Sunday, 28 November 2010

SKULL | For the love of Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst: For the Love of God 

This work is so bold and has a Hogarth flavour about it as it seems to put up a huge mirror to those within the Art World in general. This work is multi-layered like Sol LeWitt and I smile as I hear the artist being interviewed. 

An interviewer asked Damien: 

How do you want to be remembered? 

Damien answered; "Great in bed!" 


For the Love of Damien Hirst....

Why did the artist use diamonds? 
Why place a huge diamond from 
in the Centre 
of the World's 
most expensive 
Where is this work being shown 
and by whom?
Who can afford such a 
blinding skull?
Who exactly is buying 
this glorious 
work of Art?

Now valued at 50 million pounds 
Maybe it is to talk about those 
that cut 
the diamonds 
in India, China, 
and America...

Africa is shaped as an uncut 
diamond but the stones are 

Let the skull without eyes, see all. 
Let the skull without ears, hear clearly...
and the tongue removed saying nothing 
behind fresh white teeth. 

This is a puzzle 
for all those 
thinking, with clever 
to the Aztecs and 
the British Museum 
but only to keep 
the bloodhounds, 
clearly off the scent.
Laugh out loud at thoughts of Ali G's ring 
but never mention 

The Adman cometh..
the Art Director has 
excelled himself 
and raised the most 
important questions 
of our age. 
He has accidentally 
on purpose 
used his skull 
point his finger 
directly at 
Money Lenders 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Art of this World | Response to Bill and Max

Artist | Paa Joe
Fantasy Coffins
Teshey, Accra

*N.B. See previous post for the interview -

I have enormous admiration for Bill Karg, his attitude and adoration of artists from Africa is second to none. He has championed the ideas of the Continent and shared his extensive knowledge with Art Collectors, Artists, Critics and school children in NYC and beyond.

I tend to disagree with Bill, but then again, I disagree with everybody. I think the Art World is a cold fish. A total nonsense and a foolish Boss. Following fashion is a mugs game! Don't play to the Market, create it through being sincere and having a genuine passion. Artists are artists worldwide. Do you really think the Senegalese don't want to celebrate their football stars that play in the English Premiership? They are more part of Senegal in England than they ever were in Dakar. Bill, we are born on a tiny boat with broken oars and are all trying to make something out of our time, whilst we're in these huge oceans. Look for artists that have turned their backs on monetary rewards and those special few, that work for the love of producing the art. The integrity shines through...maybe not immediately but it will shine, especially if others around them like what they are doing. The work that you have done to date is staggering. It is fantastic and is far more than a job, it is a labour of love but many more people should be encouraged to do the same and bring different like or dislikes to the world's attention.

There is a scent and a sense of excitement in the air. It has changed somewhat as the pace has quickened to a gallop and now a canter. All over the Continent people are busy working away on their various art projects and the face of Africa is constantly changing and remodelling itself on something or other. It is the most exciting and exhilarating picture to see. More focus should be put on promoters such as AfricanColours in Kenya, Bisi Silva in Nigeria and Genevieve Phillips in Ghana and many others and the more interest in Contemporary Africa there is abroad, will inevitably encourage others to do similar in different countries on the Continent. Establishing a progressive Africa through art, as seen through the eyes of the world, is a noble pursuit. I smile when I read Bill's thoughts on wanting to send the work back to Africa as the journey has just begun..... 

Purple Rain by Andrew Ngoroge

Have a willowness and a willingness to change as the curio artists are still needing a platform or else before long, everybody will be painting rubiks-cubes and what you were initially excited by and loved, will be lost and virtually murdered. That I think is the danger. African artists throughout the Continent are deeply curious about change and curio artists are no exception. The point is to find an imaginative way to blend Modernity into Traditional Africa and at all times maintaining original creativity...African Style.

Artist | Houria Naiti
La bateau de la derive, 2010

Art Out of Africa | Max Weintraub interviews Bill Karg

Source |

An interview with Bill Karg, founder of the Contemporary African Art Gallery, New York City

Bill Karg founded the Contemporary African Art Gallery in New York City in 1987, where he has exhibited internationally recognized African artists for more than twenty years with the aim of changing perceptions about the continent’s contemporary art. At present, the gallery represents over thirty artists from ten African countries. Karg has lived in Africa for extended periods and has worked on a range of development projects in various capacities for the World Bank, USAID, the United Nations, and a number of African governments.

