3 Contemporary African Diaspora Artists (and 1 Gallery Owner) to Watch
“Our mission is to break any conception you have about what is contemporary African art,” says Mariane Ibrahim.
The founder of eponymous galleries in Chicago and Paris, Ibrahim is a trail blazer in the contemporary art world. In a lecture hosted by the Centre for Black Diaspora at Depaul University, she shared the work of three contemporary African artists.
Ibrahim speaks with infectious passion for art — both in advocating for African Diasporic art and in insisting in not confining artists to racialized pre-conceptions. She opened her first art gallery in Seattle, eventually moving the gallery to Chicago in 2019 and opening a branch in Paris in 2021.
Much like Ibrahim herself, the pieces she shared were stunning, evocative and at once familiar.
A figurative painter, Boafo is known for his bold colours and his signature portraiture style. He’s an in-demand collaborator, with projects as varied as the elite fashion house, Dior Men and the Blue Origin space program. He’s both inspiring and creating practical opportunities for 100s of African artists, including creating an artist residence in Accra for artists who need space, support and critique.
Born in Germany, of a German mother and a Ghanaian father, Opoku has a background in fashion. Like Boafa, Opoku is based in Accra and has amassed an international clientele drawn to the complexity of form and themes in her textiles. Her latest pieces inspired by her fight with breast cancer, grapple with the notions of legacy and longevity.
A realistic painter, Uka is a Nigerian living in Cologne. His paintings are remarkable in their scale, the richness and layers of detail and their themes of black nostalgia. Uka paints scenes excavated from his childhood memories, elevating casual moments.
To learn more about these and other diaspora artists, follow the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery @MarianeIbrahimG or visit marianeibrahim.com.
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