Spotlight on Artists

Pavillon 54’s magazine is a space for discovery, learnings and dialogue on Modern and Contemporary Art from Africa and its diaspora. Through articles, interviews, editorial coverage, videos, exhibitions and experiences, the Pavillon 54 community will learn, be informed and involved in current events in the African art world.

  • Amy Morton at Morton Fine Art gallery
    Amy Morton at Morton Fine Art gallery

    As the one-stop global digital platform and community for art from Africa and the Diaspora, Pavillon54 always seeks to enter fruitful partnerships with artists, curators, collectors, and galleries. It became only natural, then, that for the next step of our development, we partnered with some of the most exciting international galleries that specialise in contemporary African art and share our vision for the African art market.

  • Kojo Marfo’s ‘Dreaming of Identity’

    artworks to create a connection with people, to be a symbol for everyone to relate to
    Solo exhibition "Dreaming of Identity' at JD Malat Gallery - from June 10th to July 17th
    Solo exhibition "Dreaming of Identity' at JD Malat Gallery - from June 10th to July 17th

    With his first solo UK exhibition ‘Dreaming of Identity’ at JD Malat gallery, London, Kojo Marfo (b. 1980) explores the theme of identity through his own experience of migration. The artist depicts human figures with references from Africa, representing his roots in Ghana and Akan’s culture, and from the Western world - representing his travel to New York in the 1990s and his life based in London from 1999.

  • © The Johannesburg Station Panels at Rupert Art Foundation by JH Pierneef
    © The Johannesburg Station Panels at Rupert Art Foundation by JH Pierneef

    To navigate the history of art of a complex, multifaceted and multicultural continent as Africa, especially if you just got passionate about it, can seem like an overwhelming maze. But no worries, we are here to help you. Follow our series of “Artists you should know or watch” in each country, and you could soon almost sound like an expert!


    South Africa has always been one of the continent’s most established art markets. Nowadays, the country continuously flourishes with emerging artists and has a lively scene for galleries, exhibitions spaces, art fairs and auction houses. But what about its artistic roots? From Colonial art, where white South African artists portrayed what was seen as ‘the New World’, spanning throughout the 20th Century and the impact of African forms, and finally getting to the emerging of black artists, South African history of art is surely complex and multilayered, as the country itself.

  • Meet Greatjoy: a “Contemporary expressionist”

    Artists' Spotlight Series - Conversation with the artist
    © Greatjoy in his studio, South-Africa
    © Greatjoy in his studio, South-Africa

    Pavillon 54 had the chance to have a chat with Greatjoy Ndlovu: born in 1993, Greatjoy is a Zimbabwean visual artist living and working in Johannesburg, South Africa. One of the most interesting emerging artists on the South African scene, Greatjoy dynamic paintings are enriched by expressive brush strokes, graphite-drawing and splashes of color. His subject matter is mostly focused on human beings: their bodies, their behaviour, and their emotions. During the past year, Greatjoy explored the impact of the pandemic on our society and created a series of works, displayed on Pavillon 54, focusing on subjects as love, affection and family.

  • 7 Established Nigerian Artists You Should Know

    Art scene in Nigeria - Country Focus
    Ben Enwonwu's 'Christine' on view at Sotheby's on October 12, 2019, in London, England. Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's
    Ben Enwonwu's 'Christine' on view at Sotheby's on October 12, 2019, in London, England. Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's

    To navigate the history of art of a complex, multifaceted and multicultural continent as Africa, especially if you just got passionate about it, can seem like an overwhelming maze. But no worries, we are here to help you. Follow our series of “Artists you should know or watch” in each country, and you could soon almost sound like an expert!

     

    In the past decade, Nigeria's art scene has gained independence and global recognition and has flourished, leading to a renewed interest in modern and contemporary art in the country.  Here we list just 7 of Nigeria's most influential artists that one should know, this list is not exhaustive and could probably include many more artists. But we hope it will  inspire you to research more about this lively and booming art scene!

  • © Wonderbuhle 'Asikafiki', 2020, Acrylic and metallic paint on canvas, 100 x 100 cm
    © Wonderbuhle 'Asikafiki', 2020, Acrylic and metallic paint on canvas, 100 x 100 cm

    The late exhibition Liminality in Infinite Space held at the African Artists’ Foundation in Lagos has revealed much of contemporary African art’s appeal for figuration and portraiture – catalogue accessible here. The show’s intention seems to be twofold. First, “this exhibition arches back to more traditional art-making practices including painting, collage, tapestry and woodcuts”. Secondly, and from a representation standpoint, “it intentionally moves away from exaggerated depictions of blackness towards sharing moments of vulnerability and unostentatious joy”. It is no surprise at a time in which the black body is subjected to all sorts of gaze, subjugation, aggression or praise. 