Currently, Karg's Contemporary African Art Gallery is exhibiting the work of the Senegalese mixed-media artist Viye Diba. Born in Dakar, Senegal in 1954, Diba studied art education at the National School of Fine Arts in Dakar and went on to receive a PhD in urban geography from the University of Nice, France. At present, Diba lives and works in Dakar, where he is a professor of art education at the National School of Fine Arts and president of the National Senegalese Association of Visual Artists. His work has been exhibited internationally for over two decades and has gained widespread acclaim. The current exhibition at the Contemporary African Art Gallery marks the artist's third one-man show in America.

Diba's artwork consists of vibrant, abstract canvases from whose richly textured surfaces emerge a variety of simple geometric patterns and evocative forms. Diba eschews imported canvases and oil paints in favor of local materials, making his canvases out of locally woven fabrics. Diba layers his surfaces with a range of materials, including strips of cloth of differing densities and discarded objects found in and around his hometown of Dakar, Senegal. While employing everyday objects and referencing such rich cultural traditions such as textiles and fabric weaving, Diba's process results in beautifully rendered abstractions that defy easy categorization. Indeed, Diba achieves the difficult task of harnessing these diverse formal elements into cohesive, complex surfaces that are also highly sculptural, exhibiting a three-dimensionality that at times tests the very boundaries of painting, and locates his works somewhere on the threshold between painting and sculpture.

I recently sat down with Bill Karg to discuss the work of Viye Diba, the larger mission of his Contemporary African Art Gallery, and have a broader conversation about contemporary African art on this, the fiftieth anniversary of Senegal's independence.

Max Weintraub: Where did your interest in African art originate and what were the initial aims behind the establishment of your gallery?

Bill Karg: I began showing this art because I loved it, and because I had five years living and working in Africa by then and had been around, so it’s not like I dropped in as a tourist. I also knew that most of the artists that I was interested in were well known and well shown in Europe, yet virtually unknown in the United States and I felt that that should change. Once I started, and because I’m drawn to things abstract anyway, I wanted to stay as far away from representational curio art as possible. I collected a particular aesthetic that would prompt people who came to my gallery to ask, “What makes it African? I like it but I don’t see anything African in the art.” I had to develop my own definition, which was simply if the artist is born in Africa and that I knew their art was inspired in some way by Africa—then that’s enough for me. This is the beauty of working with contemporary artists: I can have conversations with them. My approach has always been a careful interpretation of the art based in its cultural context and this responsibility to, as much as possible, correctly interpret it to the collecting audience. This is something I feel very strongly about now—perhaps more so than I did back when I started in 1987.

Artist | Viye Diba
Photo by Antoine Tempé

Currently you have on display the work of the contemporary Senegalese artist Viye Diba whose work consists of largely monochrome canvases and incorporates a broad range of found materials and objects. Can you talk a little about Diba's work and what attracted you to him as an artist?

I have always gravitated toward abstraction, but with Viye it was his use of reused materials and color that really attracted me. He is one of the first African artists that I know of to use reused materials. He has been doing this in his art since the late ‘80s, and while it has come into vogue since then, he was first to use such found materials. What’s more, these other artists haven’t used the materials for the very profound reasons that Viye uses reused materials, which is to make something of beauty out of something extraordinarily common, something that has been used to its fullest by the working people of Dakar.

Viye’s color is another reason I find his work so exceptional. In 1993, when Viye started working in this minimalist way, his colors were extraordinarily bright and rich and this drew me to him. I was attracted to the color and also the fact that with every work Viye violates what would otherwise be the frame or the edge of the canvas—either with an appendage very dramatically coming out from the front, as you see here in Red Escape II, sometimes on the edge or bottom of the work, and sometimes he actually breaks through the frame itself. Diba has been very creative in his physical handling of the media.

Escape II
Artist | Viye Diba

Has his work changed much since you first encountered it?

