Strong sales at show 1-54, with more African dealers than ever before

A record number of African galleries (20, out of a total of 47) are participating in the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House in London this week (through October 17), with some dealers enjoying a Newly relaxed pandemic journey. UK rules. South Africa, for example, was taken off the UK government’s “red list” earlier this week, meaning visitors to the country will no longer be subject to a mandatory ten-day hotel quarantine.

“I booked my flight to get to the fair just in time for the installation,” says Julie Taylor, founder of Guns & Rain Gallery in Johannesburg, which offers works by Thina Dube from £ 1,000 and pieces of Botswana earth pigment. -based artist Ann Gollifer, ranging from £ 2,500 to £ 5,000.

Marc Stanes, co-founder of the Ebony / Curated gallery in Cape Town and Franschhoek in the Western Cape of South Africa, said he has sold around 70% of the works of artists such as Kimathi Mafafo and Zemba Luzamba during the forward -first VIP Thursday. “This show has built up a solid base of collectors; institutions are also attending, ”says Stanes, adding that there is currently“ a lot of activity in the African contemporary art market since American collectors started buying a few years ago ”. Prices for works on the stand range from £ 3,500 to £ 14,000.

Aissa Dione, founder of Galerie Atiss Dakar in Senegal, noted that the restrictions of Covid-19 made it “extremely difficult to access here” but nevertheless considers 1-54 as an important platform because “the market is very small in Africa” . His gallery sells Ngimbi Bakambana’s painting Shoes descending a staircase (2021), priced at € 11,000, and the textile item Colors of the “silencers” (2020) by Elolo Bosoka (€ 7,500).

Many participating galleries cite the impact of Frieze, highlighting how attendance at Regent’s Park fairs extends through to the ninth edition of 1-54. “We are getting a larger audience thanks to Frieze,” says Nneoma Ilogu, director of the Lagos-based SMO Contemporary Art gallery, which sold three works by Nigerian artist Deborah Segun at the VIP preview, at the price of £ 6,750 each.

Ethiopian gallery Addis Fine Art, which recently opened its first permanent London location on Eastcastle Street in the gallery district of Fitzrovia, participates in both Frieze London and 1-54. “We want to make sure that we make room in the general public for our artists,” says Rakeb Sile, co-founder of the gallery. Addis Fine Art sold four works by Ethiopian artist Tesfaye Urgessa at the VIP 1-54 preview, priced at £ 10,500 each.

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