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Powerful African Art Fairs From Around the World

Picture of Andrew Thompson
Updated: 22 March 2018
African art has exploded across the globe. Art fairs, both in Africa and abroad, have sprung up to showcase works from across the continent, and they’re helping to put the spotlight on some of both established and emerging artists.

Cape Town Art Fair

Cape Town Art Fair has become a celebrated showcase of the continent’s best established and emerging creatives. Though relatively young, the fair has grown to include impressively diverse works spanning the continent. Media is largely traditional, in the form of sculptures, drawings and paintings, and many galleries at the fair sell works directly to visitors. Coinciding with Art Week Cape Town, the event is now an entrenched and important addition to the calendar.

Amar Gallery Renee Cox. Yo Mama's Pieta_preview
Yo Mama’s Pieta | © Renée Cox

AKAA

As a heavyweight destination in the art world, Paris’s Also Known As Africa (AKAA) art and design fair has further helped to elevate African art on an international scale. The exhibition showcases stunning art from across the continent, and the more hands-on AKAA Underground adds a practical element. In 2017, South African artist Lady Skollie was given free reign to design the walls of this space, which also became the home of some of the most innovative and creative concepts of the festival.

Lagos Photo Festival

Lagos Photo Festival launched in 2010 as the first and only arts festival focussing primarily on photography in Nigeria. The festival runs for a full month and includes a variety of workshops, exhibitions, presentations and discussions. Throughout the course of the festival, organisers transform public spaces to engage the public on issues pertaining to Africa. Uniting local and international photographers and artists, this is a community-driven festival with the potential to have a lasting impact on talented African photographers.

Johannesburg Art Fair

The Johannesburg Art Fair was the first intentional art fair in Africa, and it’s grown to provide important support to contemporary artists on the continent. Each year, the fair provides a space for the continent’s leading artists, galleries, collectors and fans to unite. And with regular talks and lectures from artists and industry experts, they play a critical role in educating, informing and assisting people from across the art world.

1:54

This annual art fair in London has been solely dedicated to African art since 2013. At its launch, it was the only fair in the primary art market dedicated to contemporary African art, and in many ways it has forged a path for young and established artists on the international scene. Though the event had a fairly humble beginning, 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair has since grown to welcome thousands of visitors in three cities around the world: London, New York and Marrakech.

Strained by Patrick Bongoy
Strained by Patrick Bongoy | Courtesy of Nando's

Turbine Art Fair

This Johannesburg-based art fair runs over a weekend in the heart of the city, and it’s one of the more accessible art fairs in South Africa. Unlike many other established African art fairs, Turbine Art Fair places a strong emphasis on new works and those from emerging South African artists. The strong educational and supporting role that it adopts makes it an important addition to the national calendar.