Africa’s Contemporary Art Boom
I walked into the Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) on London’s Cork Street in Mayfair two weeks ago. Opposite the Burlington Arcade, right at the heart of the art establishment, on gallery row itself, African art formerly seen as a niche interest, now officially playing with the big boys. And the best thing… GAFRA is owned and run by a woman: Liberian born Bendu Cooper.
Just down the road in Oxford Circus is Tiwani Contemporary, a gallery that specializes in Nigerian art, also run by a woman, this time Maria Varnava who spent her childhood in West Africa. Tiwani partners with the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos, again run by another woman, Bisi Silva. It would appear that women are at the vanguard of raising the profile of contemporary African art. And for those who may point out that three female curators do not a trend make, name checks to Chief Nike Okundaye, Touria El Glaoui and Rakeb Sile to list a few.