A Vibrant 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2023
The 11th edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair unfolded from Thursday, October 12th, to Sunday, October 15th, 2023, at the prestigious Somerset House in London, UK. This renowned art fair is dedicated to celebrating contemporary African art and its diaspora, and this edition marked its most extensive showcase yet. With 62 international exhibitors from over 31 countries, including 14 galleries making their debut in the London edition, the event offered a fresh perspective and a burst of creativity.
Diverse Art Forms and Emerging Talents
The fair was a treasure trove of art, featuring various forms, from painting and sculpture to mixed media and installation. More than 170 artists, both established figures like Joana Choumali, Ibrahim El-Salahi, and Soly Cissé and emerging talents like Franklyn Dzingai and Wilfred Timire, showcased their creativity. The works on display echoed a myriad of voices, each expressing their perspective on Africa and its diverse cultures.
ArtHarare's African Vision
An integral part of the fair was artHarare, a platform dedicated to promoting contemporary art from Zimbabwe and its diaspora. Established in 2020, artHarare has played a vital role in supporting emerging artists from Zimbabwe and offering them a global stage. Their presentation at 1-54 London included works by leading Zimbabwean artists like Tafadzwa Tega, Option Dzikamai Nyahunzvi, Prudence Chimutuwah, and more. The artists' creations, spanning various media, effectively narrated the stories of their nation, its people, challenges, and aspirations.
Amine El Gotaibi's Illuminating Art
A highlight of the event was Moroccan artist Amine El Gotaibi's monumental installation, 'Illuminate the Light.' Crafted in collaboration with MCC Gallery in Marrakech, Morocco, the installation featured twelve geometric sculptures, each inspired by the seeds of a pomegranate. These sculptures celebrated the diversity and richness of the African continent. El Gotaibi's ingenious use of light as a solid medium within the sculptures transformed them into radiant installations at dusk, symbolizing the emergence of light from darkness.
A Platform for Diversity and Representation
The fair underscored the importance of representing African voices in the global art community. With one-third of the international exhibitors hailing from the African continent, it celebrated the diversity and creativity of African artists. The inclusion of 14 galleries making their London debut added vibrancy and depth to the event.
"This year's collaboration included the second iteration of '1-54 Presents,' a pop-up exhibition program hosted by Christie's in their London space from October 10th to 13th."
A Digital Art Journey
Thanks to 1-54's partnership with Artsy, visitors had the opportunity to explore, engage with, and acquire artworks online. This digital platform remained accessible from October 12th to 29th at artsy.net/1-54, allowing art enthusiasts to extend their artistic journey beyond the physical event.
WeAfric had the privilege of being part of this artistic celebration as a VIP delegate, and our heartfelt appreciation goes to Felicia Munjaidi, Head of Tourism at the Zimbabwe Embassy, for making this remarkable opportunity possible. We also extend our sincere thanks to Paulina Gallardo for her generous invitation.
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2023 brought the dynamism and creativity of African and diaspora artists to the forefront, contributing to a more inclusive and vibrant artistic landscape. WeAfric remains dedicated to supporting such events and empowering the African diaspora through artistic expression and cultural representation. As we eagerly anticipate future artistic adventures, we are inspired to continue fostering progress, unity, and positive change within our community.