Pop Culture and Memorabilia by Wole Lagunju references both traditional Yoruba culture – through the Gelede mask worn by the central figure – as well as our own obsession with fashion and eleganza. The objets in the painting further establish the complex and entangled historical frame of the the subject where pre and post-colonial histories collide for our biggest enjoyment.
Malcolm X by Geneva based artist O’Maurice Mboa is painted on an aluminium sheet, scratched and carved to produce a unique texture and relief. Emerging from a crowded forest of leaves against an intricate blue background, the figure captures the visionary essence of the leader, the wounds on his face both index his tragic destiny and further enhance the charisma and power of the figure. A vision in its own right, Malcolm X explores questions of identity and of our place in the world: a powerful mystery where humanity, nature and spirituality coalesce, never more so than in the magic presence of charismatic leaders like Malcom X.
Wallen Maondera’s Melting Target is a superb and intricate work made with recycled cardboard woven on distressed canvas. It makes a powerful statement on access to essential goods and failing dreams in his native Zimbabwe.
Inspired by the urban setting of his native Abidjan and the violent political unrest of 2010, Aboudia captures the vibrancy and urgency of the capital’s streets in his immediately recognisable graffiti style laced with popular culture references. His provocative depiction of cartoony childlike figures through brutal lines of colour conjure a fascinating world saturated with flowing energy, violence, youth and the drive to survive in the African metropolis.
In Black Scream, South African artist Anton Kannemeyer captures the angst of the rainbow nation in a post-Mandela world plagued with economic decline, polarising political discourse and rising violence. Black Scream is a new radical interpretation of Munch’s Scream which he has displaced onto the Nelson Mandela bridge, in downtown Joburg, using his trademark black figure inspired by Hergé’s racist colonial grammar from Tintin in the Congo.
Zimbabwean artist Masimba Hwati is known for his mixed media sculptures made of found objects, beautiful urban totems which combine traditional cultural artefacts as well as contemporary discarded material in new radical compositions. His powerful installations seem to announce the coming of a new world beyond what we have know so far.
Radio gaga! Kidole by Cyrus Kabiru – when someone’s trash turns into treasure: a funky composition made with found objects from Nairobi’s urban material culture.
Dance Floor by Cyrus Kabiru
This bright-coloured painting by Vincent Michéa conjures the nostalgic ambiance and pop aesthetic of the African Belle Epoque, a glamorous world gone by. Vintage sensations guaranteed.
South African photographer Kristin Lee Moolman has worked for Vogue, Dazed, I-D and has explored the ever-changing social and political landscape of contemporary Africa. In her portrait of Belgian rapper Baloji who wears a mask by Norwegian artist Damselfrau, she conjures a beautiful utopian vision which questions boundaries of race and gender and collapses oppositions between the human and the animal, the contemporary and the tribal. Bleu de Nuit welcomes us into a brave new world.
Léonce Raphael Agbodjelou is one of the leading photographers working in Africa today, now collaborating with fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton. He is known for his portraiture and studies in his native Benin, in particular in the capital Porto-Novo. In his haunting Egungun series, he has captured the power and extraordinary presence of the Yoruba masqueraders set in their traditional setting, both human and profoundly otherworldly.
The work of Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru toes the fine lines between art, design and fashion, photography and sculpture. He designs and produces the incredible facial sculptures he calls C-Stunners which are all unique and one of a kind, made of found objects and recycled material he sources himself. Surreal and powerful, connecting the human, the animal, the city and the world at large, his auto-portraits continue his expanded exploration of the self.
Joseph Tetteh-Ashong better known as Paa Joe is the leading Ghanaian fantasy coffin artist and his works have been included in museums collections all over the world. His extravagant designs represent the life of the deceased in all their glory and passions, a colourful memory and tribute where humour is never far away. Why should death be sad, black and depressing? Paa Joe’s work is always a celebration life, more than anything else. Here, the iconic Walkman for a music lover and a miniature Supreme LV bag for the fashionista.
Isaac Zavale is a Mozambican artist based in Joburg recently showcased at the Investec Art Fair in Cape Town in 2020. His work is inspired by his surroundings, the gritty and vibrant inner city life of downtown Joburg which he depicts with incredible detail in his unique barbershop style. Gold Rush is an ironic fresque on the downside of the City of Gold.
The work of Ivorian artist Demba Camara draws from popular culture and science fiction to create funky contemporary power objects – often robots – reminiscent of traditional statues of the Ivory Coast save for the bright colours, found objects and recycled material that he integrates in his production. Meet Brooter, the brooding robot!
The work of Ivorian artist Demba Camara draws from popular culture and science fiction to create funky contemporary power objects – often robots – reminiscent of traditional statues of the Ivory Coast save for the bright colours, found objects and recycled material that he integrates in his production. Meet Generickos, the friendly non-binary robot with male and female attributes (on either side)!
This beautiful Totem dated 1991 by late Nigerian sculptor Ben Osawe is one of the few pieces of modern art showcased at the gallery. Totem is an intriguing work of formal beauty with an incredible patina, sitting comfortably in a mysterious land somewhere between the traditional and the modern. It radiates a powerful yet benevolent presence.
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