Central Africa

1-54 Art Fair Returns to London

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For the 11th consecutive year, Somerset House in London welcomes back the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. From October 12 to 15, 2023, this exhibition boasts its largest gathering yet, featuring 62 international exhibitors and 14 new galleries. The heart of the fair will pulsate with diverse mediums—painting, sculpture, mixed media, and installation.

Angèle Etoundi Essamba- Africanesse, 1992, Silver Gelatin Print, 40.7 x 50.5cm, Edition 2. Courtesy of Doyle Wham. Image courtesy of Instagram.

Founded in 2013 by Touria El Glaoui, 1-54 has been a pioneering force on the global stage for contemporary African art. It stands as the singular international fair dedicated to this genre. With events recurring in London, New York, and Marrakech and a pop-up in Paris, 1-54 emerges as the premier worldwide art fair championing contemporary African and diasporic art.

Beyond its art display, 1-54 nurtures a diverse community of viewpoints, elevating evolving interpretations of the diasporic journey. The fair presents distinguished international galleries specializing in contemporary African art. Alongside these exhibitions, 1-54 hosts artist talks, panel discussions, and a Special Projects program. The fair’s name, “1-54,” reverently acknowledges the fifty-four countries constituting the African continent. Together, these initiatives amplify the voices, narratives, and creativity of contemporary African art across the globe.

Among the anticipated artworks is the collaborative masterpiece “Illuminate the Light” by Moroccan artist Amine El Gotaibi and MCC Gallery. This work boasts twelve geometric sculptures inspired by pomegranate seeds, symbolizing Africa’s diversity and illuminated by light. The medium defies Western stereotypes of the “dark continent.” As daylight fades, these sculptures metamorphose into luminous installations, embodying the philosophy that “out of darkness, light emerges.”

 Amine El Gotaibi, From the Mountain to the Desert and from the Desert to the Mountain, 2022, Stale model for a monumental installation, corten steel and copper, 60 x 70 x 20 cm.Image courtesy of Instagram.

1-54 maintains a steadfast partnership with Christie’s, dedicated to showcasing contemporary African art worldwide. This partnership manifests in the 1-54 London House exhibition at Somerset House this year. Additionally, their collaboration with Artsy allows visitors to virtually explore, connect with, and collect artworks during the art fair.

Author

Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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