October 14, 2019

African artists showcase diversity in London

African artists showcase diversity in London

Dancers perform during the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) ceremony in Lagos on November 6, 2016. The All Africa Music Awards is designed to recognise and reward artists who have given African music the most creative competitive edge in the global market within the year under review. AFP

Stories by Prisca Sam-Duru

Featuring at the annual London Art Week which attracts thousands of visitors enjoying the best of art at the Frieze Art Fair, the 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the design fair PAD, the Bonhams Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, and over a hundred art events happening across the city, is an exhibition titled; “No Room For Fear”.

Inspired by the prophetic words of late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, the art exhibition “No Room For Fear”, co-curated by one of Nigeria’s foremost galleries dedicated to showcasing cutting edge art in non-traditional exhibition spaces, SMO Contemporary Art, and the Black British Female Artists Collective (BBFA), is being hosted and supported by leading international law firm, Hogan Lovells in London, from October 1st till 30th, 2019.



October 2019 is definitely, a critical month for Britons as they face a watershed moment with BREXIT. And at the same time, Black History Month is a time to celebrate cultural diversity and recognise the important contribution of Africans and Caribbean descent in the UK.

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In line with showcasing the rich cultural diversity of the continent of Africa alongside that of the Caribbean descent in the UK, the exhibition showcases the works of 12 artists namely; Adelaide Damoah, Ayesha Feisal, Carleen de Sozer, Chibuike Uzoma, Enam Gbewonyo and Gabriel Choto.

Others are Justina Kehinde, Kenny Adewuyi, Kelani Abass, Olumide Onadipe, Sanaa Gateja and Tyna Adebowale, with intertwined cultural roots spreading across Britain and Europe to Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Jamaica.

This is a perfect timing as the exhibition is holding at a crucial period when racial tension is heightening by the day, across the globe. The artists are therefore, not just celebrating the power of their rich diversity, but at the same, fighting all forms of discrimination, and tackling socio-political issues, through their paintings, drawings, sculptures, tapestry, mixed media works, spoken word and performances.

The exhibition co-curator and Founder of BBFA who doubles as one of the exhibiting artists, Enam Gbenwonyo stated that “No Room for Fear” creates space for this commonality to be experienced in one space, to share one breath and to form one powerful statement.”

“Whether we look to the United States where the Black Lives Matter movement is coming at a time when racial tension has peaked yet again, or we consider South Africa, where black on black hate crimes have increased, our artists’ work is a powerful positive force calling for a more globally inclusive world,” said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, exhibition co-curator and Founder of SMO & Artistic Director of Contemporary Art.

“Celebrating African art and culture is a crucial part of our commitment to respect Africa, one of our four key pillars.”, Andrew Skipper, Partner and Head of Africa Practice at Hogan Lovells and Advisory Board Member of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, began saying.

Explaining how his organization has helped in furthering the course of African art as well as promoting the artists, Skipper disclosed that “We regularly host African art exhibition in our London and Johannesburg offices, to provide a platform for talented artists from the continent to showcase their work and give them much deserved exposure to international audiences.”