Christie’s Dubai teamed up with the 1957 Ghana Gallery for an exhibition of African artists titled [West] African Renaissance.
The exhibition brings together for a month artists from the Accra gallery at Christie’s at DIFC, from Godfried Donkor, a confirmed Ghanaian artist, to the young Gideon Appah, a painter of enigmatic scenes.
Gallery 1957 is an ambitious space that opened its doors just five years ago in Accra, the capital of Ghana. This is not his first partnership with the United Arab Emirates; in 2018, the gallery collaborated with Lawrie Shabibi on avenue Alserkal for an exhibition by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, who reuses the ubiquitous jerrycan in Ghana to make sculptures and installations. In this new exhibition, he shows charcoal drawings that reflect the Western colonial use of African masks.
In 2020, the 1957 Gallery opened an outpost in South Kensington, London, and this year it launched an award to support Ghanaian women artists. Named after a Ghanaian queen, Yaa Asantewaa Art Prize offers its recipient $ 6,500, a residency and an exhibition at the gallery.
The space is keen to respond to the lack of international visibility that has been a regular problem for African art galleries.
“Working with Christie’s, a strong promoter of contemporary African art internationally, is very appropriate,” says Marwan Zakhem, founder of Gallery 1957. “Our goal has always been to support the careers of western artists. -africans and ensure that they continue to reach new audiences on the global stage. In partnership with Christie’s Dubai, the continent’s ever-flourishing creativity will continue to be seen by an international audience in a part of the world where collectors have long championed our work.
Christie’s recently showed African art. Last year they supported 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair which could not proceed as usual due to the Covid pandemic. Instead, the auction house hosted exhibitions organized by the fair’s galleries in their New York and Paris spaces.
Christie’s declined to say how the profits from the new Dubai exhibition would be distributed. However, this type of collaboration is a relatively new model that shows how auction houses, particularly emboldened by success during the pandemic, are moving into new areas.
Artists at the 1957 gallery present a sample of works currently produced in Ghana at an exceptionally successful time in the country’s contemporary art history. Many artists are already internationally known, such as Donkor or Kwesi Botchway, and portraiture – the deliberate reconsideration of a classical European idiom – is a key strategy, from surreal paintings by Donor, Appah and Joshua Oheneba-Takyi, to more classical woks. Isshaq Ismail, Annan Affotey and Lord Ohene.
The gallery also features works by Nigerian artists, such as painters Oliver Okolo, Juwon Aderemi, and Ojingiri Peter.
[West] The African Renaissance is on view at Christie’s Dubai until December 14. More information is available at christies.com
Update: November 26, 2021, 5:17 am