inherited it.
Irma Stern, Arab in black (1939) sold for US$1,074,153 Ben Enwonwu, Anyanwu
Simplified sold for US$94,984
Africa Now El Anatsui, Al Haji (1990) sold for US$186,781
South African sale Jacob Pierneef, Bush camp of van Wouw (1918) sold for US$186781
2 dedicated sales
An increase of 10.5% from 2014
Sell-through rate 65%
Mix of both Nigerian and international clients: healthy group of Nigerian
collectors, collectors from other countries in West Africa, UK, Europe, and USA.
Ben Enwonwu, Untitled (1976)
Estimate: US$40,000 – US$50,000
Sold for US$112,500
El Anatsui, Zata (2015)
Estimate: US$75,000 – US$90,000
Sold for US$77,000
Yusuf Grillo, Truly Hijab? (2011-2012)
Estimate: US$50,000 – US$60,000
Sold for US$55,000
Ablade Glover, Female Profile (2013)
Estimate: US$11,000 – 12,500
Sold for US$25,875
The top sales of the year indicate a steady general trend of auctions, with the works of master modern
artists Ben Enwonwu and Yusuf Grillo fetching top prices, along with contemporary artist El Anatsui. These three artists have cemented their market value and are in continuous demand. In addition, Nigerian artist Rom Isichei and Ghanian artist Ablade Glover reflect the growing interest in the contemporary as a viable asset.
Isamîla Fatt y, 2016 Individuals
132 x 20 cm
Recent Initiatives & Investments
Theo Danjuma started his collection in London in 2008 when he was in his early twenties. The son of the Nigerian General and businessman Theophilus Danjuma, he has acquired over 400 artworks by over 100 artists and houses his collection in Surrey, England. The collection includes works by international artists such as Gilbert & George and Antony Gormley along with upcoming talents such as Nicholas Hlobo from South Africa and Sammy Baloji from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The contemporary art collection is broad in scope whilst also reflecting Danjuma’s family ties to the African continent.
In 2007, I started going to galleries with a friend of mine, initially focusing on younger galleries showing mostly street art. From there I went down the rabbit hole and slowly graduated to more serious contemporary art. I will always be grateful to White Cube, who were very welcoming, giving me catalogues to read and taking me on studio visits when other galleries didn’t take me seriously because of my age. The first piece that I bought by an African artist was probably a photograph by Pieter Hugo.
Contemporary art speaks to our time and we live in such a globalized time that any kind of geographic focus would feel arbitrary and insincere. I am very proud of the little Julie Mehretu drawing that I own; the work of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye speaks to me in a very direct and personal way; Nicholas Hlobo is a wonderful artist as are Zander Blom and Neil Beloufa. It has been a privilege to get to know Neil personally and support his shows at the ICA London.
The last piece that I acquired was a 1990s black-and-white photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans of Isa Genzken. It’s a really wonderful piece and highlights the great bond and respect the two artists have for one another. I mostly focus on people I already own and try and go in depth where I can. There are a number of artists – Tillmans is a good example – where the critical reception is way ahead of the market. For a while my focus was on younger artists. But I am learning to see that art history has a long arc so I have been revisiting artists in the generation above me like Isa Genzken, Albert Oehlen and Kathryn Andrews.
Stevenson in Cape Town and Johannesburg and Jack Shainman in New York are the obvious galleries for finding works by African artists or with African origins. But often you’ll find galleries happen to have one artist with a connection to Africa, like Lynette Yiadom-Boaky at Corvi-Mora in London or Neil Beloufa at Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles.
Stephen Tio Kauma
Stephen Tio Kauma is a Uganda collector of contemporary art from Africa who is based in Cairo. He’s a strong supporter of the Kampala Biennale, which is run by Daudi Karungi and whose 2016 edition was curated by Elise Atangana.
My interest in art began in my childhood because my father liked to collect eclectic artworks for our home. His job involved a large amount of travel around Africa and so our house had pieces of art from different African places. I love the uniqueness, vibrancy and message behind this type of art because it captures the depth and peculiarity of our African heritage.
I am very proud of being African and so these attributes resonate with me. My position as human resources director at Afreximbank, an African Export-Import Bank headquartered in Cairo, has enabled me to travel extensively around Africa over the last seven years. When I am in other countries, I try to visit art galleries and contemporary art exhibitions if time allows. The beauty of the different types of art that I have seen on these trips has given me a chance to collect. Each piece that I buy takes me
back to a particular time, place and experience.
I have art from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Gabon, Tanzania, Egypt and the Seychelles. They tend to be medium-priced works by upcoming contemporary artists. My two latest purchases are a signed lithograph by Benon Lutaaya, a Uganda-born artist based in Johannesburg, and a watercolor painting by Lioda Conrad, an artist based in Cape Town. I have my eye on two Ugandan artists, Taga Nuwagaba and Nuwa Nnyanzi, among others
Black Collectors Forum
Investment fund in Johannesburg,
The Black Collectors Forum (BCF) was launched in 2014 by Tshepiso Mohlala, director of the !Kauru African Contemporary Art project in Johannesburg. The BCF claims to be the only platform in South Africa that is targeting new audiences, notably affluent and young black professionals. It aims to enhance their access to contemporary art through what it describes as “culture broking” events to help first time buyers and introduce them to the purchasing of art.
The BCF’s launch event, which targeted affluent black individuals and industry professionals, was organised by Andile Magengelele, an independent curator and art broker, who invited several speakers: Makgati Molebatsi (art collector and board member of The Bag Factory Artist Studios), Dr Oupa Morare
(Collector and director of Becomo Art Centre), Michelle Constant (CEO of Business Arts South Africa), Ruarc Peffers (former senior specialist in contemporary art at Strauss & Co. auctioneers) and Sam Nhlengethwa (an artist and collector).
The incentive behind the BCF reflects the change in post-apartheid South Africa that has led to a growing black middle-class with greater disposable income. The BCF was established to nurture this generation of new black art collectors and encourage them to invest in African contemporary art.
A key objective is to broaden art audiences and potential markets for appreciating, acquiring and investing in visual arts. This follows on from how the !Kauru African Contemporary Art project – a platform for African contemporary artists and cultural practioners – seeks to change perceptions
of the continent through conversations about contemporary art, both in Africa and internationally, in order to stimulate cultural exchange.
Behind the BCF and !Kauru is the belief that black entrepreneurs should be involved in their country’s art scene. Indeed, the website features a quote from South African artist David Koloane saying that black African entrepreneurs will need to play a major role in the complexities of the art market.
Ceo First Finance,Abidjan
Please could you tell us the names of some of the African artists in your collection?
The main artists are Ablade Glover from Ghana, Ludovic Fadaïro from Benin, Christophe Sawadogo and Vivien Tapsoba from Burkina Faso, Ulliette Balliet from Togo, and Moné Bou, Youssouf Bath, Augustin Kassi, Soro Péhouet, Bamogo Séni, Aboudia, Blacaus, Samir Jacques Stenka from Ivory Coast.
When did you start acquiring art and which were the first artists whose works you acquired?
It was in 2005 and they were essentially young artists who had been at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts of Abidjan. I discovered their works through Houkami Guyzagn, who was then a young gallerist representing emerging artists from Ivory Coast. This allowed me, when I opened my micro-finance
business in 2009, to create an off-shoot structure called West African Private Equity (WAP’ART), focused on negotiating and being an intermediary for the acquisition of art.
Do you envisage acquiring more works by African artists?
Of course, especially beyond the West African region. We intend to look at artists from Central Africa and South Africa etc.
Which artists are you interested in that are not already represented in your collection?
Artists from the Ivory Coast diaspora such as Ouattara Watt and Ernest Düku; Ivory Coast pioneers such as Michel Kodjo, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and James Houra; the Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté; the Burkina Faso artist Ky Siriki; and numerous other Senegalese artists and perhaps artists from North Africa.
What do you think of the market boom for contemporary art from Africa?
This boom reflects the rise of the middle class, which is boosted by Africans of the diaspora that are returning to the continent with an awareness about art.
