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London to Host World’s First Contemporary African Art Fair This October

London to Host World's First Contemporary African Art Fair This October, photo:Gonçalo MabundaTaking its name from the 54 countries across the vast continent of Africa, “1:54” will be the first ever international fair dedicated to modern and contemporary African art. The fair will take place this October, from the 16th to the 20th at Somerset House in Central London.

To be held during Frieze Week, the new fair will build on the growing popularity of contemporary African art and present a rare opportunity to explore the rapidly emerging African art market. From painting and sculpture to photography, 1:54 will present visual African art in its many forms giving collectors, art enthusiasts and the culturally curious a chance to experience and engage with African art in a new context.

1:54 will bring together more than 15 carefully selected galleries with tightly curated exhibitions, representing more than 70 artists from a range of backgrounds spanning different generations and reflecting the diversity in artistic practices rooted in Africa. From Abidjan and Lagos through to Paris and Seattle, 1:54 will feature a host of leading organisations from the African art scene all gathered in London for the inauguration of what looks set to be a major event on the global arts calendar.

Highlights of artists who will be represented at the fair include:

  •   Edson Chagas, whose work featured in Angola’s 2013 National pavilion at the Venice Biennale which won a Golden Lion, the highest accolade at the Biennale, making Angola the first African country to win the award.
  •   Meschac Gaba, from Benin, whose Museum of Contemporary African Art installation has recently been acquired by the Tate to huge critical acclaim.
  •   Aboudia, from Côte d’Ivoire, whose powerful political paintings have been aquired by major collections worldwide including the Saatchi Gallery.
  •   Sokari Douglas Camp CBE, Nigerian-born British artist who was shortlisted in for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth and is one of the first female African artists to have attracted the attention of the international art market.
  •   Sammy Baloji, from Democratic Republic Congo whose work won two awards at the African Photography Encounters in Bamako in 2007. His striking and historically loaded works of the Katanga region were exhibited at Tate Modern.
  •     Godfried Donkor, a Ghanian born London based British artist whose work represented the first African pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennale and is part of the collection at the Smithsonian National Musueum of African Art in Washington D.C.

1:54 will run from the 16th to the 20th of October in the West Wing of Somerset House, located at The Strand, WC2R 1LA. The nearest London Underground station is at Temple.

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Morly Cowan

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