5 African Countries that Shone at Investec Cape Town Art Fair
Hailing from Zimbabwe, Angola, Senegal, Mozambique and the Ivory Coast, these are the standout talents spotted at Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2019.
This year's Investec Cape Town Art Fair, which took place from 15-17 February, featured a wide range of thought-provoking contemporary art from around the world. But the standout pieces of the weekend were by artists from a variety of African countries. Here are our top picks.
Zimbabwe: Bold Creativity with Discomforting Depth
Amanda Mushate (First Floor Gallery, Harare)
Hailing from Harare, Zimbabwe, Amanda Mushate is a truly exciting artist. Driven by her fascination of relationships, she embraces mixed media to conceive entrancing, thought-provoking pieces. They demand that you look closely, to try to follow her patterns and purpose, and then to step back to take it all in. Hers are some of the works you can stand in front of for hours, and keep seeing something new. Which is exactly why her oeuvre feels like a breath of fresh air. While the Investec Cape Town Art Fair showcased her oils on canvas, Mushate is also known for creating brilliant sculptural pieces.
Troy Makaza (First Floor Gallery, Harare)
Zimbabwean Troy Makaza walked away from the Investec Cape Town Art Fair as 2019’s Tomorrow’s Today winner for good reason. Creating in full cognisance of his troubled homeland, Makaza asks the poignant question: how much creativity can you have left at the end of a day of queueing for petrol and food to feed your children? For Makaza, his work is a defiance of the risk that imagination, creativity and – with them – truth become a casualty of Zimbabwe’s turmoil. Embracing texture and tangibility through mediums like deftly draped, knotted and moulded silicone, Makaza demands your attention through his work – at times, uncomfortably.
Ivory Coast: Rich Symbolism, Sublime Results
Ernest Dükü (LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery)
Born in the Ivory Coast and now working between Paris and Abidjan, Ernest Dükü’s work is immediately recognisable. A distinctive use of circles and symbolism, almost always centred around a face or faces, typify his creative style. It’s his use of symbolism that is especially interesting: explore his pieces for emblems, euphemisms and ritualistic patterns pertaining to everything from Christianity and Islam to ancient Egypt and the Akan people. Not surprisingly, Dükü has been selected to represent the Ivory Coast at this year’s Venice Biennale.
Angola: Haunting Masterpieces
António Ole (Ela Espaço Luanda Arte)
António Ole is no stranger to the global art scene – his works frequent modern and contemporary African art auctions around the globe. Yet the impact of seeing his creativity in the flesh remains a thrill. The Investec Cape Town Art Fair showcased pieces from his Drought series. Bold and bright, yet haunting and questioning, they pay homage to his homeland, Angola, and the themes still reverberating from its history: colonialism, civil war, survival.
Mozambique: Deconstructing Death
Gonçalo Mabunda (This Is Not a White Cube, based in Angola)
If you’re ever viewing Gonçalo Mabunda’s work, it’s perhaps important to understand two things: he is an anti-war activist and he calls Mozambique home. Appreciate this, and the meaning behind so much of what he creates unlocks, with powerful impact.
Mabunda, like Ole, is another heavyweight from the continent, high on collectors’ lists. And unsurprisingly, he garnered plenty of attention at Investec Cape Town Art Fair. Harnessing weapons from Kalashnikov rifles to rockets, Mabunda deconstructs death, turning it into sculptural wonders with arresting impact.
Senegal: Paradoxical Patterns
Kassou Seydou (Galerie Cécile Fakhoury)
Senegalese artist Kassou Seydou is certainly one to watch. Already much celebrated at the Dakar Biennale, it seems only a matter of time before we will see his work on stages outside of the continent. Starting from the observation that everything is a script, and that a script is a distorted line, Seydou uses recurrent shapes to reimagine the world around him. The result is a paradoxical sense that his artworks are using order and repetition to narrate stories and ideas that are, in fact, deeply disordered.