Nowadays, people can invest in a whole host of weird and wonderful things, although generally, there are some tried and tested things you may wish to begin with. In terms of a smart, and near fool-proof investment, generally, people think of Gold, and Property as two examples. Wine is another example, as is art. By investing in art, not only you get to benefit from enjoying the work itself, but you can also relax, safe in the knowledge that your purchase will actually increase in value, rather than decreasing like virtually all other purchases, besides the odd exceptions here and there. African art, particularly African contemporary art, is especially popular as of late, and if you’re considering investing in art, it is strongly recommended that you know and understand the artists you want to invest in. Contemporary African artists are few and far between these days, but if you find the right one, boy, a few years down the line will you be reaping the rewards. To help you out, here’s a look at several popular contemporary African artists that you should know about before you consider investing in African art.
Courtesy of Delwyn Verasamy/mg.co.za
African Artist: Tracy Rose
Originating from South Africa, Tracy Rose was born in Durban and currently resides in sunny Johannesburg. Tracy Rose is not only an established African artist, but she is also a cultural icon and a decidedly outspoken feminist. She is perhaps best known for her photography and video installations, as well as her bold and sometimes provocative work. A lot of the issues that she addresses in her work are very sensitive subjects, some of which may even be seen as taboo. Amongst the topics she covers are politics, racism, gender, race, sexuality, and more besides. Rose herself is multi-cultural, and, growing up as a mixed-race woman in South Africa, was certainly not easy for her. She has held exhibitions across Africa, and across the globe, and is currently very high in demand.
Courtesy of Kudzanai Chiurai/interviewmagazine.com
African Artist: Kudzanai Chiurai
Hailing from Zimbabwe, or rather, having been exiled from Zimbabwe after he very bravely created an inflammatory portrait featuring the infamous Robert Mugabe, who was president at the time, Kudzanai Chiurai is most certainly an African artist you should be aware of. He was the very first black recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria and is now an important and very influential figure in the African art world and community. Kudzanai’s work is best described as using multimedia compositions that are dramatic in appearance, to deliberately catch the viewer’s eye and address the most pressing of issues in South Africa. Xenophobia, violence, corruption, as well as displacement, are just some of the themes that his work addresses. Not only does this African artist work with paint, photography, printing, and editing, but more recently, his work also features films.
Courtesy of Omar Ba/halesgallery.com
African Artist: Omar Ba
Hailing from Senegal, Omar Ba now has a gallery based in Switzerland, where much of his work is displayed. This African artist moved to Switzerland from Dakar, Senegal, in order to attend art school and hone his crafts and talents. His paintings are unusual, in the sense that the majority of them are actually painted on cardboard. He also uses a minimalistic approach, featuring dots and powdery paints, which are very similar to those used in tribal body painting, which is, of course, deliberate on Ba’s part. This African artist is believed to paint images depicting what he considers to be the West’s perceptions of Africa, which are not always guaranteed to be a reflection of true life. The colour black, both literal and figural, features heavily in many of Ba’s pieces.
Courtesy of OKNOstudio/fondazioneprada.org
African Artist: Nastio Mosquito
If multimedia and performance art is your interest, then Nastio Mosquito is the African artist you should have on your radar. Nastio’s work is often expressed via video, spoken word, and song, and to say that his work has been turning heads as of late, would be a vast understatement. His work pushes boundaries like never before and is considered highly controversial, making political and social statements. Originating from Angola, the works of this African artist have been featured all over the globe, including in many parts of the USA, as well as Europe as well.
Courtesy of Julie Mehretu/moma.org
African Artist: Julie Mehretu
Julie Mehretu is an Ethiopian artist renowned for her larger than life paintings, which have a very strong architectural influence. The art of this African artist represents urban growth, it is bold, it is brash, and it really makes a statement. Many settings of her images will feature urban settings and surroundings, including bus cities and densely populated locations. Her paintings are achieved via the application of a very thin layer of acrylic paint onto a large canvas, before being finished off pencil marks, ink stains, and a series of complex superimposed patterns. This African artist has recently been quoted as describing her paintings as ‘story maps of no location’. Her work is therefore considered abstract as opposed to realistic, but one that is for sure, it most certainly catches the eye.
Courtesy of Cheri Samba/africanah.org
African Artist: Cheri Samba
Cheri Samba is a leading contemporary African artist, whose paintings are believed to reflect what is believed to be his perception of day to day life in the Demographic Republic of Congo. In the early stages of his career, Samba began his professional life as a comic strip artist, as well as a billboard painter, before eventually moving on to paintings that used sacking fabric as his canvas. His work is incredibly thought-provoking, and although it often deals with very serious issues plaguing day to day life in the Demographic Republic of Congo, it also sometimes features slightly humorous undertones. His work features word bubbles, which are a throwback to his days as a comic artist, allowing him to provide a form of commentary for his work. This is known as the ‘Samba Signature.’ The work of this African artist is open to interpretation in his own words, which, in his own words, is one of the main reasons why he added the text in the first place.