In a continent as diverse as Africa, it is difficult to pin point specifics. Just like any other sphere of life, African aesthetic tradition is immensely varied country to country, nation to nation. However, as a whole, African contemporary art sector is drawing more and more global attention, with African art exhibitions constantly being hosted internationally, including cultural hubs like New York, London, LA and others. Art collectors and art dealers are investing increasing amounts of time and money in search and procurement of African contemporary art because it has a unique thread and feel to it that is becoming highly valued.
Although contemporary art is growing in significance, a big obstacle is the fact that unlike Asia, where Hong Kong has taken the lead, Africa lacks an established art capital. What also stands in the way of broader contemporary art awareness among the Africans as well as more advanced exposure globally is poorly developed infrastructure in the content – good stuff is out there, but despite us living in the 21st century defined by technological advancement, the means to reach it are still quite limited. That being said, prominent art centers and museums are sprouting up with the goal of nurturing the uniqueness of African contemporary art. Some worth noting include The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden in Marrakech, Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, and the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar. These large cities and capitals, accompanied by Lagos, Accra and Addis Ababa, are establishing themselves as prominent locations in African contemporary art sphere. And perhaps the fact that there is not one set cultural “capital” is for the best – it might prove to be too difficult to encompass such vast diversity and do justice to all, or at least most, aesthetic traditions of 1.2 billion people if everything ends up being concentrated in one location.
Zohra Opoku. Ghanaian-German artist born in 1976. Mostly known for spectacular blends of textile and photography to portray the life of women in the African world dominated by Islam. Her most desired works include screen prints on fabric and textile and generally her work is priced anywhere in between $15.000 and $35.000.
Elias Sime. Born in 1968, Sime is widely known for his innovative approach to creating monumental works. His “Tightrope” series are among his most successful artworks; there, he utilizes electrical waste woven in a way that creates a composition resembling landscapes. His work is valued at impressive $65,000 to $300,000, and he has received African Art Award from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.
Simphiwe Ndzube. This young artist was born in 1990, but already is an established figure in African contemporary art world. He focuses on utilizing linen, acrylic and spray paint, collage as well as found objects to create sculpture and paintings, oftentimes combined, to communicate messages about life in post-apartheid South Africa. His work is valued anywhere between $6,000 and $35,000.
Zanele Muholi. This photographer and filmmaker is one of the leading figures among artists advocating LGBTQ+ community in Africa. They received the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Humanitarian Photography. Their photographs exhibit LGBTQ+ community members in black-and-white images, valued at $5,000 to $30,000.
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