Yes. Let’s start with the premise that every work of art has within it some interpretation about time and space. In Viye’s work, his statements about space are the linear, vertical stitches of the Rabal cloth and the positioning of these remnants of human figures, which you can see pretty clearly in Red Escape II. Time in his work, however, is extraordinarily subtle and it is one of the things that he has mastered in an intuitive way that I have rarely seen. I was struck by how he transitioned from creating very brightly colored works in the early ‘90s to these very muted colors that you see now. The first time I really talked to Viye about time in his work he had been at it for almost ten years and I said to him “Viye, I don’t know if this is true or not but I’m just going to throw it out there and I want to test it on you. The sun in Dakar, and Senegal in general, is so strong that it fades everything. I think what you’ve done is create a body of work that in fact reflects time as faded by the sun.” And this temporal aspect is perhaps also reflected in the grainy textures that he creates which can be seen as the settling of dust, so that the ravages of time and the ravages of sun are subtly and intuitively reflected in his work over a ten-year period. One has to look across a ten-year body of work to see it. This, in my opinion, is his comment on time.

So any given work is part of a larger whole, and part of a process that is ultimately one body of work?

Exactly, and depending on where any work might fall in that chronology it might be very different from another of his works.

So what was Viye’s response to your proposition about time in his work?

It really resonated with him. Viye and I are very close and there have been a number of times when we’ve discussed his work. When I first met him he was painting representational paintings. It was very clever and beautifully done but it came close enough to curio art that I wasn’t interested. So we had had a meeting here in New York about it and after Viye left he went back to Senegal and put everything down for almost three months. He went to Dakar’s antiquities museum, IFAN, and he literally meditated for two or three months. As a result of this, his way of working evolved and became abstract.

It is fascinating that he turned to traditional African forms as a source of inspiration at this apparent moment of existential doubt, and yet came away making abstractions—that is, something that might be considered more universal in value, as opposed to a more vernacular approach.

Yes, and it is almost minimalist in its presentation. But cleverly, the remnants of the human form are still there in it. In Red Escape II, for example the remnants of the human figure are found in the horizontal band of repeated pant-like shapes. You will find that form in every single work that he does. The more three-dimensional aspects of his art—at times he has pouches that appear on the surface of his works—are reflective of his time of meditation in the antiquities museum, where he was surrounded by sculpture. The pouches are the remnants of the three dimensional aspects of that work. So that’s Viye—the verticality of the stitches, the subtle remnants of the human form, and the intuitive interpretation of time as it passes.

When we first met, you and I discussed the challenges in overcoming the ways in which African art has generally been marketed to and perceived by European and American collectors, which, especially in terms of African sculpture, has threatened to relegate it to the status of folk art or even curio. Can you talk a little bit about those perceptions and marketing aspects and the challenges you've faced in countering them?
Sure. Take Viye’s work: American collectors—and sometimes museums—love the roughness and the unfinished nature of found materials because it speaks to their preformed image of something that’s African. They also love the grainy texture and the faded colors of the work because that rings true with what one would expect from art coming out of Africa. In other words, it strikes a chord that is seemingly widely felt, given our success in selling his work. I feel like it’s my responsibility to provide insights into the works so that collectors can move beyond such preconceptions and gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of contemporary African art. If the collector leaves without such an appreciation for the reason, the purpose, the statement of Viye’s work, it would be almost tragic.

Suspension v'art
Artist | Viye Diba

Tragic in what sense?

Well, there is a real danger here that as the market for an African artist like Viye develops—be it here or in Europe—he might be encouraged to continue in a particular style and encouraged to create simply because he sells. Moreover, once the work is made and goes out to a collector or dealer in America or Europe, no one sees it locally, aside from maybe a few friends or family who saw the work in Viye’s house or studio. No one sees it locally and no one collects it locally; the work is taken out of its cultural context. So there is a major issue here—he could be expressing the deepest of social concerns in his work but it doesn’t matter because the object becomes utterly divorced from it.

But isn’t there always the problem of artistic intent and misinterpretation of that intent? I’m curious how and why to your mind it is so important to try to maintain a local, cultural connection for African artists? Why is it so important to you to try and preserve that connection to the local African context?

