African Art in London

London / Art / Africa

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Kimathi Donkor @ Iniva, Rivington Place

When Shall We 3? (Scenes from the life of Njinga Mbandi) (2010) – Kimathi Donkor

Better late than never: I’m slow off the mark with this one, but there’s an intriguing sounding exhibition on at Iniva at the moment called Queens of the Undead, featuring large-scale paintings by artist Kimathi Donkor.

The ‘queens’ in question are heroic women from the history of Africa and its diasporas, whom Donkor celebrates in works which reflect on ‘the undead glory of charismatic black women who each helped define the modern world’. These new commissions are shown alongside earlier works which create thematic dialogues with Western oil painting. 

The show continues until 24th November.

Opening hours: Tues-Fri, 11.00-18.00 (Thurs until 21.00), Sat, 12.00-18.00

Rivington Place

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‘Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom’ @ TEDxEuston

Thanks to Dr Ike Anya for putting this on my radar: the next TEDxEuston event is now open for booking, and places fill up fast, so if you want to attend, act quickly.

As the ‘x’ indicates, TEDxEuston is an independently organised TED event. The only Africa-focused TEDx event held outside the African continent, it ‘aims to reflect ideas and inspired thinking of a new generation of African leaders’.

This year’s event has the theme ‘Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom’, and has a great line-up of speakers, with a handful of big hitters from the arts and cultural sectors – novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, digital artist Jepchumba and novelist and journalist Aminatta Forna – alongside high-flyers in the worlds of business and politics.

It’s a non-profit event (speakers and organisers are unpaid); attendance costs £70 (or £50 if you’re a student) and includes meals all day and the after party. You can register here.

Sat 1 December 2012, 10:30-22:30

The Mermaid Conference and Event Centre
Puddle Dock, Blackfriars, London

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Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou @ Jack Bell

Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou

Is this unprecedented? There are currently two solo exhibitions by artists from Benin in London. While Gérard Quenum’s current show at the October Gallery involves creepy but cute dolls and a whimsical take on transnational histories, across town at Jack Bell Gallery, there’s a somewhat different vision of Porto-Novo from photographer Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou. Demoiselles de Porto Novo features a crumbling Afro-Brazilian mansion, in which masked, semi-nude women pose rather uncomfortably. What it all means, I cannot say, but here are a few ideas from Jack Bell.

The show continues until 20th October.

Opening hours: 11.00-18.00, Tues-Sat

Jack Bell Gallery
13 Masons Yard, St James’s, London


Gérard Quenum @ October Gallery

Moine (Monk) (2012) – Gérard Quenum

As someone who mostly enjoyed playing with wooden bricks, crayons, twigs and mud as a child, I’ve never felt particularly interested in dolls, especially the plastic kind. But sculptor Gérard Quenum’s latest exhibition at October Gallery could change that. When I first saw his art works – most of which use recycled dolls, along with other found objects – I thought they were profoundly creepy, but after a while they won me over with their disconcerting but weirdly moving baby stares. Quenum’s new show, Dolls Never Die, presents a range of new sculptures and an installation tracing the multiple stories and paths that converge in his home town of Porto-Novo. 

The show continues until 27th October.

Opening hours: 12.30-17.30, Tues-Sat

October Gallery
24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London

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David Goldblatt in conversation @ Barbican

From the series ‘Ex-Offenders’ – David Goldblatt

This Thursday evening, renowned South African photographer David Goldblatt is in conversation with artist duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin at the Barbican.

I was very moved by Goldblatt’s Ex-Offenders series at the Rencontres in Bamako last November, and some of you may have seen his work in London earlier last year at the V&A alongside the Figures and Fictions exhibition. I posted about the Broomberg/Chanarin show in Dublin this Spring here. A great combination, which should throw up some fascinating questions about photography in South Africa and beyond.

Event: Thursday 13th September, 7pm

Tickets: £8 online / £10 on the door, book here

Frobisher Auditorium 1, Barbican Centre
Silk Street, London

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Happening To Be / Already Here @ Central St Martin’s

Two shows coming up at Central St Martin’s:

Happening To Be, a show featuring an impressive line-up of five artists/directors/designers who ‘happen to be’ black: Yinka Shonibare MBE, Trevor Robinson CBE, Ngozi Onwurah, Professor Andrew Ramroop OBE, and Professor Ablade Glover OBE. The show is part of the Shades of Noir project, which address issues of race, ethnicity and attainment in arts education at University of the Arts London.

Alongside this show is Already Here, an exhibition of work by black students and graduates from UAL.

Happening To Be: 10th Sept – 27th Oct

Mon – Fri 10.00 – 18.00, Sat 10.00 – 16.00 (closed on 15 and 29 Sept)

Lethaby Gallery
Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design
Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London


Already Here: 11th Sept – 27th Oct

Window Galleries
Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design
Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London