As a financier, what are you doing to contribute to the boom of contemporary art from Ivory Coast?
In my micro-finance company, for example, we accept as safe-havens gold, real estate, company shares quoted on the stock exchange and artworks even though artists’ quotas are not established in rigid ways. In this sense, we have experimented with the creation of a secondary market. Specifically, early on we acquired artworks that we considered to be in good order. We documented them then we later sold them for double if not triple the price for which we bought them in order to acquire more works by better-quoted artists.
Collection Manager, Scheryn Art Collection, Cape Town
The Scheryn Art Collection Fund in Cape Town was founded in 2015 by two entrepreneurs, Herman Steyn and Dabing Chen. It purchases artworks by artists from Africa and the African diaspora for collectors who receive monetary and non-monetary returns.
The Scheryn Art Collection was set up as the first dedicated art collection in Africa to provide collectors with the opportunity to contribute to the growth of African art. Art from the African continent is becoming increasingly popular and the next five-10 years will see greater demand. Our collection is a collaboration between experienced art market specialists and professional investment advisors who have a uniquely strong appreciation for art. Through various support initiatives, Scheryn will nurture young artistic talent and preserve the cultural legacy of African art whilst providing collectors with aesthetic rewards and long-term capital appreciation.
We believe in the strength and cultural diversity of the continent’s artistic output and how it challenges the established norm of contemporary art. A global platform has arisen for African artists to present their works to an international audience and artists who are engaging in traditional and cutting-edge techniques are becoming increasingly sought after. Locally established artists yet to gain international recognition are the most interesting to observe.
This is due to demand from international expatriate communities longing for artists from their homelands and global buyers looking for new trends. There has been a price appreciation of African art in the secondary market following growing interest in contemporary African art in the primary market. The 1:54 art fair expansion into New York and The Armory Show’s recent focus on the African continent are prime examples of this.
The growth of the Ghanaian art market has also caught our eye. Currently we have three collectors. Scheryn looks for collectors who share our passion for the sustainability of the African art market. They
realize that joining the collection is a long-term commitment as we are not involved in speculation,
flipping or trading of art. We look for collectors who are unsure where to start or do not have
experience in African contemporary art. We also look for people who already have collections but
who might not have sufficient time or money to manage them properly. We provide an opportunity
to benefit from the aesthetic and financial return of their collection without the administrative worries.
The opening of the Museum Mohammed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat, Morocco,
in 2014 and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town in 2017 are important
developments. To have two museums that meet international museum standards in Northern Africa
and Southern Africa is a great step on the path to cementing Africa’s place in the art world. This will
ensure that the surge in interest in African art will be sustainable, not a fleeting fascination. However,
the impact of Brexit will be hard to ignore as London is a large market for African Art. It will take two or three years to see what influence Brexit will have.
Lasri,1998 untitled oil on canvas
100 cm x 81 cm
court. the artist
Co-founder of Art Vantage PCC Limited investment fund
Serge Tiroche co-founded the Tiroche DeLeon Collection with Russ DeLeon in 2011 with the objective of focusing on contemporary art markets across the developing world. The collection is owned by Art Vantage PCC Limited, an investment fund for investors. Through offices in Israel and Gibraltar, it concentrates on Africa, Latin America, South Asia, the Middle East, the Far East and Eastern Europe.
We made a strategic decision to focus on contemporary art from emerging economies for three principle reasons. The first is economic; we found them to have better long-term investment prospects. The second is personal; we are more interested in exploring new cultures and identify more with art that has tradition and craft embedded. The third is social; with the budget we had in mind we could do very little in the developed world whereas in the developing one, we could be a significant platform to promote new artists and greater dialogue and exchange with the west.
We have six regional sub-portfolios that make up the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. The net asset value of the fund we manage, Art Vantage PCC Limited, is driven to a large extent by the performance of the artworks in the collection. Our investors are usually experienced high-net-worth individuals or family offices that are ready to invest a minimum of $500,000. Some have already had exposure to art but generally not in these markets. Others are new to art collecting/art investment and are interested in the access, education, artwork borrowing, financial diversification and lifestyle enhancement that we offer.
Africa, as one of the oldest art-making cultures that has influenced generations of western artists, seemed undervalued and underexposed. It represents approximately 15% of our total investments. Of the six sub collections, the African portfolio has been one of the best performing. The performance of the artworks, gross of fees and holding costs, increased by 42.8% in 2013, 10% in 2014 and 5.41% in 2015.
We enjoyed huge returns in 2012-2013 primarily thanks to the increase in value of important artists such as El Anatsui and William Kentridge. In the last two years, the price levels reached for these works is such that the rate of increase in value must slow down to more realistic levels, as can be evidenced by the declining performance.
Gallerist in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
French-born Cécile Fakhoury opened her eponymous gallery in 2012 in Abidjan.
The gallery’s mission is to promote contemporary art in the African continent by developing a locally-based dynamic structure. A space entirely dedicated to contemporary artwork exhibitions, it is a place for discoveries, exchanges and encounters. The gallery shows a new exhibition every two months and aims to broadcast the work of its artists abroad, in order to connect the African continent with the rest of the world and to reach a
The gallery aims at promoting a better visibility of contemporary art in Africa and more specifically in the Ivory Coast by curating top-notch exhibitions. Cultural initiatives exist here but are few and far between, especially when it comes to commercial initiatives. My background working for galleries and auction houses in France and the US motivated me to develop an activity in that field when I moved to Abidjan.
With gallery actively supporting the production of artworks, the artists now have access to with a better range of material. Depending on the artwork, our price ranges between US$890 and US$55,125. The quality of the work had always been there but the resources and means were possibly lacking before. The majority of our clientele is made up of foreign collectors. However, we are seeing an increasing number of Ivorian natives following our work and supporting our artists, which is very encouraging.
From the beginning, one of our main goals was for our artworks to enter the local market. It is a real source of satisfaction when we make a sale knowing that the artwork will remain on the territory. In spite of 10 complex years, the Ivory Coast remains a crossroads in West Africa. Abidjan is a flourishing city with a curious public, eager to receive a dynamic cultural scene and there is a growing interest for the contemporary art market here. When I started, I did not have the means to evaluate the possible success of the initiative but the gallery rapidly gained recognition.
Nearly four years later, the results are very satisfying. During the first few months, we were already receiving
nearly 600 visitors at the opening evenings. We also customarily host school visits for each of our exhibitions in order to raise awareness from a young age. Over the past year, after participating in three fairs and two biennales, we have estimated art fairs to represent a third of our annual sales. We foresee a considerable increase for the year to come as we intend to participate in five fairs.
Director of Tiwani Contemporary, London
Founded in 2011, Tiwani Contemporary works with international contemporary artists. Tiwani Contemporary exhibits and represents international emerging and established artists, focussing on Africa and its diaspora. The gallery presents work through its exhibition programme and participation in art fairs. In addition to its commercial activities, Tiwani
Contemporary runs a public programme, Art Connect, supported by the A.G. Leventis Foundation. This provides a platform for discussing contemporary artistic practice through publications, talks and projects.
I grew up in Lagos Nigeria and that is where a personal interest was developed that eventually lead to the birth of Tiwani. The visual language I grew up around was that of art from Nigeria added to that my family collected some of that art and from a young age I was lucky to meet and interact with some of the artists.
I was living and working in the UK and was at a point that I was looking into my next professional steps. I wanted to launch a project that involved something I was deeply interested in and something that would be an interesting additional to the London art scene. In addition I envisioned this project would have along with the commercial element a strong element of collaboration, sharing of knowledge and experience. Indeed Tiwani in Yoruba loosely translates it belongs to us, it is ours. At this point I would like to mention that Bisi Silva the founder and director of CCA Lagos played a part in my taking the decision in launching the gallery and remains a mentor and trusted friend.
Along with the personal element just mentioned there was also the understanding that Tiwani would be occupying an important «space» and that visibility was something high on the agenda as was the understanding that an important space would be occupied and thus care would be taken in terms in term of the gallery’s internal and external associates, the artist stable created, how the gallery programme would develop and why a public programme was introduced early on. Finally there was a business element that came into play and the understanding that Tiwani would be an exiting challenge that if done properly and with hard work it could be a solid successful addition to the London and international art scene.