  • One of the galleries open on First Thursday, downtown Cape Town © travel.sapeople
    One of the galleries open on First Thursday, downtown Cape Town © travel.sapeople

    One of Pavillon 54’s favourite things to do is to physically visit and scope out the artistic scene in various countries in Africa. This has been hard to achieve during the pandemic, however we fortunately managed to visit South Africa recently, and have already compiled a list of the 7 emerging artists to watch there. In this next instalment of our series on the art scene in South Africa, we highlight the 7 top art destinations in South Africa that every art lover has to experience.

  • The Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020
    The Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020

    The team here at Pavillon54 has recently had the opportunity to visit this wonderful country, and we’ve rounded up 7 promising artists to keep an eye on. Read on to learn more, follow, and support these artists!

  • Victoria Rogers for CULTURED MAGAZINE [1] © CHRIS WAGGONER
    Victoria Rogers for CULTURED MAGAZINE [1] © CHRIS WAGGONER

    One of the biggest misconceptions about collecting art is that you must be very wealthy to do so. However, this is simply not the case, as there are plenty of emerging artists and art markets to invest in at affordable prices. Art from Africa and its diaspora is one such example, as its market is still developing rapidly. Collectors can obtain artworks of great quality and investment value at lower prices, and therefore not only contribute to the growth of an incredible movement of artists, but also add an artwork to their collections that is expected to grow in value.

     

    But diving into the art world and the art market can be a mammoth task. What are the best ways to begin your forays into the art world without breaking the bank, and where can you start? We list some of our top tips for starting an art collection on a budget.

  • Art Styles

    An Introduction to Popular African Art
    Amoako Boafo's Aurore Iradukunda, 2020
    Amoako Boafo's Aurore Iradukunda, 2020

    Art historians and artists of African descent have long highlighted the platitudes of the term ‘African art’. Typically, in the canon of art history, African art has been reduced to masks, votive figures, weapons or tapestries. However, curators, African art historians, and creators have been fighting against this one-dimensional view of African cultural output, in the aims of presenting a diverse and rich African arts scene, as variegated and unique as there are as many countries on the continent.

     

    Here at Pavillon54, one of our main missions is also to educate and promote the incredible assortment of artistic styles and techniques that can be found in modern and contemporary African art. We’ve highlighted seven popular art styles that are worldwide and universal, already well-integrated in the art historical canon, but here we are presenting it with a unique African twist. How have modern and contemporary African artists contributed to these popular artistic movements, and who are the key players? Read on to discover more!

  • Art & Power: art creativity and politics from Africa and the diaspora

    A Brief Insight into Reflections of Power, Protest & Leadership
    Chemutai Ng'ok's An Ultimatum, 2019 © Ben Westoboy
    Chemutai Ng'ok's An Ultimatum, 2019 © Ben Westoboy

    Elections always raise hope for political change. October and November 2020 have made no exception, not mentioning the recent military coup and the progressive return to civilian rule in Mali. Guinea, Ivory Coast, Tanzania or the United States have all elected a new President or reappointed the outgoing one. Guinea hasn’t experienced much political stability since its independence. In Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara is about to secure an unprecedented third term as president since the adoption of the third constitution in 2000, "a sacrifice" in his words¹. The presidential mandate of John Magufuli's has been renewed for a second five-year term after Tanzanian elections marked by increased security and the arrestation of opposition leaders. These political transitions often imply a prologue and an aftermath in which the population lets its preferences and reaction heard, and in which (future) appointed leaders assume responsibility. 

     

  • What is Cultural Appropriation and its Relation to African Art?

    If you look at certain industries and social media in the past few years, ‘cultural appropriation’ seems to have become a hot topic, particularly in the fashion and music spheres. For all the talk of cultural appropriation, however, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly cultural appropriation is, and how it can affect everything from the African art market to our individual, day-to-day lives.

  • Wangechi Muti, Forbidden Fruit Picker (2015)
    Wangechi Muti, Forbidden Fruit Picker (2015)

    Take a look at our list of the ten most expensive African artists to date, and you’ll see that women take up a significant proportion of the cut—even taking the top place! Unlike in the Western contemporary art market, top female African artists often see great success and prominence in their careers, on par with their male counterparts. In this article, we break down which seven female African contemporary artists are stealing the show, and the ones you should keep an eye on.

     

  • Why Pavillon 54?

