African Art in London

London / Art / Africa

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Owanto @ the internet

Fresh from her London Design Museum show, French-Gabonese artist Owanto brings us another football-related project, inspired by her work with The Panthers, Gabon’s national football team. Clap Your Hands takes a Panthers ritual – clapping their hands to focus before a game – and transforms it into a worldwide, virtual project by inviting us all to upload a video of hands clapping to one of several project platforms – Youtube, Facebook, Twitter… Find out more at the Creative Africa Network, or check out the Facebook page. You can watch a short video about the Gabon football shirt that started the whole thing off here.

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Raimi Gbadamosi @ Bracknell Gallery

Child's Play 2 (installation) - Raimi Gbadamosi

I hesitate to include this exhibition here, partly because it’s not really in London, but mostly because I feel sure that the artist would have a thing or two to say about being mentioned on a site about ‘African art’. However. With apologies to Raimi Gbadamosi for the limitations of a blog post like this (and thanks to Elsbeth Court for the tip-off), I’d like to draw attention to his current show, Banquet, which is ongoing at the Bracknell Gallery, a little over an hour from London Waterloo by train.

Taking dining, conversation and social and behavioural codes as its starting point, the installation promises to explore the complex social interactions that play out across a celebratory dinner table, using the artist’s characteristic black, white and yellow theme. Gbadamosi is a British artist with a Doctorate in Fine Art from the Slade, and has done extensive scholarly and curatorial work alongside his artistic practice. His thought-provoking investigations into diversity, race and representation have earned him frequent slots at events aiming to explore and explode such issues, especially where deconstructing an artistic, geographical, racial or any other category is concerned. Gbadamosi’s work on Africa in this context has been key, and it is in this capacity that I include him here, as part of this site’s attempt to side-step expectations and question what ‘African art’ might be.

I first encountered Gbadamosi’s colour conundrum at a symposium coinciding with Tate Liverpool’s Afromodern exhibition last year. If I remember rightly, after a brief and perplexing introduction, the artist randomly distributed colour cards – ‘I am Black’, ‘I am White’ and ‘I am Yellow’ – to the audience before asking each group to find one another. Once we’d done that, after much shuffling of chairs and awkward questioning of total strangers about ‘which colour’ they were, we were instructed to return to our seats. And that was it. It sounds bizarre, but as an unwitting participant in one of Gbadamosi’s category-busting performance-cum-experiments, I can honestly say that it made a lasting impression. His work does not offer many answers, but it raises important questions in playful and compelling ways that totally avoid the pitfalls of over-earnestness and obviousness (not to mention boringness) that often threaten to scupper ‘identity art’.

For more on Gbadamosi’s tri-colour concept (and for a good idea of what his cryptic approach entails) see his website, here. There’s some more info about him here.

The show continues until 29th January.

Opening hours:
Wed, 7 – 9.30
Thu, Fri, Sat, 1 – 9.30
Sun, 1 – 5

Bracknell Gallery
South Hill Park Arts Centre
South Hill Park, Ringmead, Bracknell
RG12 7PA

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Abdoulaye Konaté @ Iniva

Window Commission at Rivington Place - Abdoulaye Konaté (2011)

Abdoulaye Konaté’s window commission at Rivington Place is up! And, after a visa-related delay which meant he was unable to attend his scheduled talk earlier this week, the artist will now be participating in an informal chat and drinks at Rivington Place tomorrow, Friday 9 December, from 5-6pm.

Incidentally, on the vexed subject of artist visas, I recently heard about this campaign, which aims to tackle the strict new visa regulations introduced in the last couple of years, and advocates for greater freedom of movement across borders for artists. You can read and sign the petition here – take a look.

Rivington Place, London

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The Tie That Binds Us @ Tiwani Contemporary

New information has emerged about London’s latest African contemporary art venture, Tiwani Contemporary – in a correction to my last post, I can now confirm that the gallery’s inaugural exhibition will open on 7th December, continuing until 21st January. A group show, it will feature work in various media by Mary Evans, Lawson Oyekan (last seen across town at Canary Wharf), Emeka Ogboh, Adolphus Opara (fresh from Tate Modern’s show) and Ben Osaghae. More info here.

7th December – 21st January

Opening hours:
Tues-Sat, 10-6
(20th Dec – 3rd Jan by appointment – call +44 (0) 20 7631 3808)

Tiwani Contemporary
16 Little Portland Street, London