The long term vision is for tiwani to remain part of this community for the long term, to grow, to built strong and long lasting careers for our artists and to extend its public programme activities. For this reason Tiwani’s primary focus will be artists practices because in the end that is what counts. The average price varies between US$ 1-100,000. We work with an international collector base whose primary interests are contemporary art practices. In addition some of our collectors are looking into creating a truly global collection and thus our area of specialization is of interest. We also work with collectors that are particularly interested in young and emerging artists and find our program exciting in that respect.
It’s hard to differentiate because collectors you meet at fairs eventually become gallery sales so approximately let’s say 60% gallery and 40% art fairs. I haven’t noticed any sharp changes in terms of creative expression per se but I have noticed more and more artists interested in exploring a wide range of media from performance to sound to video and so on. Additionally I have noticed that artists from the south are increasingly more interested in south to south conversations, are in a mind set that is at once local as it is global and does not look north to initiate a conversation.
Corporate Collections In Art
A Global View
The activity of corporations and businesses collecting artifacts dates back centuries. During the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century prominent trades and mercantile houses began to adorn their business premises with artworks. Siena’s Monte dei Paschi bank gave the practice its earliest corporate reference. The Popes, Medicis, Borgias, Sforzas and other Renaissance potentates, as well as 18th-19th century European royal houses, saw art and artistic splendor as important facets of their wealth and power.
They allocated huge resources to patronize the visual and plastic arts. Today, the Vatican, Florence, Venice, Rome, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Budapest and St-Petersburg radiate with art treasures that underscore the prominence and sway that art and artists held in society in the bygone eras. Today, about 600 companies worldwide have art collections, mostly contemporary. While insurance titan AXA was, arguably, the first corporate to collect in an extensive and systematic manner, the Deutsche Bank, Union Bank of Switzerland, which has over 35,000 works, Microsoft, Russia’s Gazprombank and Japan’s Shiseido, the world’s fifth largest cosmetic company, have become prominent in the movement, particularly in the last two decades. Some of the companies, such as Italian fashion house Prada, and Bernard Arnault’s Louis Vuitton Foundation have constructed architect-appointed gallery/ museum spaces to showcase their impressive collections.
Africa Joins Corporate Art Collection Movement There is an unbroken thread in history of art being the quintessence of human creativity. In each era fine art has occupied a central role in human affairs; challenging us, daring us, surprising us, annoying us, going against convention, nonetheless, enriching us infinitely. Africa, its ancient greatness and earlier development pathways stymied by colonialism, has vestiges revealing tremendous creativity and artistic excellence over centuries, as attested by the Akan, Baule, Benin, Chokwe, Dogon, Ife, Nok, Oyo, Zimbabwe and other civilizations.However, contemporary Africa, just like other regions of the world outside Western Europe and North America, cannot be said to have a significant presence in the surge in the modern-day corporate art collection movement.
What pertains, and is steadily growing in fashion, is that some CEOs of family or listed companies, newly-minted commercial banks, rich individuals, and increasingly, middle class professionals, have started acquiring artworks in a regular manner. They are building collections to adorn the walls of their workplace and residences.
By Osei G Kof i
The Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and the Nation Media Group (NMG), both in Kenya, had modest corporate collections of contemporary art dating back to the 1970s and early 1980s. In that sense they were pioneers even on the global stage. The CBA and NMG collections were started by their then expatriate CEOs. Sadly, subsequent
CEOs during 1990s-early 2000s, Kenyanborn, didn’t have the same love for art or the bug of collecting.
The good news is today “younger” or more recent corporate chiefs in Kenya and across East Africa, such as Tanzania’s media mogul Reginald Mengi of the IPP Group, Kenya’s SK Macharia of Royal Media Services, Michael Joseph and Bob Collymore both of Safaricom, Patrick Quarcoo and William Pike both of the Radio Africa Media Group, have realized that art can add to a company’s image and prestige.
It must be emphasized that at this stage the collections are personal even if some of the pieces are used to adorn the corporate office. Quarcoo and Pike in particular collect partly as part of their commitment to support East African artists, many of whom struggle to make ends meet. Quarcoo a while ago told a group of East African artists who met him at his Nairobi office that his company “took its corporate social responsibility seriously” and that buying art and growing his collection was both a personal passion and a commitment to the development of art in East Africa and on the continent. Also notable in this category of art collection as personal enjoyment, company prestige and corporate social responsibility pursuit are the Mauritius-registered Kenya-based Catalyst Principal Partners Private Equity firm, the Centum Investments Company Ltd, both in Nairobi and Van Rampelberg Designs.
All three are headed by long-time art lovers who in recent years have embarked on a more systematic manner in collecting, even seeking out professional and curatorial advice. The numbers of acquired works involved here are quite modest, hardly more than a couple hundred artifacts in most collections. Concrete numbers are hard to come by. Collectors, mega or small-time, demur when asked to cite figures of their artifacts.
The reluctance to divulge the volume of artworks in one’s collection is ingrained worldwide, and not only in Africa. In Europe and North America the only time the public gets to know the extent of a private or corporate collection is when the owners place them in museums or galleries for public access.
In East Africa Kenya’s Centum Chairman Chris Kirubi, Allan Donovan formerly of African Heritage and Marc Van Rampelberg are perhaps the more experienced in the collection movement, with personal and close relationship with Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan artists from whom they buy directly. Kirubi, American-born Donovan, Belgian-born van Rampelberg and Ugandan-born Paul Kavuma, the Catalyst Principal CEO, are all greatly admired collectors for the representational sweep and quality of the art they own. Again here, concrete numbers are hard to come by.
My take is, as the movement progresses, leading to publications of catalogues, publicity flyers and public showcasing of the collections in galleries, updated figures will be given by the owners.
Quarcoo, Pike, Kirubi, Macharia, Kavuma, Joseph, Mengi and others hold some of the most eye-popping masterpieces by older and middle-aged East African artists, such as Jack Katarikawe, Wanyu Brush, Sane
Wadu, Eunice Wadu, Rashid Diab, Sophie Walbeoffe, Joni Waite, Nani Croze, Mary Colis, Edward Tingatinga, George Lilanga, Rajabu Chiwaya, Kivuthi Mbuno, Theresa Musoke, Annabelle Wanjiku among others.
While Africa might be a latecomer on the global scene, and while the numbers of artworks involved to date cannot be said to be all that impressive in international comparative terms, dimensions that stand out in Africa include: energy, vibrancy, quality and exuberant innovative solutions. These are keys for a tremendous future for corporate art collection practice on the Mother Continent.
Abidjan by Mimi Errol
In the absence of an environment favourable to the creation of a competitive, buoyant contemporary art market in Ivory
Coast, such as financial incentives, a true contemporary art museum and clearly defined valuation of artworks and of artists, the involvement of large financial establishments in the art scene can be seen as a form of corporate social responsibility.
One of the most prominent is the BICICI subsidiary of BNP Paribas Group. Since 2003, it has been organising an annual art exhibition, titled “BICICI Friend of the Arts”, in its Abidjan headquarters. The exhibition is sponsored by a leading figure in Ivory Coast and features an accompanying catalogue. Then there is the Société Générale de Banque, a subsidiary of Société Générale –one of the world’s largest bank groups. Not only does it organise exhibitions, mainly of established artists from Ivory Coast such as Kablan Cyprien’s 40 years of painting in its Abidjan headquarters, but it innovates in exhibiting a different painting every day during its internal seminars to help young contemporary artists from Ivory Coast become established. Meanwhile, banking establishments such as Access Bank (formerly known as Omnifinance), NSIA Bank, Banque Atlantique and its subsidiaries BACI and COBACI make huge acquisitions by young creators from Ivory Coast to adorn their branches.
All of these initiatives have allowed galleries and young artists from Ivory Coast to resist different political/military crises that Ivory Coast has known.
