African Contemporary Art — a short story of a planetary success
Today, African art continues to rise and to achieve new heights of recognition with prestigious exhibitions, biennials, and auctions setting records by living artists. All around the globe, notable curators, scholars, and galleries regularly include African Contemporary and Modern artists in major exhibitions and publications. Collectors and institutions worldwide are slowly starting to realize the potential of the continent’s flourishing art market. `
In 2015, Okwui Enwezor was appointed the first African director of the Venice Biennial. The same year, the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement was attributed to El Anatsui (Ghana). This international recognition of curatorial and artistic talents of the majors' actors on the African contemporary art ecosystem, testifies alongside the major exhibitions of the growing interest in their work. An increasing number of African countries take part in the Venice Biennal, among them Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Ghana, Israël, Madagascar, Madagascar & Zimbabwe. Since 2017, the Biennal is also organizing a special exhibition known as African Art in Venice to give voice to the artist form unrepresented countries. Moreover, many biennials on the African continent, such as well established DAK’ART and Lubumbashi, allow the artist to show and promote their works.
During the past two decades, there has been a surge of interest in the work of contemporary African artists. A major reason for this turn of events is partly due to the impact of globalization on contemporary art and culture. Like others artists who were once situated on the margins of mainstream artistic narratives, African artists have been beneficiaries of the globalizing phenomenon that has included the rise of biennials and art fairs, and the unprecedented surge in collecting art on a worldwide scale.
— Okuwi Enwezor & Chika Okeke-Agulu, Contemporary African art since 1980, p. 10.
Dolet Malalu Wateko (°1980)
Major exhibitions of African Contemporary Art
Magiciens de la Terre, Centre Georges Pompidou & the Grande Halle de la Villette (Paris, France) -1989
Out of Africa exhibition of Jean Pigozzi’s Contemporary African Art Collection, Saatchi Gallery (London, UK) -1992
Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Gallery (London, UK) -1995
In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to Present, Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA) -1996
Authentic/Eccentric — Conceptualism in African Art exhibition is presented as off-program during the Venice Biennial — 2001
Exhibition AFRICA REMIX showed an important panorama of sub-Saharan art in Germany, Great-Britain, France and Japan -2004
Looking Both Ways: Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora, Museum of African Art (New York, USA) -2004
Snap Judgements: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography, International Center of Photography (New York, USA) -2006
Space: Currencies in Contemporary African Art at Museum Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa) -2010
Beauté Congo - Congo Kitoko, Cartier Foundation (Paris, France) - 2015
Malik Sidebé, Mali Twist, Cartier Foundation (Paris, France) -2016
African Metropolis, Museo Nationale Delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI, Rome, Italy) -2018
Congo Stars, Kunsthaus Graz (Austria) -2018
Kinshasa Chronicles, Musée des Arts Modestes (Sète, France) -2018
Retrospective Bodys Isek Kingelez. A first solo show of an African Artist hosted by MoMA (New York, USA) -2018
Multiple Transmissions, Art in the Afropolitan Age, WIELS (Brussels, Belgium) -2019
Incarnations - African Art As Philosophy, BOZAR (Brussels, Belgium) - 2019
I think the importance of African art has been highlighted by all of this. Biennials, museums, festivals, galleries, the art market, and of course the mainstream press, have followed this phenomenon and it has inspired the public to discover the creations of the artists.
— Mounir Fatmi, Artist