African Art in London

London / Art / Africa

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Meschac Gaba @ Tate Modern

Artist: Meschac Gaba

Draft Room

Draft Room

From: Cotonou, Benin
Medium: Painter. Sculptor. Museum Builder.
Key Themes: Developmental politics. Commercialism. The role of the Western museum. Public space.

About the artist:
– Gaba started out painting until he stumbled across a sack of decommissioned money that had been turned into a bag of confetti. To Gaba this found material of devalued West African CFA franc was ‘magic’ and he eventually used it to make collaged paintings.
– His two year residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 1996 led the Beninese artist to tussle with the question ‘Where do you show African contemporary art?’, as the only place he could find was an ethnographic museum. This spurred him on to create his most ambitious work, the anti-museum creation The Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002
– Until Tate Modern acquired the Museum Gaba was its keeper, he and his family had been living in and conserving it in a large space in Rotterdam

Architecture Room

Architecture Room

About the exhibition:
– The Museum of Contemporary African Art is made up of 12 idiosyncratic rooms that in total took five years to plan.
– The key to Gaba’s exhibition is interaction, visitors are encouraged to get stuck in. There is a Game Room, where you can rearrange puzzles based on African flags to look like abstract paintings. An Art and Religion Room full of random knick-knacks and religious artefacts, occasionally a tarot reader visits.
– There’s also a Museum Restaurant that curators will use to will host dinners and a Museum Shop which contains objects contributed by other artists.
The most consistent elements across the rooms is decommissioned banknotes and the dots and pellets made from them, Gaba.

Art and Religion

Art and Religion Room

What critics say: “…Gaba’s vision tore through my expectations of what art is and how it relates to our ordinary, irreplaceable lives.” – Johnathan Jones, The Guardian

What AAIL says: Gaba is one of two African visionaries that the Tate Modern is making a big deal of this summer. His museum within a museum is an exhibition not to be missed, not least because its free. Gaba’s work is a must for anyone who enjoys interacting with art and key to those thinking about the ways in which African art work is viewed and shared. Also look out for a host of fun events – tours, dinners, talks – accompanying Gaba’s work.


3 July – 22 September

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG

Opening Hours
Sunday – Thursday: 10.00–18.00
Friday – Saturday: 10.00–22.00


El Anatsui @ The Royal Academy of Arts

Feeling defeated by the lack of London sun? Craving light, colour, ebullience?

Then make your way down to the Royal Academy of Arts’ Burlington House which is draped in the glimmering meshwork of El Anatsui’s TSIATSIA – Searching for Connection (2013).

TSIATSIA - Searching for Connection, 2013

TSIATSIA – Searching for Connection, 2013

The courtyard installation – which at the beginning of this month won the Charles Wollaston Award – is the stunning opener to the Royal Academy of Arts 245th Summer Exhibition. Measuring at 15.6m x 25m it is the largest wall-hanging sculpture that Nigerian artist Anatsui has ever created and is formed using his unique technique and combination of materials including bottle-tops, printing plates and roofing sheets.

The artist explains: When you collect them from the streets – and it is important to me that all these caps have been used, touched and so loaded with what I think of as a human charge – they give you a sense of the sociology and the history of a place.

Anatsui is a Ghana born, internationally acclaimed artist with a forty year career as both sculptor and teacher. He was Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His work often addresses a wide range of social, political and historical concerns.

Anatsui’s work is hanging from the balustrade of Burlington House for the duration of the Summer Exhibition (until 18 August).

Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London W1J 0BD

020 7300 8000


Trends in Contemporary Nigerian Art Talk @ SOAS

Two of Nigeria’s most distinguished contemporary artists will be at the School of Oriental and African Studies this Thursday.

Ben Osaghae and Fidelis Odogwu, both alumni of Nigeria School of Art Polytechnic in Edo State will be discussing trends in contemporary Nigerian art.

Ben Osaghae has been described as a ‘social chronicler’. His paintings, drawings and mixed media creations contemplate the mundaneness of daily life. A discerning colourist, his work is often identified by bright figures floating on the wide, flat surface of his canvas. Osaghae’s work is often charged with political opinion revealing of his frustrations with regards to the development of his country.

Endurance March, 2011

Endurance March, 2011

Fidelis Odogwu is a sculptor who works within the visual narratives of Nigerian art, using repetitive designs and traditional motifs. Odogwu is able to transform masses of metal into objects that look fit for astral travel. He is a master of shape and symmetry using zig-zags, spirals, and parallel lines to symbolize forces of nature. His art work retains a preoccupation with outdoor environments and man’s connectedness to the universe.

Fulani Herdsmen, 2011

Fulani Herdsmen, 2011

Thursday, 23 May


School of Oriental and African Studies

Room B102
1st Floor, Brunei Gallery Building
Opposite  main Building SOAS
Thornhaugh Street,  Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG