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Contemporary African Art Fairs You Need To Know About

Contemporary African art fairs you need to know about
What better way to celebrate and enjoy the contemporary African art talent this continent has to offer than by attending one of the many contemporary African art fairs?
And we aren’t only talking about African art fairs that occur in Africa, but on an international scale as well. 

Our artists are making grand impressions in the contemporary art industry and it’s piqued the interest of art collectors, lovers and fellow creatives worldwide. If you’re behind on the art scene, it’s time to take note of the African art fairs happening throughout the year. 

- Festigraff

Yes, graffiti and street art is considered as contemporary art and, yes, there are festivals (plural) that happen in Africa. Festigraff happens to be a 10-day graffiti art festival that takes place in Dakar, Senegal. 

Graffiti artists attend Festigraff and take to the streets and clean walls with their spray cans and brimming creativity. This street art fair exposes the youth and encourages the emerging creatives to step up and take part in the urban contemporary art movement. 

Street art in Senegal started as a means of beautifying and demanding respect for public walls which were being defiled by locals. It has now grown into an urban movement of empowerment to the people and honour to the city. 

- 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

One of the international contemporary African art fairs we were referring to is 1-54. This is an art fair that is usually hosted in London and New York but was hosted, for the first time this year, in Marrakech, Morocco in February.

The entire art fair is dedicated to contemporary African art and this year’s fair in Marrakech presented 17 galleries and 60 artists from over 20 countries. It was successful as a 1-54 Art Fair installation and brought the world to Africa while African artists were praised and their artworks put on the global contemporary art map. This event was extra special because it was incorporated with the opening of the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden. (These 1-54 art fairs occur on an annual basis with Marrakech as the latest addition to the programme.)

- Investec Cape Town Art Fair

Every year in February the Cape Town Convention Centre welcomes visitors to the Investec Cape Town Art Fair. They plan on including new exclusive events at next year’s fair and will set up their different galleries to highlight varying contemporary art styles accordingly. For example, their SOLO gallery featured solo presentations, the Unframed gallery which showed experimental art pieces and their Tomorrows/Today gallery where the prospected leading artists’ work was displayed. 

This art fair is there to educate the world about contemporary African art while bringing them into the cultural capital of the continent. There are art performances, sculptures, media presentations, photography and paintings by established African artists who have strong messages for society. 

- Also Known As Africa (AKAA)

Another international contemporary African art and design fair happens in Paris, France and is called Also Known As Africa (AKAA). It doesn’t only feature African artworks, but also African-inspired artworks. It’s an art fair that acknowledges Africa as a centre continent where inspirations were drawn from. The goal of the art fair is to “emphasise the diversity of Africa’s spiritual, cultural, commercial and ideological links to other regions of the world, and examine their impact on contemporary art.” 

- Lagos Photo Festival

Heading back into Africa, more specifically Nigeria, for the Lagos Photo Festival. This festival features contemporary photography pieces from a community of African and international photographers over a period of a month. 

There are galleries, workshops, discussions, presentations and outdoor installations that aim to educate people about photography and the African story. This is achieved through images that display the African identity. There’s so much to learn about contemporary African art and how it has evolved. And the Lagos Photo Festival is one of the many necessary festivals that highlight this change in African art

- RMB Turbine Art Fair

If you're looking for a contemporary art festival to attend in the winter time, the RMB Turbine Art Fair takes place around July every year in Newtown, Johannesburg. It’s an art fair where art collectors and visitors can view and buy affordable African art pieces. This makes it the opportune place for beginner collectors to start. 
Contemporary African art fairs you need to know about
The Turbine Art Fair is also said to be one of the more accessible art fairs in the country that don’t intimidate visitors with an upmarket exclusive environment. There are usually around 380 artists, both new and established, who have their art on display. And beyond just the gallery aspect of the fair, they also have panel discussions and presentations.   

From street art to sculptures, installations, performances, photography, fine art and illustrations – Africa does it all, and we have many artists who do it really well. You can find out for yourself by attending one of the above mentioned contemporary art fairs.
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