Marlon Amaro, We have love inside of us, 2021, Oil, spray and glitter on canvas, 156 x 153 cm. Courtesy of HOA Galeria.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair London (IRL) is back!

Cheryl McIntosh, Memories of the motherland, 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 100 x 120 cm. Courtesy of LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery.1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Cheryl McIntosh, Memories of the motherland, 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 100 x 120 cm. Courtesy of LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery.

The ninth edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House will take place from 14 to 17 October 2021 and will feature work from 48 leading international galleries from 23 countries across Europe, Africa and North America. Among the exhibitors this year are 20 galleries from Africa, a record number of galleries from the continent, and of the 48 exhibitors, 14 galleries will be welcomed to the London fair for the first time.

1-54 London 2021 Exhibitors:

1-54 Forum

The fair will be accompanied by 1-54 Forum, an extensive programme of artist talks, panels, screenings, performances and readings that will be curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation, and will take place both online and at Somerset House.

Entitled Continental Drift, the Forum is a choreography that will unfold in slow-motion over the course of 1-54 London 2021. Transmutations of time and the anxious hysteria of the free-wheeling present collide in an interwoven series of exchanges that unfold in conversation, song, and dance that echo across broad expanses of time. Across four days, hushed silences find their expression in intimate moments staged between artists and audiences; mediators and narrators, who collectively delve into themes of legacy, philanthropy, and digitality.

Exploring this interstitial moment in history, 1-54 Forum explores the concept of the drift as a moment for gradual reflection—a cumulative act of knowledge gathering, a dance from one end of the continent to another, oscillating gently: deep time in constant motion. Conceived as a symphonic reverie—a production of tessellating forms, movement, and action unfold as dissonant variations traveling through topics and themes that encompass ecology and ruin, antiquity and futurism. Conceived in fragments, Continental Drift is a modular concerto that explores the engine of empire; the jagged contours of history; the imagined scarcity of resources and how these various facets converge into resounding rendition—an imagined landscape for the future. Part ballad, part pop song; minor details and minor feelings rise to the surface—amplified into an interleaving chamber of resonant voices.

The ‘voice’ in this context is intended to embody a polyphonic spree of dissonant varieties, invoking concepts of Négritude and Black emotion; exploring solidarity movements; moments of rupture, fracture, and re-constitution to proffer a context for new forms of visual culture to emerge. In this regard, ‘the drift’ is conceived as a collective act of marching, in slow motion, towards the future. Discover the complet program of the 1-54 Forum here.

Specials projects and Christies x 1-54

Lakwena Maciver commissioned for 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture at Somerset House

Lakwena Maciver, Nothing Can Separate Us, 2021, Hand-stitched patchwork with appliqué, 116 x 153 cm. Courtesy of Vigo Gallery 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Lakwena Maciver, Nothing Can Separate Us, 2021, Hand-stitched patchwork with appliqué, 116 x 153 cm. Courtesy of Vigo Gallery

London-based artist Lakwena Maciver, has been selected for the 2021 edition of the 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission. With the support of Vigo Gallery, Maciver will be creating 20 large and interactive basketball paintings in her signature bold style.

Along with the basketball paintings that will take over the courtyard this fall, Lakwena Maciver’s powerful Nothing Can Separate Us flags will fill the Somerset House West Wing corridor. Each of the 12 flags is hand-stitched and boasts a unique colour combination. First conceived as a painting in 2020, the work evolved into a larger series that took on a wider meaning as the world witnessed the harsh reality of the coronavirus pandemic. As London, and the rest of the world, has slowly emerged from lockdown, the message on the flags still resonates deeply. The flag installation at Somerset House follows a public installation by the artist in Covent Garden, where flags bearing the same Nothing Can Separate Us message lined King Street and Henrietta Street. 