Because it is the artist’s contribution to his or her society. Historically that has been their place—whether they’re bringing beauty or social interpretation or political confrontation. And while they may be speaking to other parts of the world, for the first time in history we may have a significant number of our contemporary artists in Africa who have nothing to say to their own societies.

Because of the mechanisms of the market?

Right, exactly, but there are a few small remedial ways that we can combat this, and I am proposing these in a paper that I hope to be presenting in a few months at the triennial symposium of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA). We must redouble our efforts to work on the economic development of these countries so that its institutions and private collectors can afford to collect and keep more of this art within its countries of origin. In this sense, I’m really dedicating myself to working myself out of a job.
The other remedial measure that I have dedicated myself to is the careful interpretation of the work, by which I mean such things as committing to bring artists to the States for their art openings. For example, Viye was here for his first opening and it was extraordinarily important to the people that attended. I think that the artist’s interpretation—straight from the artist’s mouth, is important and ought to be made possible. If this is not possible, then the gallery is duty-bound to interpret the artist’s work as carefully as possible through constant conversation with the artist. Luckily, because many of the artists I deal with are contemporary living artists, this is possible, so long as one is diligent enough to do it. If Americans are more turned off by my explanation of the work than turned on because it doesn’t fit their expectations of what African art should be, then so be it.

What ought to be happening is that the art of someone like Viye ought to be in Dakar—being seen, being collected, being talked about, being reviewed, and being socially interpreted there in Senegal. That’s when I’ll be happy, and this is what it seems to me we should ultimately be working toward.

The African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, Senegal, designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby | Wikicommons

So what are your thoughts, then, on the place of European stylistic influences or affinities in African art, and is there a place for it? What, for example, did you make of President [Abdoulaye] Wade’s recent unveiling of the monument—dubbed the African Renaissance Monument? Its bold realist style and heroically idealized figures—supposedly used to convey a sense of African success and progress—does so, somewhat ironically, through the idiom of Soviet style sculpture. Articulating Senegalese independence and celebrating an African renaissance through the vocabulary of Soviet aesthetics seems remarkable to me. As a gallery director, do you see this as a kind of burden or an opportunity when the work of an African artist exhibits stylistic affinities—perceived or real—with European or American modernist traditions?

In terms of Wade’s sculpture I would guess Senghor—Senegal’s first president and strong proponent of negritude—would, I guess, be turning over in his grave if he saw this sculpture at 50 years of Senegalese independence. This type of stylistic affinity is problematic. However, it’s a commissioned work and who knows what constraints the artists worked within.

In general, however, one of the greatest satisfactions I get out of my work is discovering affinities. I have a piece of Inuit art that people often think looks very much like a [Zimbabwean] Shona sculpture, and [that] the statistical probability that these different local artists are aware of what the other is doing is almost zero is very thrilling to me, because it says to me that there is in fact a universal consciousness at work here.

I would argue that it is more important that the work is correctly interpreted and respected within its own culture, because almost all artists nowadays are aware of other things happening in the world, and are going to be influenced by it. It is problematic, however, when the influences only come from Europe and the West. In this case, it is my humble opinion that the art will be shaped by these external forces. However, if the art is correctly interpreted, respected, and celebrated within the artist’s own culture and country, then the art will reflect that more strongly.

This age of globalization and of a greater sharing of all things—culture being only one of them—only compounds and compels the reason for supporting these artists in their own culture. Otherwise what they produce will become so diluted in terms of its cultural context, and so seduced by what might bring greater financial success or notoriety, that it loses it significance. An artist might try to anticipate what might sell in China’s booming art market, for instance. That’s a dangerous path. Affinities are fine and exciting, but affinities and other cultural influences, minus the relevance and support of an artist’s own society, are dangerous.

This raises some very interesting questions, one of which concerns the exhibition of contemporary African art. I was struck a few years ago to find the work of another contemporary artist that you represent, the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, rather than in, say, the museum's Contemporary section. To me it seems that there might also be a danger in defining an African artist as such only by reaffirming some link to traditional methods or tribal forms and colors in their work, and a danger of such contemporary artists perhaps being burdened by such a tag. On the level of exhibition at major museums and in light of what you just said about the importance of art being rooted in a certain cultural understanding, is there value in situating El’s work in the African galleries versus in galleries shared by other artists from around the world, or might this lead to problematic and perhaps even artificial associations?