    A word from Dana Endundo Ferreira, Founder of Pavillon 54, about building the global technology platform for African creativity
    by Dana Endundo Ferreira
    Dana Endundo Ferreira, CEO & Founder @ Pavillon54
    Dana Endundo Ferreira, CEO & Founder @ Pavillon54

    A word from Dana Endundo Ferreira, Founder of Pavillon 54, about building the global technology platform for African creativity

     

  • Yinka Shonibare CBE, The British Library 2014 (detail) | © Tate
    Yinka Shonibare CBE, The British Library 2014 (detail) | © Tate

    As auction houses establish sales dedicated to African modern and contemporary art, galleries look to diversify their rosters of artists, and the African art market continues to grow, it is important to take note of which artworks and artists are performing well. This is especially true if you are hoping to make an investment in African art. Below, we have compiled the top 10 most expensive African artists to date, highlighting which works landed them the record-breaking position, and why.

  • El Anatsui

    Of Bonds and Bottle Caps
    El Anatsui's Gravity and Grace Monumental Works (2009), Brooklyn Museum | © Eva Blue-Flickr.jpg
    El Anatsui's Gravity and Grace Monumental Works (2009), Brooklyn Museum | © Eva Blue-Flickr.jpg

    As you descend the steps into the British Museum’s ‘Africa’ wing, you are immediately confronted by a sculpture, large in scale, that resembles a swathe of draped cloth—except the piece is made from bottle tops and discarded wrappers. It is ‘Man’s Cloth’ by El Anatsui, a piece made in his distinctive wall sculpture style. So it is that this Ghanaian contemporary artist cemented himself within African Art History in the eyes of one of the Western world’s most prominent public institutions.

  • Inspired by Africa: Henri Matisse

    Series: Inspired by Africa
    Left: Kuba Cloth from Matisse’s Collection, artist unknown. Right: Matisse's Red Interior still life on a blue table (1942)
    Left: Kuba Cloth from Matisse’s Collection, artist unknown. Right: Matisse's Red Interior still life on a blue table (1942)

    The influences of African art on various artists and movements throughout history recount fascinating stories of cultural exchange, theft, homage and colonialism. In this series of articles, Inspired by Africa, we assess the ways that some of the most famous artists in the world borrowed from African art to create some of their masterpieces. For the third installation of this series, we survey the works of Henri Matisse, and the African countries he took inspiration from.

  • Inspired by Africa: Pablo Picasso

    Series: Inspired by Africa
    Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), oil on canvas, 243.9 cm × 233.7 cm
    Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), oil on canvas, 243.9 cm × 233.7 cm

    The influences of African art on various artists and movements throughout history recount fascinating stories of cultural exchange, theft, homage and colonialism. In this series of articles, Inspired by Africa, we assess the ways that some of the most famous artists in the world borrowed from African art to create some of their masterpieces. First and foremost, we visit the works of perhaps the most acclaimed artist of the modern era: Pablo Picasso.

  • Inspired by Africa: Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Series: Inspired by Africa
    Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled (1982), work in oil stick, acrylic and spray paint
    Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled (1982), work in oil stick, acrylic and spray paint

    The influences of African art on various artists and movements throughout history recount fascinating stories of cultural exchange, theft, homage and colonialism. In this series of articles, Inspired by Africa, we assess the ways that some of the most famous artists in the world borrowed from African art to create some of their masterpieces. For this second exploration, we examine how adored New York artist Jean Michel-Basquiat searched his roots to battle racism and create his unique artistic vision.

  • Yinka Shonibare, CBE (RA)

    A Foot in Two Continents
    Yinka Shonibare's Fake Death Picture (The Suicide - Manet) (2011), digital chromogenic print
    Yinka Shonibare's Fake Death Picture (The Suicide - Manet) (2011), digital chromogenic print

    The story of British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare is one that spans two continents, countries and cultures. He was born in London, but moved to Nigeria when he was three years old, where he spent his childhood. The straddling of these two nations, and ultimately two cultural identities, thus has a profound influence on his work, which often engages with themes of identity, globalisation and post-colonisation.

  • Lubaina Himid's Navigation Charts Spike Island (2017) | © Photo: Stuart Whipps
    Lubaina Himid's Navigation Charts Spike Island (2017) | © Photo: Stuart Whipps

    Lubaina Himid CBE (b.1954) is both an artist and a curator. She has made her mark in the art world by furthering the Black Arts Movement, of which she was one of the primary members in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. She particularly centres her work around black female artists, both in terms of subject matter for her own art, and assisting the careers of fellow women artists.