In a new series on CNN International, Africa Avant-Garde explores contemporary African art and culture while meeting a range of influential living artists to celebrate the best of modern African art.
This month, the programme meets Nigerian business woman Tokini Peterside, founder and director of ART X Lagos, the first international art fair in West Africa.
Peterside explains the historical importance of African art and how its production has often been linked to the culture, heritage and identity of Africans. On her hopes for African art, Peterside hopes that the rise of African art is not just a “niche” but rather the start of opportunities for contemporary art in Africa.
Art, she tells Africa Avant-Garde producers, is intrinsically connected with African culture, heritage and identity.
“That history led to phenomenal production into the 14th, 15th century, that was later uncovered by Europeans. And contemporary artists today are drawing on that legacy, they’re drawing on that very profound and very real connection with artistic production,” she adds.
On her hopes for the future of African art she says these are interesting times for art from Africa, but they are also very critical.
“It’s a very critical time, I would say, because curators [and] artists of African origin have been writing about art from Africa, they’ve been organising exhibitions for decades, in Europe as well as on the continent. But in recent years there has been a lot more interest, both, locally, on the continent, and also internationally……My hope is that decades from now, we won’t still be talking about the rise of African art as this “niche” concern, but we will definitely look back on this era as one that contributed to the increase in appreciation, and the increase in the opportunities in contemporary art from Africa.”
About the artists and those like herself who work in the industry, Peterside says they “are very passionate about the art that comes from where we’re from. We’re very passionate about the fact that the African narrative can be reshaped through contemporary art. And I think it’s that desire to connect contemporary art with a local audience, but also an international audience, that drives us.”