You really have to be careful to not stretch your interpretation of that setting to all others. The Met is by nature an extraordinarily rich, but also very conservative institution and the strength of the history of African art at the Met is in antiquities. Even the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) struggles with what to do with contemporary objects. It is very difficult for an institution to be nimble and contemporary and contemporaneous. And when that isn’t its overarching mission, as in the case of The Met, it’s almost impossible to be nimble. And so El’s art hanging in those galleries alongside African fabrics in the African section actually didn’t surprise me at all.

So is there something gained in terms of the promotion and acceptance of African contemporary art by playing up, if you will, traditional associations—tribal colors and what have you? I was thinking only of the negative aspects of doing so, but is there a positive flipside to it?
It is a very good question and it is almost impossible to unravel. I will say, however, that in most instances I have not been able to find much of a lineage from contemporary African art to traditional and historical African art. I do have one sculptor from Cote d’Ivoire [Monique Le Houlleur] who uses a lost-wax casting process. Her work is very contemporary, but the lost-wax process of creating bronze sculpture is 600 years old in Africa, so there is a real lineage there. But this is rare. In most cases, artists aren’t pushing an envelope that already exists. I think that they are doing their own thing and really starting over. I think most artists would fit into this “I’m doing my own thing” model, rather that pushing a pre-existing envelope.

Has the business of contemporary African art changed a lot since you started in 1987—in terms of its marketing to the public—and are there things that you find encouraging about the current position of contemporary African art in the international market now as opposed to when you first started?

The most public marketing of contemporary African art over the years has been through auction houses. There have been a couple of very large collectors, Mr. Pigozzi chief among them. Pigozzi is a billionaire who has his own interpretation of what African contemporary art is and should be. He shows neither artists that are formally trained, nor artists that left Africa. Now there is a kind of purity to that, which I respect. I have heard however, and this is only hearsay, that he may also take advantage of the artists because they are relatively naïve in terms of the art market. In a way he is sort of collecting African outsider art, but because he’s a billionaire he is able to approach the likes of Sotheby’s and help finance an enormous

Suspension Cord
Artist | Viye Diba

catalogue and an enormous sale of contemporary African art from his own collection. There was a lot of press and attention for this sale and the difficulty is that because the standard has yet to be set, it can be influenced by a few people.

To set a standard where there is no standard becomes an extraordinarily difficult task, and begins to define before its even defined by anyone else, what “contemporary African art” really means. That’s unfortunate, because it has everything to do with marketing and little to do with a philosophy or a real care for contemporary African art.

Hubert Ponter is a very wealthy, Zimbabwean-born collector living on the west coast of the United States, who collects Zimbabwean art and has his own interpretation of that art. He and I agree on many of the artists worthy of collection, but not on the way of marketing them. I’ll give you two examples: I used to get an invitation to an opening where he would get a shipping container—a container!—of art from Zimbabwe and have an opening straight out of the container. Try establishing a discriminating market using that approach!

Another example is from when I was just beginning and poking around and trying to get a feel for what other people were doing in the field. I walked into Gumps department store in San Francisco—a high-end department store like Bloomingdales—and I go into a department full of decorating accessories where I find these little, ephemeral pieces of Zimbabwean sculpture. I started turning them over and looking for a name on the bottom and asking people who worked there if they knew who had sculpted them. Nobody knew the answer, because it wasn’t important that a name be associated with this “decorative” piece of work. I think this does a disservice to the field. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so serious if there was a full-throated following and collection of these artists in Africa, so there could be a counterbalance, a kind of pushback against it that could debate this type of treatment of the work. That’s what troubles me.

So does this type of marketing mean that the collector who came into the gallery in 1987 wanting to see something that fit a certain preconception of what “African” art should look like hasn’t changed much since you started?

I don’t know that it really has changed that much, unfortunately. A couple of things have changed for the better though. One thing is that museums are buying more from me than before, so there is now a more educated audience collecting in the form of the museum curator. There was also a sea change that took place in academia where now it is nearly impossible to find someone who is getting a PhD in African art that is not studying the modern or contemporary period. When I started the gallery in 1987, being an Africanist meant that you were an expert in African antiquities—focusing on some region or some tribal group and the artifacts that they produced. By mid-1990s that had totally changed. It’s a very different field now, and as those people go into professions that look over my shoulder, so to speak, there is now a much more in-depth conversation going on about the work than before.