Managing Director of Terra Kulture-Mydrim Gallery (TKMG)
Banks have the biggest corporate collections in Nigeria including Citibank, access bank and Gtbank Most Banks collect based on the taste of the CEO at that point in time so it is often a mixed collection. The younger CEOs have a mix of contemporary and masters works whilst the older generation CEO focused mostly on Masters works.
by El Hadji Malick Ndiaye
Collecting practices have developed in the last few years in Senegal. Different forms of collecting practices are developing and are being sustained for very diverse reasons. An historical, public and political practice exists. Through this, works enter into the national heritage, following provisions taken by the decree n° 67-034 on 11 January 1967 relative to the artistic, private domain of the state. Managing this is incumbent upon the Directorate for Cultural Heritage under the protection of the ministry responsible for culture.
This collecting practice is encouraged by the 1% law, which involves a minimum of resources being allocated to the decoration of public buildings. On the occasion of the 15th Francophonie Summit organised by the Republic of Senegal from 29-30 November 2014, the state bought works by 50 artists to decorate the International Conference Centre of Diamniadio. In the same year, the family of the Senegalese artist Iba Ndiaye donated 145 works to the Republic of Senegal, which were registered in the heritage conserved by the DPC – Christian Democrat Party?
Collecting practices are equally popular with private companies and banks. This is how a collection was developed by Eiffage Senegal, which is very dynamic in its support of Senegalese artists. Banks operating in Senegal collect contemporary art; this is the case of the Central Bank of Western African States (BCEAO) and the International Bank for Trade and Industry of Senegal (BICIS) of the BNP Paribas Group. Over the last few years, the BICIS has been developing a collection composed mainly of contemporary works by Senegalese artists, of which the total value was estimated on 20 January 2015 at XOF 82.29 m Senegalese francs (US$0.14m). This study, carried out by Omar Diack (director of Typic Arts Gallery) and Fodé Camara (director of Tawfeex Design), inventoried 45 signatures, of which 37 were men, three were women and five were anonymous.
The diversity of techniques used in the artworks was inequal: a majority of 32 were paintings on canvas, and there were 17 paintings on paper, three sculptures, three photographs, two clipframes, three tapestries and two ceramics. This study did not take into account the artworks in the two branches in the capital: BICIS-Prestige and BICIS-Roume. Besides these important institutional funds, private collections are spread over diverse socio-professional categories, including lawyers, architects, ministers, entrepreneurs, teachers, businessmen and civil servants. They are also being developed across several layers of the population, particularly among the middle class. Although collecting might have believed to be confined to the most affluent layers of society, according to the latest trends it is generally happening in households with very modest incomes.
The reasons behind this evolution are complex. While the market for clip-frames found a local clientele partly thanks to the social and religious imaginary ideas that the objects conveyed, there are several sociological reasons for the current cultural consumption of contemporary art. These are at the intersection between a history of tastes, cultural evolution and a trajectory of mentalities (snobbery, mimicry, the need to belong to a social class and to identify with an elite etc). These reasons explain the diversity of collectors that we find in the field. The majority accumulate works whereas a minority distinguishes itself by a pronounced taste in their choices.
Among the latter, two categories can be identified. In the first category, the names of artists are carefully researched and purchased once they are esteemed by history and the community of peers and professionals. These systematic collections have two common characteristics. First, they are very attached to the great names in the history of art in Senegal as well as to its great periods. Secondly, this method is less focused on the discovery of talents than on a capitalisation of commercial success in a strategy of value-creation and towards possible financial ends. This type of collection is often exhibited in places with great visibility and consigned to catalogues expressly conceived with this in mind.
In the second category, we find collectors who follow the whims of their taste, looking out for the latest and most original creations. By collecting according to their desires and without worrying about the names of artist or commercial aims, these collectors are often true art lovers or art critics for whom the risk factor is meaningless. Accordingly, it should be remembered that in Senegal collecting practices translate deep socio-cultural changes. They reflect a respositioning of the arts in social life and an articulation of this within the visual arts culture, which only had institutional recognition beforehand.
Curator of the art collection, Société Générale, Casablanca
Mohamed Rachdi is an artist, critic, curator, scholar and is responsible for cultural sponsorship of Société Générale, a subsidiary of the French bank, in Casablanca, Morocco.
I’ve been responsible for Société Générale’s collection, its exhibitions and conservation since 2008. I conceive and produce exhibitions, organize meetings and debates, and publish books. My role is about conserving, enhancing and animating the bank’s collection, which has 1,300 artworks. There are two exhibition spaces: a 600 m2 space in the atrium of the bank’s headquarters, where we often have solo presentations by contemporary artists, and a separate 1,200 m2 gallery. In 2013, we had an exhibition, 100 Years of the Société Générale in Morocco in the gallery. Since 2014, we’ve had a two-year long exhibition, Connexion: Quatre Regards, which traces the history of art in Morocco through four outlooks: Orientalist, Singular, Modern and Contemporary.
I prolonged the duration of these exhibitions so that people could visit several times and so that school groups could come. We also have shorter exhibitions every December that last one and a half or two months. I’ve organised two other exhibitions, Corps et Figures du Corps on bodies and figures of bodies and Nature et Paysage on nature and landscape.Works from the collection are also exhibited in the bank’s headquarters in Casablanca.
When I arrived at Société Générale, I wanted to extend the collection beyond just Moroccan artists. In my exhibitions, I show and integrate international artists and different styles, generations and categories. I want to introduce new artistic practices, young artists and foreigners. If I do an exhibition with 70 artists, 20 of them can be foreign. I proposed to launch an annual art prize but the proposal wasn’t retained. But I initiated the producing and diffusing of artists’ works, which was not the case before, and paying artists to make interventions. I also introduced video, installations and performance.
I want to decentralize Morocco’s art scene because everything happens in Casablanca, Tangier and Marrakech and there’s not much happening outside of these three cities. So I’m going to organize an exhibition of work by French travel photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand in the Marrakech branch of Société Générale. My aim is to encourage Société Générale to decentralize a bit and open small spaces in different branches in Morocco. I’ve asked them if we can open an exhibition space in the town of Tetouan in the north of the country and I’d like to do something in Oujda in northeastern Morocco, near the border with Algeria.
I’m also working with the French Institute in Morocco so that a reduced part of our exhibitions can be shown in their spaces, including their space in Meknès in the north of Morocco. Culture in Morocco has developed a lot through the patronage of companies because the state hasn’t played an important role in culture and in the constitution of collections. It’s private companies, notably banks, that have really invested in this. For instance, another bank building a collection is Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank. I think there are 200 artists in their collection.
Head of Art & Culture at Fondation AWB of Attijariwafa Bank
Ghita Triki is head of art and culture at the foundation of Attijariwafa Bank in Morocco. In 1995, she joined the BCM (Banque Commerciale du Maroc), which later merged with Wafabank to form Attijariwafa Bank, and in 1996 she inaugurated its Actua art space for exhibitions in the bank’s headquarters in Casablanca. Since the merger and formation of Attijariwafa Bank in 2003, she has been leading the “Art & Culture” part of Attijariwafa Bank’s foundation.
My role is to develop the group’s cultural patronage strategy, the priority mission of which is the visibility of the artists and the accessibility of art to the largest number of people, especially the young, to raise awareness of the bank’s role in social responsibility. The bank’s commitment to art dates back nearly 30 years and constitutes an incalculable heritage and source of sharing and creativity for our collaborators, audience, partners, clients and students.
The painting collection is the spine of this. At the foundation, we organise guided visits, studio visits and conferences and produce publications. I am also involved in organizing an educational programme, ‘Academy of Arts, on a national and local level which reaches hundreds of students from modest backgrounds. It was initiated in 2009 and includes contemporary art, writing and multimedia for students at state schools for a period of three years.
The collection is the combined collections of the former BCM (Banque Commerciale du Maroc) and the former Wafabank, which merged in 2004. Both started in the mid 1970s at the initiative of Abdelaziz Alami, president of the BCM, and Abdelhak Bennani, president of Wafabank, who both believed in the importance of art for the company and the community beyond the profitable investment that artworks can constitute.
