African Art in London

London / Art / Africa

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London via Lagos @ Oval House Theatre

"Fixer", by Lydia Adetunji - playing at Oval House Theatre, 21 June - 10 July

Keeping track of London’s theatreland would be a full-time job, and I’ve already got one of those (kind of), so I don’t tend to post about plays and the like. However, here’s something I came across recently which I thought I’d mention – a mini-festival of plays exploring connections between two cities, Lagos and London.

I say ‘mini’ – London via Lagos actually goes on from early May until mid-July, taking over South London’s Oval House Theatre with three new British-Nigerian plays. First up is Pandora’s Box by Ade Solanke, taking the middle slot is Little Baby Jesus by Arinze Kene, and last but not least is Fixer (pictured) by Lydia Adetunji. For more info about the plays, playwrights, tickets and times, see the website.

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye @ Corvi-Mora

Aftersong (2011) - Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Late, late, LATE notice about this one: a show by the fantastic painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Notes and Letters is only on for one more week (boo) but the good news is that lots of people have got lots of holiday coming up (hooray!) so perhaps you’ll have the time to get down there and see it.

Yiadom-Boakye is a London-born, London-based artist of Ghanaian descent, who draws extensively on Western romantic and impressionist traditions of portraiture. Think Goya, Manet and Degas; think brooding masculinity, brooding femininity (in fact, general brooding), sidelong glances and plenty of subtext. I first saw her work at the Studio Museum in New York last year, where her portraits of imaginary subjects, staring silently (and often sullenly) at you from their murky surroundings, left me in a state of nervous excitement. Highly recommended.

The show continues until 28th April.

Opening hours:
Tues-Sat, 11-6

1a Kempsford Road (off Wincott Street), London
SE11 4NU


Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography @ V&A

'Martin Machapa' (from the series Beulahs) (2010) - Zanele Muholi

Londoners have been spoilt for choice lately when it comes to African photography, but this show is quite possibly the daddy. Figures and Fictions, which opened today at the V&A, features work from 17 South African photographers, all brought together through the theme of the human figure, South Africa’s turbulent political past, and photographs marking encounters between the two.

The selection includes well-known artists such as David Goldblatt, Santu Mofokeng, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Berni Searle, as well as Zanele Muholi (work pictured) and Nontsikelelo Veleko, both of whom were most recently seen in the Southbank’s show of work by African female photographers.

A proper review will hopefully follow once I manage to get myself down to the V&A, but in the meantime, take note, go, see, and enjoy.

The show continues until 17 July.

NB Ticket prices seem to vary from £4 to £7.40 depending on who you are and how you book.

Opening hours:
Daily, 10–5.30
late opening on Fridays until 9.30

Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London

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Tom Cullberg & Gabrielle Raaff @ Chagan Contemporary

Never Let Me Go (2011) - Tom Cullberg

Next up at South African specialists Chagan Contemporary is a joint show from Tom Cullberg and Gabrielle Raaff. Swedish-born Cullberg studied in Cape Town, where he is now based; his paintings of figures set in broad colour fields are at once tender and slightly sinister. Meanwhile, Raaff’s ‘haikus in paint’, as she describes them, are delightfully concise watercolours which capture the transience of city life, seen from above as if from an open window or rooftop. Neither of these artists have shown in London before, so this is an exciting opportunity to check out some fresh South African talent on the up.

The show continues until 29th April.

By appointment only: call 0795 436 9402

Chagan Contemporary
Hoffman Square, Buttesland Street, London
N1 6BY

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Edward Ofosu @ Open The Gate

Things move quickly at Open The Gate – only a couple of weeks ago I flagged up their new photography show, and now it’s all change again, with an exhibition by Ghanaian-born, London-based painter Edward Ofosu. Beyond Form features new work combining abstract and figurative elements, with Ofosu’s trademark lavish use of colour. According to Ofosu, his art is about expanding our horizons – an open invitation for us all to ‘meet at the place of no place’.

The show continues until 27th April.

Opening hours:
Sun-Thurs, 12-12
Fri-Sat, 12-2

Open The Gate
33-35 Stoke Newington Rd, London
N16 8BJ


Ayoola Gbolahan @ arc Gallery

Continuing their work of giving Nigerian artists exposure in the London art scene, arc‘s new show opens this week with work by abstract expressionist painter Ayoola Gbolahan. Horizons promises to showcase some of the artist’s figurative works, which recently saw him listed among the 101 Nigerian contemporary artists featured in a new book on the subject. You can find out more about the artist at his website.

Private View: Thurs 7th April, 6–9
Show: 8th April – 3rd May

Opening hours:
Tues-Fri, 11-6.30
Sat-Sun, 12.30-5.30

arc Gallery
Barge Belle, 11 Hale Wharf Ferry Lane, London
N17 9NF