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Ten Contemporary African Artists You Need to See

Are you looking to add an international flair to your art collection? If so, it’s time to learn more about contemporary African artists. The continent is well known for its vibrant culture and rich history, but many are unaware of the incredible art being produced by Africa’s creative minds.

From sculptors to painters, photographers and beyond, there is no shortage of African talent waiting to be discovered. So today we’re celebrating ten of the most outstanding contemporary African artists working today. Whether you are an aspiring collector or simply an enthusiast – this list is your guide to the contemporary African art landscape. Enjoy!

Wosene Kosrof: Ethiopian-American Painter

If you’re interested in contemporary African art, then you need to check out the work of Wosene Kosrof. Born in Ethiopia and based in Maryland, USA, Wosene is a world-renowned painter and sculptor renowned for his vibrant use of color and fascinatingly complex works. His large-scale mixed media paintings often depict religious iconography combined with elements from his African heritage.

Wosene is often cited as a leader in the contemporary African art scene because of his unique blend of influences. His works have been exhibited at many of the most prestigious galleries around the world, including The Studio Museum in Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, and Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African Art. If you want to stay up to date on his latest works or see more of his past projects, head over to his website or follow him on Instagram!

El Anatsui: Ghanaian Sculptor

Next on our list of African artists you need to know is El Anatsui, a Ghanaian sculptor whose work you can see all over the world. His sculptures are made from thousands of small pieces of metal found in everyday objects such as bottle caps and coins. He then knits them together to create metal tapestries that mimic patterns from traditional African fabric. The results are mesmerizing and often incredibly large-scale works that reflect themes of colonialism and post-colonialism.

Anatsui’s works have been exhibited around the world, including at Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London and the Venice Biennale. He has also been awarded several prestigious awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and the Prince Claus Award in 2008. If you’re looking for incredible art of unparalleled quality, El Anatsui should be at the top of your list!

Jepchumba: Kenyan Digital Artist

Number three on our list is Kenyan digital artist Jepchumba. You’re sure to be blown away by her stunning, evocative works of art.

A leader in the African arts and technology space, she’s best-known for her multimedia art installations, which come alive with light and sound. By combining both the traditional and digital art forms, her pieces take you on an emotional journey that’ll leave you speechless.

She’s most recently made waves with ‘The Voice Of She’, a collection of videos dedicated to women around the world. It’s a beautiful project that aims to shine a light on modern African women through illustration and music.

Jepchumba is also an advocate for entrepreneurship in Africa and beyond. Through her many projects, she encourages young people to pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they may face — it’s truly inspirational stuff!

Senam Okudzeto: Ghanaian-American Textile Artist

Senam Okudzeto is a Ghanaian-American textile artist based out of Brooklyn, New York. She combines traditional West African techniques with her own unique style of pieces that explore African identity and the search for belonging. Her pieces often include old textiles, found objects, and handwoven elements to create intricate and beautiful artworks.

Okudzeto’s work often expresses her connection to her ancestral homeland. She uses manual techniques such as batik, weaving, knitting, and dyeing to create sensory experiences that evoke memories of cultures she has visited in Africa. She also includes elements from Western culture in her pieces as a reminder of how diverse our global culture is.

Her works have been featured in multiple exhibitions both in the US and internationally, as well as in magazines such as Vogue Magazine. In 2020 Okudzeto was also awarded the ‘Designer of the Year’ award by Ooga Booga Magazine for her efforts in highlighting cultural identities through textile design.

If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on African art, look no further than Senam Okudzeto’s breathtaking works!

Kudzanai Chiurai: Zimbabwean Photographer

Kudzanai Chiurai is a Zimbabwean photographer whose works are inspired by the movement for African liberation. His images capture the beauty and power of Africa, and his subject of choice often focuses on politics and social justice.

Chiurai’s work has been featured in notable galleries around the world, including exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum and the Johannesburg Biennale. He also won the 2009 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in South Africa.

In addition to his photography, Chiurai is also an acclaimed filmmaker, with his documentary series “Ghetto Comes to Washington” screened at multiple film festivals worldwide. His works often explore themes such as corruption, identity politics and freedom of speech in African countries.

Not only is Chiurai a talented photographer who captures powerful visuals of Africa, but he is also an advocate for political change and civil rights on the continent. His art speaks to both its beauty and its challenges, giving us a unique perspective into life in Africa today.

William Kentridge: South African Video Artist

Now you might be asking yourself, what is a video artist? Well, William Kentridge is one of South Africa’s most well-known video artists. He has become a master at weaving together drawing, animation, film and music to create some of the most captivating pieces that you can find from the continent.