In the 1970s, the purchases were individualized. The collection developed more in the 1980s, coinciding with the favorable economic context, the opening of galleries and the artistic boom, which reflected the global movement of Moroccan intellectuals after the Independence of Morocco in 1956. Between 1980 and 2007, works were commissioned by Farid Belkahia, Hassan El Glaoui and Abdelkébir Rabi. We also acquired Jacques Majorelle’s painting, Les Alamates (1931).
The collection is a panorama of the pictorial creation of Morocco from the beginning of the 20th century to the 2000s, with historical depth, diversity of trends and generations. It comprises works by major artists and is focused on Abstract Expressionism from the 1950s and abstract painters from the 1970s-1990s. Moroccan artists constitute the majority of the collection but there are also Orientalist paintings by French artists.
Since the bank’s development in Africa, works by emerging artists from the African continent and diaspora, who have been discovered during the Dakar Biennale, have been acquired. There are nearly 2,000 paintings and multiples by artists including Ahmed Cherkaoui, Jilali Gharbaoui, Mohamed Chebâa, Mohamed Melehi and Chaïbia Tallal, and contemporary artists such as Amina Benbouchta, Meryem El Alj, Hicham Benohoud, Michèle Magema and Saïdou Dicko. We plan to continue our support of contemporary artists through our annual exhibitions, commissions and productions.
Two books about the collection and patronage have been published, in 1992 and in 2002, on the occasion of large-scale exhibitions. Half of the works are displayed in the offices, open spaces and halls of our headquarters and the others are in our regional offices and branches. The vision of the collection is : ‘Works everywhere for everyone’, which explains the importance of the limited edition multiples in some of the branches to help educate the way people look at art. The works move around several times a year, partly because of loans and temporary exhibitions.
The foundation has advised clients when it has been asked for advice but we do not have an actual advisory service. However, we publish a bimonthly newsletter, containing an article about the trajectory and quota of an artist in our collection or about artists exhibited at the foundation.
Director at Aspire Art Auctions
Emma Bedford is a director and senior art specialist at Aspire Art Auctions, a new auction house in Johannesburg and Cape Town, which she joined after leaving Strauss & Co auction house.
2015 saw exciting developments within the primary and the secondary markets and phenomenal growth driven by public, corporate and individual collecting activity. How many corporate art collections there are in South Africa varies according to whom you consult and which criteria are used. One curator has estimated the number at around 17 and another at about 50. The important ones, include the Standard Bank, the Sanlam Art Collection, South32, MTN Art Collection and the Sasol Art Collection.
The first corporate collection is possibly that of the South African Broadcasting Corporation which began informally in 1916. Part-time curator, Koulla Xinisteris, draws on this collection of over 1,000 works to produce stimulating and educative exhibitions such as Making Waves and Scape for the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban in 2011. The curator was able to buy works at auction by the likes of Marlene Dumas, Dumile Feni and Fred Page at affordable prices without much competition.
The Standard Bank sponsors young artists and major touring exhibitions and maintains its impressive Corporate Collection as well as a unique African Art Collection jointly owned with the University of the Witwatersrand. The Reserve Bank’s collection makes around 80% of its acquisitions at auction houses since its predominant feature is landscape paintings from 1930-1980. But it also collects works outside landscape, especially from the 1960s and 1970s by Peter Clarke, Ephraim Ngatane, Gladys Mgudlandlu and Walter Battiss, and contemporary art. By contrast, the Sasol Art Collection, started in 1983, comprises over 2,000 mainly contemporary artworks by young, emerging South African artists.
The collection of Anton and Huberte Rupert, housed in the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch, is one of the earliest private collections and was begun in the 1940s. Showcasing the best of South African artists such as Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern, Alexis Preller, Battiss, Jean Welz, JH Pierneef and Anton van Wouw, it continues to grow under the guardianship of the Rupert Art Foundation.
Traditionally, collectors have favoured auction houses for historical and modern acquisitions and commercial galleries and art fairs for contemporary purchases. But with the Cape Town Art Fair dedicating a Past/Modern section for older works, distinctions are blurring. Conversely, contemporary works are increasingly coming up at auction. Many important collections are vested in trusts. The Constitutional Court Trust owns an extraordinary collection of artworks donated by prominent artists and benefactors to celebrate the Court’s role in the transition to democracy.
The collection was primarily assembled by Albie Sachs, who practiced as a judge at the Constitutional Court from 1994 to 2009. Private collectors are the most visibly active buyers in the primary and secondary markets. Many factors have contributed to the rise of private collectors in the last 10 years. Works of art are increasingly sought after, whether for aesthetic satisfaction, as status symbols or as perceived hedges against the uncertainty of other markets.
Many also recognise the value of building family or private collections in an environment where the lack of funding for public institutions has resulted in the relative stagnation of state collections.
Ceo of Business and Arts, South Africa (Basa)
Michelle Constant has been CEO at Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), a public-private partnership between the corporate sector and government’s Department of Arts and Culture since 2008. Its aim is to develop strategic partnerships between the business and arts sectors in South Africa.
BASA is a not-for-profit organization and our core mandate is to leverage the relationship between business and the arts. Since the inception of BASA 20 years ago, we have been running an annual event, the BASA Awards. Partnered by Hollard (an insurance and financial services company) and Business Day (a national newspaper), it rewards and
recognizes businesses for their best practice in engaging in the arts. There are 14 different awards, three of which are not voted on by the committee of judges but by BASA’s board.
Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
Art enthusiast, art lover, and employee of a company that is committed to facilitate participation in, and access to the
What was the impetus for the inception of Standard Bank’s art collection and what was the vision?
The collection started in the early 1930s with painting of the various Standard Bank Chairmen. From then until the late 1960s the collecting policy was informal and was driven by the incumbent Chairman. The collection began in earnest in 1970 when the famous Head Office in Fox street was designed and built. The then Chairman Mr AAQ Davies commissioned four artworks to celebrate the opening of that iconic building.
The artists were Louis Maqubela, Cecil Skotness, Walter Battiss. The collection policy was and is proudly South African
and the aim is to support and grow South African artists. While the collection sits at the heart of Standard Bank’s sponsorships for the visual arts, our strategic support extends beyond the acquisition of artworks, focusing additionally on a number of sustainable long-term initiatives. The Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art provides a platform from which we can nurture and encourage future artists; and The Standard Bank Gallery which provide a world class exhibition venue in which we showcase the work of local and international artists of the highest order.
How would you describe the collection in terms of styles and diversity of artworks?
The collection is extremely diverse. It contains works in all media, ranging from 1755 to today.
How many works by how many artists are in the collection today?
About 1500 works and about 300 artists.
Which artists would you like to add to the collection?
We endeavor to include all artists in the collection so they are all pretty well represented. We have an ongoing collection process so we consider everyone.
How is the collection displayed in the bank’s headquarters and branches?
The collection is housed mainly in the public and executive areas of the Standard Bank Headquarters and the Standard Bank Gloval Leadership Centre in Johannesburg. Components are also located in Standard Bank offices in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Pretoria, London and New York.
What are your future objectives for the collection and for organising exhibitions of works in the collection?
To continue collecting – especially young emerging talent. The collection does appear in the Standard Bank Gallery regularly.
Do you offer an art advisory service to your clients?
Curator: Sanlam Art Collection
The Sanlam Art Collection located near Cape Town. Sanlam is South Africa’s second largest Life Insurance Co and financial service provider including investment, short term insurance and medical insurance etc. The company has representation through about 18 countries throughout Africa and is expanding this footprint every year. The expansion on the African continent is a relatively recent strategy in comparison to the age of the company now close 98 years old.
The Sanlam Art Collection was founded in 1965 through an initiative of the then board of the company that saw the acquisition of South African Art as an important symbolic statement about the company’s commitment to the cultural heritage of the country and as an important aspect of the company’s broader educational programme of introducing staff to the appreciation of South African art.