In closing, what are your thoughts on the contemporary African art market going forward?

There needs to be a middle class and private and public collectors collecting contemporary art in Africa, otherwise there is no local reception and interpretation of the art being produced and the work becomes detached from the culture from which it originates. This is changing slowly and it is important that it continue. My aim now is really to work myself out of a job by having the art stay in the very culture that produced it. While this may not happen in my lifetime, this is something that I’m slowly working toward.

November 23, 2010

Images of Viye Diba's work courtesy of the Contemporary African Art Gallery

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


This is such a brilliant idea founded by Lauren Jones, a family friend and a jolly good egg.

I adore the energy behind this project and think this is the perfect way to have your artwork seen and cared about rather than placing such monetary value on works of Art.

This project needs funding and this is a truly worthy cause and could even change the Art World completely. Art Barter has such integrity and foresight behind it, I am proud to donate and hope you do the same.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Kenya's Nubians | Then & Now

You are invited to join us for a glass of wine and to celebrate the opening

Greg Constantine's Exhibition | Kenya's Nubians: Then & Now
From 6:30pm 
Thursday the 18th November.
Exhibition Dates: 17 - 26 November 2010

Kenya’s Nubians: Then & Now is the first exhibition in London for photographer Greg Constantine (USA, b. 1970).  The Nubian community has lived in Kenya for over 100 years.  Incorporated into the British Army in the late 1880s and brought to Kenya from Sudan by the British at the turn of the century, Nubians served for the British in the King’s African Rifles during WWI and WWII and were vital to the development of Kenya and East Africa.  They held British colonial passports and birth certificates that stated their nationality as British.  Unable to return to their homeland, the British designated over 4000 acres of land for the Nubians and their families to settle on.  The Nubians named the land, Kibra or ‘land of forest’.  After Kenyan Independence, the Nubian community has historically been denied recognition and has been one of Kenya’s most invisible and under-represented communities.  Over the past 40 years, hundreds of thousands of rural migrants have flooded into Nairobi in search of work and Kibra has been the land where they’ve been encouraged to settle.  All of the Nubian’s claims to the land provided to them by the British have been denied.  Eventually the Nubian settlement of Kibra would turn into Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa.

Kenya’s Nubians: Then & Now combines rare, historical photographs of the Nubian community in Kenya dating back to 1912 with Constantine’s recent work on the community’s struggle for recognition.  The exhibition aims to promote the dynamic and rich history of a community few in Kenya and the United Kingdom are aware of, and it intends to help tell the story of a community who, as one Nubian elder described is, “being squeezed into extinction.”

1, Honduras Street,
Tel: +44 (0)207 253 2770

Opening Times:
Monday - Friday: 10am - 6pm
Saturday: 11am - 4pm

Friday, 12 November 2010

Atta Kwami | The Afro-abstract

Atta Kwami is exhibiting in New York this week at the Howard Scott Gallery. New York is in for a real treat.

Kwahu, 2010

Here is an African Artist who really knows how to play the game. His work is screaming out to be seen on an International level. Atta is one of Africa's Greatest treasures, he has educated himself to such a high level and has a real grasp and deep understanding of what it is to be an artist.

Words from the Artist:

"The qualities I seek on my work are: clarity, simplicity, intensity, subtlety, architectonic structure, musicality (rhythm and tone), wholeness and spontaneity. So many strands inevitably manifest themselves in painting: jazz, the timbre of Ghanaian music (Koo Nimo), improvisation, arrangements of merchandise and so forth. I also see corresponding aesthetic commonalities with wall paintings and music from northern Ghana, the limited range of earth colors and the pentatonic scale of the xylophone. Poetry is able to sustain the life of language through new forms of usage. In painting it is also re-interpretation, improvisation and variation that affect innovation and development."

