“I can see that the different African blocs, lusophone [Portuguese-speaking], anglophone and francophone, evolve at different paces. The anglophone bloc is way ahead, thanks to artists from Nigeria and black artists in the UK and US.”
In Britain, in recent years, the work of Keith Piper, Lubaina Himid, Sonia Boyce, Hew Locke, Chris Ofili or John Akomfrah, all of African or Caribbean heritage, have addressed similar issues, in their own ways. “What’s important now is to remain united to push this progress forward on the continent itself,” Barreto adds.
For Touria El Glaoui, the founder of 1-54 and daughter of Hassan El Glaoui, one of the most significant African modernist artists, the landscape of today for African artists has definitely changed for the better compared to 2011, when she launched her project. “We are in two different universes; the perception of the African artist has radically changed,” she says. The fair also takes place every year in New York and Marrakesh, in Morocco, where Touria is from, with special events, panel discussions led by African curators, and solo shows for emerging artists.
“We’re honoured to have Grada Kilomba this year, she’s an artist of great ambition,” Touria adds. “Her performance involves 27 people, creating with her the music, dancing and singing; it represents so much of what my project always aimed for. I believe artists can be stronger voices for these discussions on black and African history, each of them in different ways and different ideas, as Hassan Hajjaj, Julie Mehretu, Michael Armitage or Nú Barreto do. They offer some of the best ways to address complex issues and raise awareness.”
O Barco / The Boat is at Somerset House, London until 20 October (accompanied by live musical performance at 5pm BST on 13 October and 1pm BST on 14 October). 1-54 London 2022 takes place until 16 October.
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