The acquisitions strategy at the time was to develop a representative collection of South African art. Of course what is understood by representative then was quite different than today. The collection therefore feature works from the late nineteenth century the present. The bulk of the collection is unsurprisingly devoted to painting where the traditional themes of landscape, still life and portraiture are well represented. Much of SA art up until the late 1940’s was locked into a British inspired naturalist approach to painting. This was largely due to the country being a British colony and many of the artists here saw Britain as the place to study and follow.
There were of course some notable exceptions to this such as Maggie Laubser and Irma Stern per World War to and then many others followed afterwards as studying overseas became more affordable and desirable. The Sanlam Art Collection grew steadily from the 1960s to the 1970s. By the late 1980s the collection was expanded considerably when an entire private collection of approximately 1000 South African artists’ works was acquired in 1989. From then on regular acquisitions were made to augment the collection with contemporary and historical works. The collection presently holds some 1700 items.
These are displayed in office environments throughout South Africa. The company’s head office in Bellville near Cape Town houses the Sanlam Art Gallery where a selection of works from the collection are on permanent display. The exhibitions are changed on a regular basis. The gallery is open to the public at no charge. In 2015 the company opened an exhibition space in its regional head office at 11 Alice Lane in Sandton in Johannesburg, known as the Sanlam Art Lounge. The new space is still to develop a broader public profile.
The acquisitions strategy of the collection remains building a representative collection of South African art. The emphasis in the future will be more on contemporary art production in South Africa and there is a possibility that the collection may expand to countries in Africa where the company begins to establish a notable presence.
How did you start your collection and which were the first artists whose works you began acquiring?
Initially the Sanlam Art Collection acquired works of contemporary artists who had already received considerable recognition in 1960s and 1970s. Artists acquired then were Walter Battiss, Irma Stern, Sydney Kumalo to name a few.
What was the last piece you bought?
The most recent purchases have included a selection of 37 watercolours by Wopko Jensma, a sculpture by Shpeherd Mbanya and a work on paper by Zander Blom
Which other artists would you like to add to your collection?
There are of course many possible acquisitions. The collection looks for significant images that historically important or are currently of such significance that they will be important in time to come. Some names come to mind such as
Mary Sibande, Johannes Pokela, Bernie Searl, Moshekwa Langa, Robin Rhode, Air Patra Ruga are all potential artists in the contemporary sphere amongst many others that we will be considering seriously in the furture.
What do you think of the boom of contemporary art from Africa?
The booming contemporary art in Africa has two components to it. One; is that the through the efforts of a generation of curators originating from Africa and more broadly the “Global South” contemporary art practices in Africa are being researched, published and acknowledged in exhibitions throughout the world. This has taken many year to establish. Art historians and critics have charted the evolving interest in contemporary African art in various ways. There is no doubt that seminal exhibitions in the 1980s such as the Tributaries exhibition in Johannesburg and Magiciennes de La Terre in France were significant markers in the global acknowledgement of the African practice in the global art world. Further on the Johannesburg Biennials in the 1990s, the second one being directed by Okwui Enwezor had a profound effect on the South African art world and was a significant step for Okwui to become a globally recognised curator. His championing of African contemporary art, albeit much of it produced outside the continent in the diaspora, through shows as the The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994 and Global Conceptualism celebrated African art within a global paradigm. There are many other exhibitions and curators who have successfully championed Africa’s place in the global art world – too many to mention. The result is that great museums of art in Europe and the United States have taken notice and are reviewing their acquisitions strategies to incorporate representations from Africa and Global South. Two: as a result of the above, but also at the same time with European and American modern and contemporary arts shooting the lights out at auction sales, art fairs and gallery floors, African contemporary art presented an opportunity for savvy operators, agents, dealers and auctioneers to offer vital ground breaking works to clients at a significant discount to European and American practitioners. While African artists were becoming academically and historically acceptable they also become trad-able commodities. Not unlike the Chinese boom the African boom has had its positive as well negative effects. For anyone being part of this boom requires a steady head and a capacity to differentiate between quality and fashion.
In what ways do you think the growing market of modern and contemporary art from Africa will develop further?
There is no doubt that this market has grown and will grow rapidly into the future. With the rise of wealthy private collectors on the continent, hopefully the development of more institutions such as the MOCAA in Cape Town and the realisation of the value of culture by governments in Africa, the demand for modern and contemporary art is going to grow exponentially. That Sotheby’s is prepared to establish and contemporary African art department in competition with Bonhams in London and local auction houses in South Africa indicates there is much more to potential for this market to grow. The question would of course be to what extent will resident Africans benefit or be deprived if this
market remains primarily driven from Europe or the United States for time to come.
Do you think that African artists are creating a new era of a common art form, or forms, in the world’s art scene?
To what extent one can speak of a new era we will only be able to tell in a decade or so. There however seems to be an optimism and self consciousness in the market which presents all the symptoms of a new era being upon us.
Are you planning any new projects?
We are presently going through a re-strategisation of what the collection is going to do in the future. There are many new ideas which will involve more contemporary artists but also trying to build better links with established institutions to facilitate collaborations on exhibitions and possible acquisitions. Watch this space.
CURATOR : ABSA ART COLLECTION AND MUSEUM, JOHANNESBURG
Dr Paul Bayliss is the art and museum curator of Absa, a wholly owned subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group Ltd. Besides being responsible for Absa’s art collection and the Absa Art Gallery for the past six years, Bayliss curates the Absa Money Museum, South Africa’s only money and banking museum, and is project manager for the Barclays L’Atelier art competition across the African continent. Absa has an extensive art collection comprising of approximately 18,000 artworks representing several thousand artists. The collection is primarily South African but more recently has included artworks from artists across the continent.
Artworks from South African Masters and more recent contemporary works are included. The collection is displayed in the boardrooms and corridors of our head office and in regional offices and branches. We also continually loan works out to other galleries, museums or institutions for exhibitions. The Barclay’s L’Atelier art competition, now in its 31st year, is a platform for young and emerging artists to showcase their talent. It is aimed at artists aged 21-35. Artists resident in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Mauritius and the Seychelles are invited to participate therein. Historically, the competition was primarily aimed at South African artists. In 2015, as part of the 30-year celebration of the competition, it was broadened to include artists from Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Botswana.
In 2016, the competition was further broadened and opened to artists from Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Mauritius and Seychelles. In 2016, the overall winner received a cash prize of 225,000 rands (US$15,000) and a six-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Several Merit prizes are also awarded: a three month residency at the Bag Factory in Johannesburg, a two-month residency with the Sylt Foundation on the Island of Sylt, a one-month residency at the Ampersand Foundation in New York City and a three month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts. The winning artist is also granted a solo exhibition in Absa’s Art Gallery.
Absa’s Art Gallery provides a platform for artists to continue to showcase their talent and build their brand. These works are also for sale through the gallery, which takes no commission from sales as all the proceeds go to the artist. As part of Barclays Africa’s Shared Growth initiative, which endeavors to make a difference to the various communities in which we operate, the objective of our exhibitions is to nurture talent and support young artists.
One of our big focal areas is around education – educating the public about what they’re looking at and how to think about investing in the visual arts. The gallery also provides an advisory service to our clients and stakeholders on how to manage their portfolios and on upcoming talent to watch.
Given the specifics of the burgeoning African modern and contemporary art market, it is essential to go beyond auction results alone in
order to analyze it. This study ranks the 100 artists who obtained the best scores according to five weighted criteria:
- turnover at auction in 20155 (25%)
- medium price of characteristic artworks on the first market (25%)
- number of exhibitions in museums throughout career (20%)
- number of exhibitions at commercial galleries throughout career (20%)
- level of recognition among independent art critics (10%)
4 artist profiles
4 different artist profiles emerged through the analysis:
- Global – The Global profile includes artists who are recognized internationally in both the museum and the commercial worlds, with stable prices on the first and the second markets.
- Undervalued – The Undervalued profile includes artists with a strong presence on the art scene, both in the non-profit and the first market sectors. Their artworks appear sporadically on the second market, with undervalued prices.
- High Potential – The High Potential profile includes artists whose recognition in the art circles is underway. Their presence is stronger in museums than in commercial galleries. Their artworks are hardly seen on the second market.
