Current Issue #488

The art of contemporary Africa

The art of contemporary Africa

The exhibition Sanaa: A Better World Through Creativity showcases a burgeoning contemporary African art scene that is diverse, vibrant and will challenge people’s perceptions of African art.

Sanaa highlights the diversity of Africa’s contemporary art scene, including artists working in street art, painting, installation, video installation and photography. It is curated by documentary filmmaker Victoria Lewis (who travelled to East Africa in 2015 to film a short, Slum Ballet, about the power of community art).

“I went there on a whim and I found this incredible art scene and I wanted to bring that art to Adelaide, in particular, as many people here haven’t seen that,” Lewis says. “It’s challenging people’s perceptions. They don’t really know much about the art scene in Africa.”

Mwamba Chikwemba, Chitambala, 2018, acrylic and pastels on canvas, 168 x 240cm
Chitambala, Mwamba Chikwemba, 2018

It was during this and subsequent trips to East and West Africa where Lewis met the visual artists she works with today through not-for-profit organisation Sanaa Ink, which explores diverse cultures through art.

“This year, we are representing around 20 artists from all over the continent including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda,” Lewis says of the exhibition, which runs from Monday, February 4 to Friday, March 15. “We are trying to showcase artists from different parts of Africa. Five of the exhibiting artists will travel to Australia for a 10- day program of Sanaa events, including the exhibition.”

Artists featured in the exhibition are award-winning Ugandan photographer PapaShotIt (Papa Shabani), Mwamba Chikwemba (a Zambian artist exploring female identity), Ghanaian installation artist Fatric Bewong, leading South African contemporary artist John Vusi Mfupi and emerging street artists from East Africa.

Papa Shot It Black, Twilight 2, limited edition photograph, 1 of 10, 30 x 42cm.
Twilight 2, Papa Shot It

A highlight of the Sanaa exhibition will be the mural by Kenyan street artist Thufu Bebeto, which will be painted directly onto the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery wall on Thursday, February 14 and Friday, February 15. This won’t be the last of the murals painted during the exhibition. Local artist Julia Townsend will collaborate with Bebeto and Chikwemba to present a mural at the Multicultural Communities Council of SA while Adelaide artist Dave Court and Sparrow (Uganda) will also collaborate on a mural at the Arts Theatre on Angas Street.

Sanaa: A Better World Through Creativity
Kerry Packer Civic Gallery at The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre
Level 3, Hawke Building, UniSA City West Campus
Monday, February 4 to Friday, March 15

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