Special Projects at 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

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Athi-Patra Ruga - Night of the Long Knives I - African Art

Image courtesy Athi-Patra Ruga and WHATIFTHEWORLD, Night of the Long Knives I, 2013


Returning to London for its 6th edition, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be held this year at Somerset House. The 42 galleries from across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North America bring together a diverse set of perspectives from around the world with over 130 participating emerging and established artists, with 10 solo shows from selected galleries

We are so proud of how far we have come since our first London fair in 2013. Following the launch of our inaugural Marrakech fair in February and our fourth New York edition in May, we have gone on to develop new audiences for contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora across three fairs and three different continents. The growth and popularity of the fair is a real testament to the shift away from Euro-centric art-historical narratives.” states Founding Director of 1-54, Touria El Glaoui.


African Art Fair : Spotlight on Ibrahim El-Salahi and Athi Patra Ruga

This year the fair celebrates one of the most significant figures in African and Arab Modernism, Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi, with his piece Meditation Tree that will be exhibited in the Somerset House courtyard as an extension of one of his first public sculptures. Represented by Vigo Gallery, El-Salahi’s artistic practice has been influenced by the Haraz tree which grows along the banks of the Nile and is indigenous to Sudan. This specific tree drops its leaves during the rainy season and flourishes throughout the dry season. In its idiosyncrasies, is said to be very near the Sudanese character, underscoring his ongoing investigation into the tree / body metaphor.


El Salahi - Meditation Tree- african art

Ibrahim El-Salahi
, Meditation Tree, 2018
Polished aluminum 68 x 54 x 46 cm


Internationally renowned South African artist Athi Patra Ruga will also be exhibiting a free exhibition in collaboration with Somerset House as part of the Special Projects program, Of Gods, Rainbows and Omissions (4 October 2018 – 7 January 2019). Marking his first major solo UK exhibition, he brings together three seminal bodies of work – The Future White Women of Azania (2012-15), Queens in Exile (2015-17), and The Beatification of Feral Benga (2017- present). Ruga reveals a mythical world which challenges ones perception of cultural identity and parodies the construction of the South African nation-state in the post-apartheid era. Through his work, he explores a possible humanist vision for the future, immersing visitors in his vibrant world filled with powerful and striking characters.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair – Hours

Somerset House, London, 4 – 7 October 2018
Thursday 4 October 11:00 – 19:00
Friday 5 October 11:00 – 19:00
Saturday 6 October 11:00 – 19:00
Sunday 7 October 11:00 – 18:00

VIP & Press previews
Press preview: Wednesday 3 October, 9:00 – 18:00
VIP preview: Wednesday 3 October, 9:00 – 18:00
Vernissage: Wednesday 3 October, 18:00 – 21:00