Grace Kwame Sculpture, 1993

I would rather a Ghanaian writer wrote this article instead of me. Somebody like John Owoo or George O. Hughes, somebody from Ghana that can sense what is happening in the world today. Finally, we have an artist that doesn't need to re-fashion African junk and recycle his backyard. No bottle tops, whiskey caps or silver or gold milk bottle-tops were used in the making and shaping of this artist. Atta is calling on art Collectors worldwide to take his art seriously. To take the African artist seriously and speaks so wonderfully clearly about the vision of building a brand new world. This is the world made of lines, boxes and seen through abstract eyes of one of the worlds leading artists; the deconstruction and reconstruction of all things Kumasi, all things from West Africa. Ghana has the brightest lights of all as the sun shines so brightly over there. Ghana is positioned on the meridian line and shares a wonderful sense of humour with the British, maybe the connection is time, we both wake up together.

Adidoe, 2010

Others speak so candidly about the Awakening Conscience of a Continent, this Exhibition in New York City is going to be an explosion of newness. It is going to knock their socks off and blow them out of their seats. This is the MOST EXCITING Exhibition that New York City has ever held, if only they could see it? If only they could see the brilliance that lies in-between the lines of paint. If only? If only? If only! We call upon writers to write, tell us what we need to know; what does Adidoe, Kwahu and Joe really mean to you in Ghana? Writers from Ghana, should be writing in the New York Times, Arts Section about the shift in our human thinking. The explanations of these words and these works must be coming out of an African's mouth...Please start to write about this amazing Artist and lead us into a deeper understanding of the black man, the African. 

Joe, 2010

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Purple Rain by Andrew Njoroge

Purple Rain by Andrew Njoroge 

Andrew had this idea a number of years ago but I'm delight to see that he has finally put his camera into action and made a beautiful album of photographs of the Jacaranda trees in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nairobi is a city that lies near the equator and is the hub of East Africa. It has no real season to speak of but this marvellous, exciting, dangerous city that some refer to as Nairobbery almost changes overnight.

In mid-October the place is awash and comes into bloom, with vivid purple Jacaranda leaves. A stunning sight for all to see, they seem to grow almost everywhere. 


      "The Jacaranda Season", as Andrew likes to call it. 

This is a wonderful display of sensitivity. 

A photographer truly at his best and looking at his city with renewed vision. 

A positive expression from a world far too often seen as full of anger, hatred and ugliness. What a refreshing sight for sore eyes.

With the greatest respect, I would like to do these images justice and write between each one; expressing the joy that we see in an artist talking for all and giving superb guidance for others to follow. 

Art should be simple, created with a gentle kindness for the viewer and most importantly expressing an Africa that is truly beautiful. Thank you Andrew for creating these stunning photographs and congratulation for giving birth to a new Kenyan Season - the Jacaranda Season.

Photographs by 
© Andrew Njoroge | Purple Rain 2010 

*N.B. Please note that these images belong to Andrew Njoroge. If you are interested and would like to use any images here please have the decency to contact Andrew at AfricanColours |

Author: Joe Pollitt 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Cheri Samba | Cartoonist

My problem today is Pigozzi. Jean Pigozzi, Johnny to his friends. Now the principle of the Pigozzi Collection sourced by Andre Magnin was that they would choose artists that were untrained, unaffected by the ugly Western World. Well, Cheri Samba is far from unaffected he is obviously copying our friend Mister Escher. So the Collection falls apart and the principles behind the Collection seem to have more holes in than Swiss Cheese. The truth be told, Jean Pigozzi is the right man for Africa, it's just he hasn't thought it through with his choice of artists. Africa needs to be seen as progressive it needs a Collector that is in it for the long-term. It needs so desperately the Jean Pigozzis of this world, not for their money but for their influence around the globe. Africa has such little support from the truly powerful amongst us...with the obvious exception of me, of course.

The idea to ask an artist to stay primitive is I am afraid boys and girls, asking far too much. Nobody wants to look a fool now! I think the premise of the Collection was perhaps a little weathered and demanded of the African to stay down but Africa and the Africans are waking up and they have their own agenda...

We can see at a glance that Africans are starting to put themselves in the picture. I spoke yesterday with Eria Sane Nsubuga, my terrible politically incorrect and stubborn friend..We spoke of Henri Rosseau and thoughts turned to Venus...

M.C. Escher | Designer Artist