Redefining The Trend – Histories in the making

Additionally, as part of the programme of 1-54 Special Projects, the fair will once again be partnering with Christie’s to present REDEFINING THE TREND – Histories in the Making, an exhibition at the Duke Street space curated by art historian and art critic Christine Eyene. The exhibition explores how new artistic practices from Africa and the diaspora contribute to the defining of present aesthetics, discourses, and creative processes while opening new chapters in the continent’s art histories.

Bringing together works created over the past year, during what we have come to know as ‘unprecedented times,’ this exhibition looks at how artists navigate the unknown through artistic visions that reassert their creative approach and allow scope for experimentation. The selection of works emphasises the variety and richness of the materials used and techniques developed by the artists. Through this, coming to the fore are personal and collective histories, and societal issues, envisaged from reflective, abstract, and process-based perspectives.

REDEFINING THE TREND posits practices at a particular moment that is both contemporary and historical. It also anchors them in a context that is producing ruptures from which only something new can emerge.

Partnership with Christie’s + NFTs at 1-54

Osinachi, POOL DAY II – PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Daria Borisova. Osinachi will be participating in ‘The Virtual Salon’ on Thursday, 14 October at 19:00 GMT 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Osinachi, POOL DAY II – PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Daria Borisova. Osinachi will be participating in ‘The Virtual Salon’ on Thursday, 14 October at 19:00 GMT

1-54 Online Powered by Christie’s will also return, providing a virtual experience where visitors will encounter additional works displayed by participating galleries as well as highlights from the fair itself.

From Thursday 14 – Sunday 31 October 2021, works from 1-54 will be available to purchase and view on Artsy for an extended period of time following the close of the official show.

1-54 in collaboration with Christie’s presents an auction of Nigerian crypto-artist Osinachi’s NFT series Different Shades of Water. For the first time, Christie’s will have a presence at an art fair with a booth showcasing Osinachi’s NFTs. The digital artworks associated with the NFTs will be on view at 1-54 London 2021, curated by Daria Borisova. The online NFT auction will mark the first NFT by a contemporary African artist offered by Christie’s in Europe and is the first NFT collaboration for 1-54. The digital artworks associated with the NFTs in Different Shades of Water will be exhibited at Somerset House during the fair, with the online-only auction for the NFTs, First Open: Post-War and Contemporary Art Online, taking place from 5 to 19 October. Christie’s partnership with 1-54 demonstrates the auction house’s commitment to showcasing contemporary African art to their global client base. This is in addition to the 1-54 Online Powered by Christie’s platform that enhances exposure internationally.

Considered Africa’s foremost crypto artist, Osinachi (born Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, 1991), is a Nigerian visual artist whose work explores personal experiences within a technological environment. Aesthetically and procedurally, Osinachi’s work explores visible existence as protest by depicting and reimagining how individuals and collectives engage in advocacy for freedom of identity by thwarting societal expectations. Find out more about the complet Special Projects here.

1-54 Annual book

1-54 Annual Book available for pre-order. © 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
1-54 Annual Book available for pre-order.

Having published over 15 highly regarded and celebrated fair catalogues since its founding in 2013, 1-54 announces the creation of a new ouvrage which is set to be launched at their London edition: The 1-54 Annual Book.

The 1-54 Annual Book is quintessential of all the artists, galleries, programming and knowledge platformed at and presented by 1-54 over a single year. The inaugural 1-54 Annual Book is a substantial endeavour that will include four editions of the fair from 2020 – 2021: 1-54 London 2020; 1-54 Paris 2021; 1-54 New York 2021 and 1-54 London 2021. Alongside a biography and work for every artist presented (300+) and a profile about every gallery (60+), the book also includes transcriptions of three of the most impactful and memorable panel discussions at 1-54 Forum and unique artist interviews.

The 1-54 Annual Book, is a reflection of a year of challenges where adaptation was the keyword. It is a statement of creativity, innovation, resilience, and a commitment to the broader mission: the fair’s dedication to showcasing contemporary art from Africa and its diasporas. Pre-order now here!

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
14 – 17 October 2021
Somerset House – London

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