- To watch – The To Watch profile includes emerging artists whose first artworks have recently been seen on the second market for the first time. For this study’s purposes, the Global and the Undervalued profile can be split in two according to the artists’ birth dates: – Modern: artists who were born before 1940.- Contemporary: artists who were born after 1940.
Curator, based in Munich and New York
Born in Nigeria in 1963, Okwui Enwezor was a poet and critic before becoming a curator. He was the first non-European
art director of documenta, the five-yearly exhibition in Kassel, Germany, which he curated in 2002. In 2015, he became the first African to curate the Venice Biennale with his exhibition All the “World’s Futures”.
He has been director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, since 2011. Enwezor moved to the US in 1982 to study political science at Jersey City State College near New York. He founded Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art in 1994, a biannual publication named after the Igbo word for art. The first issue drew the attention of Spanish curator Octavio Zaya, who invited Enwezor to join his curatorial team working on the exhibition “In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present” at the Guggenheim in New York in 1996. Enwezor was then appointed curator of the second Johannesburg Biennale in 1996 and six years later he was invited to be the director of documenta 11. Enwezor earned a reputation for proposing a different view of the world, the history of post-colonialism and what Africa contributed to the world’s development.
In 2011 he was made director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich for a five-year post which has been renewed until 2021. He has been credited with increasing the number of the museum’s exhibitions per year to 12 and introducing a broader discourse. Enwezor sought to make “All the World’s Futures“ for the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale deeply reflective and political. He anchored his show in one work of literature: Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. A team of performers staged daily readings, directed by British artist/ filmmaker Isaac Julien, from the text in a performance space designed by British architect David Adjaye. Enwezor brought in numerous artists born or working in parts of the world often underrepresented in such exhibitions, including African artists from Cameroon, Ghana, Congo and Nigeria and Middle Eastern artists from Jordan, Iraq, Palestine and Syria.
Many of the artworks focused on labour conditions, such as art as an investigation of labour, the changing nature of labour or how conditions of labour are expressive of global inequality. In 2015, Enwezor was also a consulting curator on the exhibition “Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design” at Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany. Featuring the work of more than 120 artists and designers, it showcased how design accompanies and fuels the continent’s economic and political changes. The wide diversity of work varied from furniture by Malian designer Cheick Diallo, eyewear sculptures by Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru, animation films by South Africanborn, Berlin-based artist Robin Rhode, and photography by Mário Macilau from Mozambique and J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere from Nigeria.
Also on view were architectural projects by Francis Kéré, David Adjaye and Kunlé Adeyemi and cardboard city models
by Bodys Isek Kingelez.
Independent curator, writer and critic
Born in Lausanne in 1962 and based in Paris, Simon Njami has been a pioneering player in the art world since his twenties. After conceiving the Ethnicolour Festival in Paris in 1987, he became one of the first curators to present contemporary works by African artists on the international scene. He was artistic director of the Rencontres de Bamako photography biennale in Mali from 2001-2007. Then he curated “Africa Remix“, which was presented at Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf, the Hayward Gallery in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Moderna
Museet in Stockholm and Johannesburg Art Gallery between 2004-2007.
In 2015, Njami was invited to curate the exhibition “Après Eden, la collection Artur Walther” at La Maison Rouge in Paris. Njami selected more than 800 works by around 50 artists from the photography collection of German collector Artur Walther, who lives in New York. Walther has around 4,000 works in his collection and Njami picked out a fifth of them for his exhibition about paradise lost. “In looking at the Walther collection, I had the feeling of finding myself in front of a pagan version of the story of Adam and Eve chased out of paradise and projected into a space to the east of Eden”, he told Le Monde. Njami themed his exhibition around eight fictions: the garden, the city, identity, the novel, the body, the mask, others and the voyeur.
Hung on the walls were South Africa’s arid landscapes by David Goldblatt, images of Angola by Jo Ractliffe and child soldiers by Guy Tillim. Portraiture ranged from young revellers by Malian photographers Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta, South African transsexuals by Sabelo Mlangeni, homosexual by Nigerian photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode and staged self-portraits by Samuel Fosso. Also on view were works by Sammy Baloji from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa’s Pieter Hugo, along with western photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Ruff, August Sander and Richard Avedon, Japan’s Hiroh Kikai and China’s Yang Fudong.
Njami also explored a fictional idea for his exhibition, “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory” revisited by Contemporary African Artists. First shown at the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt in 2014, it traveled to Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC the following year. The multi-media show proposed a contemporary interpretation of the themes of Dante Alighieri’s 14thcentury epic poem, “The Divine Comedy”, through works of 40 artists from 18 African nations and the African diaspora.
On display were sculptures by British artist Yinka Shonibare, South Africa’s Nicholas Hlobo and Egyptian-born Ghada Amer. Plus collage by Kenyan-born Wangechi Mutu, videos by France’s Zineb Sedira, drawings by Ethiopian-born Julie Mehretu and photography by Edson Chagas, who won the Golden Lion for the Best National Participation for Angola at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Upcoming names included Wim Botha (South Africa), Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola), Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny (Ivory Coast), Ato Malinda (Kenya) and Dimitri Fagbohoun (Benin).
Jean Servais Somian
Coconut wood and lacquer
170 x 38 cm
Photo A.L. Dago
Katie de Klee
Design Indaba, Cape Town
Design Indaba is an annual design festival that was founded in 1995 by managing director Ravi Naidoo. Katie de Klee is the editor of designindaba.com, a digital platform for news, features and the Design Indaba creative conference and festival held annually in Cape Town, which is broadcast live to six Southern African cities.
Design in Africa is still a young industry. Historically, design on the continent has only been looked at as artefact and curio, with explorations into Africa’s material culture being more common than a deep exploration of its contemporary design scene. Design education is relatively new and still hidden behind the academic institutions of the west. In Rwanda, there was no school of architecture and no word for architect in the native Rwandan language, Kinyarwanda, until 2008. Italy alone has 153,000 qualified designers and architects, compared to 35,000 across the whole African continent.
The design scene in South Africa is growing but it mostly consists of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Very little design is being made at scale on the continent, although Ethiopia appears to be changing this. A huge leap in industrial design infrastructure is needed for African designers to keep up with global market demand.
African designers create in resource-scarce environments but are proving to be hyper resourceful. Despite often not having any formal training, they are hybrid creatives with intuitive skills, a problem-solving attitude and more heightened sensitivity than the well-meaning, charitable designers from the developed world. African design revives materials that much of the world would see as garbage, as seen in the work of Senegalese designers Ousmane Mbaye and Amadou Fatoumata. Mbaye makes unique pieces from material he scavenges from Dakar’s landfills, while Fatoumata reworks old car tyres into design creations and sculptures.
Similarly, Cairo-based Reform Studio makes brightly coloured, woven designs from reused plastic bags. The world’s eye is on African design – it has appeared on catwalks, in galleries and in museum exhibitions worldwide. Dokter and Misses, the South African design studio of husband-and-wife team Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin, create furniture and interior objects that have bold, graphic patterns. Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane makes surreal, cartoony clothing to disrupt Senagalese fashion codes. Laduma Ngxokolo, founding designer of MaXhosa, uses traditional Xhosa bead work motifs and patterns to celebrate the rich heritage of the Xhosa culture in his textiles.
Ghanian architect David Adjaye, who was awarded an OBE in 2007, is a major international figure in architecture. Whilst not subscribing to a specific geographic or cultural aesthetic, he seeks to bring a distinct «Afropolitan» view to his projects. And Rwandan architect Christian Benimana uses local artisans and materials to bring skills, income and dignity to the community, believing that architecture is a catalyst for peace. Design is key to the transformation of the continent and the re-imagining of its rapidly growing cities. Even small-scale design and entrepreneurship has the potential to provide young people with a means of making a sustainable income.
By Franck Houndegla
Franck Houndegla conceives design projects for sets, museums, public spaces and heritage sites in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the US. Since 2012, he is artistic director of Liaisons urbaines, an initiative geared towards redeveloping pubic spaces in African cities that is supported by the Institut Français. Nowadays, three projects have been realized in Benin, Chad and Morocco.
