A person on stilts wearing bright flowing clothes and a head dress standing in a seaside village at dusk
‘The Village Giant’ (2022) by Àsìko at Movart © Courtesy Movart

With a decade at Somerset House under its belt, contemporary African art fair 1-54 is about to have its biggest edition yet, showing work from 62 galleries from the continent and diaspora, up from 50 last year. Themes of identity, self-discovery, empowerment and challenging stereotypes run throughout, as well as a move towards traditional African mediums and materials where “artists are more crafty, using weaving, textile and ceramics”, says Touria El Glaoui, founding director.

A black oil can laid on its side looking like a face topped with red feathers
‘Afriquoi’ (2022) by Romuald Hazoumè at October Gallery © Courtesy artist/gallery. Photo: Romuald Hazoumè

“When we started, there was no established international platform for contemporary African artists”, says El Glaoui. “New artists see 1-54 as an opportunity to enter the world stage, which was not the same for the older generation at the fair . . . In 10-25 years from now, this will be an important visual point in time, when we had an invasion of black portraiture on the market.”

Painting of a woman ironing her hair
‘Não ser eu, para ser aceita’ (2022) by Larissa de Souza at Albertz Benda © Courtesy artist/gallery
Painting of a man in a white and golden yellow striped top against a golden yellow wall
‘Two Sure’ (2022) by Adjei Tawiah at Gallery 1957 © Courtesy artist/gallery

This year marks 1-54’s first London pop-up show, Transatlantic Connections: Caribbean Narratives in Contemporary Art, presented by Christie’s, which spotlights artists from the main fair including Sonia Boyce, Helen Cammock and Zak Ové.

Considering the growing appetite for contemporary African art internationally among collectors, El Glaoui hopes to bring 1-54 to Asia and to launch pop-up fairs across the African continent, in addition to its annual London, New York and Marrakech counterparts. October 12-15, 1-54.com

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