He has done some incredible work over the years, including installations for public spaces like his famous piece for Paris’ Jardin d’Acclimatation and permanent works such as his monumental tapestry for Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.

Kentridge also made headlines for his opera production of The Magic Flute, commissioned by the English National Opera in 2009. Beyond that, he also has several books under his belt: Drawings for Projection (1999), Thick Time (2015) and Shadow Procession (2019).

If you’re looking to delve into the world of African artists that are pushing boundaries with their art and using traditional techniques to express their culture, then William Kentridge is definitely a name to keep on your radar!

Zanele Muholi: South African Photographer

If you’re looking for a contemporary African artist to follow, look no further than South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Muholi’s work often focuses on the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community in South Africa, capturing images that are both powerful and thought-provoking.

Muholi draws inspiration from her own experiences growing up as a black lesbian woman, exploring themes of gender, identity and sexuality through her work. A self-described “visual activist,” Muholi has held over 40 solo exhibitions across the world and was the recipient of an illustrious Deutsche Borse Photography Prize.

In 2018, she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, along with fellow artists like Beyonce and Lady Gaga. A self-described “visual activist,” Muholi has held over 40 solo exhibitions across the world and was the recipient of an illustrious Deutsche Borse Photography Prize. Her work has been featured in major museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and Tate Modern.

If you’re looking for a contemporary African artist to follow be sure to keep an eye out for Zanele Muholi’s latest works — they’re sure to be nothing short of stunning!

Ayana v. Jackson: American, South African Photographer

Ayana v. Jackson might not be from your neighborhood, but you should make her art a must-see. Born in San Francisco, but raised in South Africa, Jackson is a photographer whose stunning images capture the sometimes unexpected beauty of African life.

Through her work she strives to create the kind of visual images that challenge stereotypes and bias. For example, in her series “Haarlem & I” Jackson features up-close and detailed portraits of young black South Africans who express their style and assertion through fashion, symbolic adornment, and self-expression.

Jackson is also an incredibly accomplished artist: she’s exhibited at the New York Photo Festival as well as at the Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal; won several awards; and has been featured in publications like Vogue Italia, Marie Claire Magazine South Africa, and Glamor Magazine UK.

Jackson’s vision for social justice through photography has made her a powerful force for capturing the power of African identity on film—something everyone should experience!

EJ Hill: American, Nigerian Performance Artist

Everyone, meet EJ Hill. This American, Nigerian performance artist knows how to engage an audience with his thought-provoking pieces.

This multi-disciplinary artist uses various mediums and materials to create elaborate installations; many of which comment on socio-economic issues and race relations. One of the main themes in his artwork is power—specifically the power dynamics between people of different social identities.

Also incorporated into Hill’s art are aspects of history, both personal and cultural. He often combines vintage items with modern materials to alter the context and meaning related to a particular piece.

A few highlights from Hill’s career include performances at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Yale University, The Hammer Museum’s Biennial Block Party 2020, The Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco, and more. He has also been featured in publications such as Artforum Magazine and The LA Times Sunday Calendar.

George Osodi: Nigerian Documentary Photographer

You’ll definitely want to follow the work of George Osodi, a Nigerian documentary photographer. Osodi’s focus is on social issues and capturing the beauty of the people and the environment in his homeland. Osodi’s photographs have been featured in numerous galleries, exhibitions and publications around the world.

What makes Osodi’s work stand out is his balanced approach to documenting life in Nigeria—he captures both the good and bad aspects of life there. He often turns his lens on topics such as environmental degradation, poverty, oil pollution, and politics. His photos also tell stories about faith—he often captures religious ceremonies that speak to strength, endurance, courage and hope.

In particular, Osodi’s project titled “The Oil Rich Niger Delta” was a monumental achievement—it documented how multinational oil corporations are destroying some of Nigeria’s most beautiful landscapes. The project was showcased in several galleries throughout Europe and earned him international recognition for his powerful imagery.

No matter what project he’s working on, one thing is certain: George Osodi will continue to create impactful photographs that tell powerful stories about his country and its people.

From sculpture to painting, photography, and everything in between, African contemporary art is just as vibrant and diverse as its traditional counterparts. These ten artists represent just a small portion of the talent out of Africa. With each of their works, they display the beauty, resilience, and power of the African culture.

So, if you’re looking for a way to celebrate the African culture, why not start with these ten artists? Whatever you decide, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you and connects to your own sense of culture. After all, art is a universal language that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people from all over the world.