On the African continent, we can find numerous quality designers – Africans, those from the diaspora and Europeans. The most visible among them are making design objects, such as furniture and products. They use artisanal production networks and produce in small or medium-sized series for an “enlightened” international and local clientele through direct sales or through representatives, such as international and local stores and galleries.
In the network called «francophone», the leading African designers are Cheick Diallo, Issa Diabaté, Bibi Seck, Hicham Lahlou, Khadija Kabbaj, Aïssa Dione, Jules Wokam and Vincent Bayilou, who are are all developing remarkable projects. But there are many others, be it in Ghana, Nigeria and of course South Africa, where Design Indaba in Cape Town shows the importance of this sector and where urban developments integrate the “design” dimension. In Johannesburg, one also finds the MOAD, Museum of African Design, which opened in 2013.
The influence of the above-mentioned designers is not measured by their economic power, meaning the number of pieces sold, but by their media coverage which makes them inspiring models for aspiring designers. Their objects, which are found in magazines, blogs and international exhibitions (such as the traveling exhibition “Making Africa” at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany), give a positive image of African modernity. The media’s interest in modern creativity from Africa is quite a deep trend.
African contemporary creation arouses a certain interest, whether it’s in the form of literature, contemporary art, architecture, design, music, dance or theater. Even though this visibility does not necessarily have repercussions in economic terms, it is a powerful vector of influence and of image-construction. It is a form of “soft power”. Regarding other design domains, interior architecture and scenography are very present in Kenya, thanks to tourism and hospitality. Just take a glance at the hundreds of interior designers/architects in Kenya’s phone directory.
Some of them conceive the scenography of exhibitions for the National Museums of Kenya. Graphic design is omnipresent in Africa but paradoxically little known. Last year several important design events took place, such as “Making Africa” at Vitra Design Museum9. We also had the Africa Morocco Design Days festival conference and the Africa Design Award, both launched by Hicham Lahlou in Rabat and Casablanca.
9 – Touring exhibition “Making Africa” produced in 2015 by the Vitra Design Museum. Curated by Amelie Klein,curator at the Vitra Design Museum. Consulting curator Okwui Enwezor.
African Design Days and Award, Morocco
Africa Design Days was founded by Moroccan designer Hicham Lahlou and held its first edition, co-organized with the ONA Foundation, in Morocco in 2015. The first edition was titled Africa Morocco Design Days and took place in two cities: at Villa des Arts in Rabat from 20 March to 17 May 2015 and at the Villa des Arts in Casablanca from 22 May – 19 July 2015. The Rabat event was inaugurated by Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
More than 90 objects made by 45 designers from more than 10 African countries, including designers and craftsmen in Morocco, were showcased at the two venues. Lahlou launched the idea for Africa Design Days (ADD) and African Design Award (ADA) in 2014 at the New York Forum Africa in Gabon, where he was an invited speaker. His aim is to promote African talent by enabling African designers to “participate in the momentum of the continent” through their creativity, and to highlight a new generation of designers as well as those already established in the African continent.
Following the success of Africa Morocco Design Days, Lahlou was asked to host a satellite event, Africa Design Days, in September 2015 during Paris Design Week and Maison & Objet interiors fair. The exhibition at Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design featured designers selected by Lahlou. One of his works was included in the Making Africa exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, in 2015.
2015 Teach the Future
Head of Art & Culture at Fondation AWB of Attijariwafa Bank
The market was very quiet compared to 2005-2008 but the Marrakech Biennale and some other important events served to reassure collectors about their purchases of works by mature artists. We noticed the appearance of a real hub of emerging artists involved in commenting on or interpreting current affairs and social issues. Despite having visibility thanks to their galleries, the media through which they express themselves (installation, video, interactive environment) remain difficult for the buyers and public to access because they necessitate a discourse.
CEO of First Finance
Of course! One feels that there is an awareness of art and of what if offers as a possibility of expression. At Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts of Abidjan, the students are becoming aware of deforestation issues and problems linked to the climate. It is also becoming increasingly common to offer a painting as a gift more than anything else. This makes me think that we are going to inevitably follow the evolution of Asian countries
Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery
It is great to see how Art Fairs are doing so well.
Touria El Glaoui
Director of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
While wildly poetic, contemporary African art is frequently fiercely political in a myriad of ways. I think this touching combination – between lyricism and political resistance and action – is key to its rising recognition. People are certainly
The main thing I have noticed is the massive return of once expatriated artists. This has a tremendous beneficial impact locally as the interactions and exchanges that follow contribute to shaping and dynamizing the contemporary art scene.
Co-director/partner of Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town and Johannesburg
Of course, the Johannesburg and Cape Town art fairs have really changed our local landscape. The gallery ecosystem in the region has changed rapidly as well, particularly in South Africa. However, the biggest change seems to be the amount of attention paid to the African art scene by the global press. Artists from this part of the world have always been getting on with the business of making art but now it seems to have become fashionable to write about them.
CEO of Business and Arts South Africa (Basa)
We are definitely seeing a growth in and support of the visual arts. There are diverse art fairs that now take place on an annual basis: the FNB Joburg Art Fair, the Turbine Art Fair and the Cape Town Art Fair. The Joburg Art Fair has been running the longest and is extremely successful. There is a definitely a taste for buying art in South Africa and the secondary market or art auctions have been growing and becoming more successful
Co-founder of Art Vantage PCC Limited investment fund
We’ve experienced a growing interest in African contemporary art by western collectors in recent years. This encourages big western galleries to add African artists to their roster, which increases the region’s exposure in international art fairs, which generates further academic and market interest. It is a virtuous circle that is well underway in African contemporary that I expect to continue. We now see more evidence that several key players are taking important steps to make African Art more accessible to traditional art collectors.
It also seems that contemporary art from Africa has become a popular topic for art market journalists
Director at Aspire Art Auctions
New initiatives impacting on South Africa’s art market include private collections with public profiles and access. Financier Piet Viljoen pioneered this when he launched The New Church Museum, South Africa’s first contemporary art museum which opened in Cape Town in 2012. Such initiatives play a vital role in a scenario where public institutions like Iziko South African National Gallery are poorly funded and struggle to add significant acquisitions to their collections
Director of Tiwani Contemporary, London
I can share what I think are interesting developments recently and that is a consistent interest in further developing the discourse around art from Africa and its market. I feel this is interesting because in the past we saw perhaps an interest in the discourse but not the market so now you have both elements working together.
You have international fairs like the Armory in NY and Art Paris in Paris giving a focus platform to art from Africa. In London and New York you have the 1:54 African Art Fair going from strength to strength and Paris will see this year the first edition of AKAA African Art Fair. Also in the auction house sector you the successful Bonhams auctions being joined by Sotheby’s that are just launching the Africa sales.
More importantly you have like never before important positive developments on the continent. You have a growing numbers of biennials, the birth or non for profit spaces, more commercial galleries as well the upcoming opening of a museum of contemporary art in Cape Town. Again in South Africa the Cape Town Art Fair had its fourth edition and is preparing for its fifth. In West Africa we see the first edition of two new fairs one in Lagos and one in Ghana.
This is interesting because it shows there is local interest; so these are fantastic initiatives that will nurture a local collector base that can activate the local art scene for the long gem. This is important because the long term growth of art from Africa also depends on the creation and strength of a local art ecosystem and patronage. The future is absolutely exciting.
Stephen Tio Kauma
The number of people interested in acquiring contemporary art from Africa has certainly grown in the last five years. The explosion of social media has made it easier for people like me to find pieces we like. The last two pieces I bought were through social media and I would have been unable to find them otherwise.
Africa Art Market™
Jean Philippe Aka
Osei G. Kofi
(He’s a foreign correspondent and senior editor for a number of media houses including the Reuters News Agency)
He teaches art, design, architecture and cultural heritage, and conducts research on the evolution of the architectural
and urban forms in contemporary African cities.
El Hadji Malick Ndiaye
Curator at The Théodore Monod African Art Museum,Dakar. Researcher in art history. IFAN. Cheick Anta Diop university, Dakar.
Journalist & art reviewer
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