African art has for the most part been mistakenly associated with craft as the major creative output from the continent. The debates surrounding art and craft, or more accurately, craft as art are endless and the outlook is based purely on what art history discourse your decision is based on. However, many talented African artists have become known in the realms of modern, contemporary art because of their unique understanding of African culture and how it translates into society.
This image was taken from Gum’s Black Coca Cola Series. Known for her African contemporary undertones and subtle appropriation of images found in popular culture, she plays with the idea of identifying with western brands, while remaining true to her heritage and identity. Vogue magazine also dubbed her the “coolest girl” in Cape Town.
Born in Swaziland, Nandipha experiments with using natural materials in her sculptures , and works in photography, painting and video platforms. She is known for her cowhide sculptures pictured above and uses her own body as a basis for all sculptures that have the body as a subject in mind. She says it was never her intention to be an artist, but then decided to apply to Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town and completed her Undergraduate and Masters studies there. She is represented by Michael Stevenson in Cape Town.
Kenyan born Wangechi Mutu is based in New York and known for her investigative approach in her response to culture, gender and mass media iconography. She has a unique way of looking at the female body and her work is visually known in forms of hybridity and abject beauty. Her technical approach to collage-making is systematic and allows for a re-imaged, powerful aesthetic unique to her style in the art making process.
Amalia was born in 1963 and currently lives in Paris. She is presented by Richard Taittinger Gallery in New York, and the work above was taken from her Family Portraits series. She has Ph.D. on Malagasy cultural heritage and also teaches at the National Institute for Heritage and collaborates with the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. Her involvement with heritage protection is inspired by her great grandfather who was a Malagsy painter.
Aida Muluneh is a contemporary photographer from Ethiopa. She settled in Canada with her family in the 80s and later studied film at Howard University in Washington. After she graduated from university, she worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post. I was lucky enough to see her 99 Series and The Wolf You Feed series while it was on exhibit in South Africa in 2015.
South African conceptual artist, Kendall Geers works with a variety of techniques and is mostly known for his sculpture and installation works. He was born in Johannesburg and his works mostly deal with political and natural revolutions in society.
Living between London and Lagos as a child, Shonibare settled in Lagos with his family, only to return to London to study Fine Art. His work explores issues of race and class and he works mostly in photography, painting, sculpture and film. He is known for the use of brightly coloured African batik fabric used in his works.