The inaugural New York edition of London-based 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair presents art from leading African art galleries, such as Mariane Ibrahim Gallery and NOMAD Gallery, as well as a set of talks and lectures aimed at advancing the popularity and understanding of African art and art related to the African diaspora today.
With 16 exhibitors under the roof of Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, this boutique fair is an accessible entry point for collectors new to the field, and is an exciting alternative to the established Frieze and trendsetting NADA. Here are five artists and galleries from 1:54 that we should pay attention to:
Born in 1972 in a Beninese-Belgian family, Fabrice spent the first 17 years of his life in Benin, before moving to Belgium. He got into photography organically, after pursuing a modeling career. While his photographs often have a perfect gloss and polish, the content is often disturbing. Inspired by his own family’s history and genealogy, Fabrice addresses issues of racism and slavery in his photography series.
Bahamian Lavar Munroe was born in 1982 in Nassau, and moved to the USA at the age of 21. His mixed media collages and wall pieces are a product of his difficult childhood in the Bahamas, where the future artist was confronted with poverty and violence. Munroe’s semi-abstract pieces, featuring recognizable imagery of dog fights and grotesque depictions of humans, are amalgamations of everyday street scenes witnessed by the artist.
Ibrahim Mahama is one of the most talked-about artists at the 56th Venice Biennale, where his around-1,000-foot tapestry, made of jute sacks normally used to transport coal in Ghana, is adorning the Arsenale. Ibrahim appropriates commonplace and industrial materials, bringing the typically unseen into the public eye, elevating everyday objects to the level of art.
French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui was born in Paris in 1982 and has been exploring issues of identity and migration through her photography and video work. Leila focuses on telling stories about the cultural diversity of the contemporary Mediterranean.
Through his often graphic and bold prints and paintings Conrad Botes creates satirical narratives to emphasize differences and contradictions that permeate his native South Africa. In his work, the artist explores issue of racial and religious conflicts as well as economic privilege and disadvantage. Conrad’s work has been included in such acclaimed international events as the 17th Biennale of Sydney (Australia, 2010) the Guangzhou Triennial (China, 2008), Havana Biennale (Cuba, 2006).
South African artist Lebohang Kganye uses photography and sculpture to create three-dimensional fictitious narratives. Lebohang addresses issues of race and the long-lasting impact of apartheid on the societal development of South Africa. The artist appropriates archival photography to explore collective memory, history and fantasy.