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Algerian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1949, in Constantine.

Painter, miniaturist. Local scenes, scenes with figures, landscapes.

Nasreddine Abbassi was a student at the Algiers school of art. After doing a number of different jobs, he decided to take up painting as a full-time profession. Since ...

Article

Simon Njami

Beninois installation artist. He studied law in France, and it was not until he returned to Benin in 1971 that he became an artist, by accident. Considered mad by his family, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital a few times before encountering Jean Michel Rousset, a young Frenchman who reassured him about his talent. In his compound Adaeagbo creates an ever-changing assemblage of found materials: sculptures, stones, clothing, newspapers. New materials are added, and old objects are rearranged. These creations function as historical documents of his times, as well as of particular days, as he works each day after his walks. His work has been described as reflecting and evoking the ‘madness in words’: the inability to understand words, and the conflicts that arise from this lack of understanding. It can also be seen as a comment on his own life and the suffering of a misunderstood artist. In Adaeagbo’s smaller pieces, objects are combined with a greater emphasis on symbolic intent than aesthetic concerns. He has exhibited at the Institut Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (...

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 23 June 1929, in Johannesburg; died 31 December 2006, in London.

Painter, printmaker, draughtsman.

Albert Adams moved to Cape Town with his mother and sister at the age of four. After high school he studied at Hewat College, and attended art classes with Peter Clarke; he was refused entrance to the Michaelis School of Fine Art because of the colour of his skin....

Article

Nigerian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1954, in Idanre.

Painter. Genre scenes, scenes with figures.

Tayo Adenaike studied under the painter Udechukwu, who influenced many artists. He paints Nigerian society in the uli style, which takes its inspiration from the traditional forms of expression used by women and in particular old decorative motifs of an abstract nature. He participated in ...

Article

Bolaji V. Campbell

Nigerian painter. He received his BA from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1974), and his MFA from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1982), where he trained with Uche Okeke and Obiora Udechukwu. Udechukwu's influence can be seen in Adenaika's use of uli...

Article

Kristina Borrman

British architect of Tanzanian birth and Ghanaian descent. David Adjaye’s projects span a wide range of architectural categories including residential buildings, retail spaces, civic buildings, and art installations. After establishing his own practice in 2000, Adjaye’s work inspired critics and historians to consider his buildings in terms of their carefully considered spatial relationships to their sites, the intense multi-sensory experiences they offer users, and their interrogation of architecture’s ability to communicate ideas concerning place, identity, and symbolic value....

Article

David Murphy

African film refers to a corpus of work whose geographical and historical range remains ambiguous. African film criticism emerged in the late 1980s–early 1990s as a distinct body of research within the Anglophone academy. Landmark early texts, such as Manthia Diawara’s African Cinema: Politics and Culture...

Article

Togolese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 12 February 1977, in Lomé.

Painter (mixed media).

Félix Agbokou studied under Sokey Edoth between 1996 and 1999. He abandoned realism in favour of depicting a fantasy world, and his paintings are spontaneous to the extent that they have no predefined theme. Painted at night and by candlelight, each series of paintings is directly inspired by its immediate surroundings: Lomé, Kouma, Abouri or Ghana. Agbokou uses materials that come readily to hand - leaves of indigenous plants or the bark of local trees - and mixes them with acrylic paint, outlining his forms and individual colours with a black line obtained from a mixture of coconut milk and old nails. His work has featured at group exhibitions, including the ...

Article

Beninese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1964.

Painter (mixed media).

Simplice Ahouansou is self-taught. In a manner that shows affinities with Surrealism, some of his paintings comment with irony on certain aspects of modern Western civilisation, such as communication, or protection of private property, while other works seem more firmly anchored in the artistic traditions of his native country of Benin....

Article

Tanzanian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1950.

Painter. Scenes with figures, animals.

Abdallah Ajaba's work is reminiscent of that of Tinga Tinga and Linda to the extent that his square-format paintings depict animals, village scenes and ornamental elements derived from the traditional decorations applied to house façades and walls in his native Tanzania....

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France.

Born 1952, in Tunisia.

Calligrapher, painter.

Abdallah Akar was born in southern Tunisia and arrived in Paris at the end of the 1960s. He studied drawing, painting and, in particular, calligraphy with the Iranian master Ghani Alani. He has taught calligraphy at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris since ...

Article

Chika Okeke

Nigerian sculptor. He had no formal artistic training, although in the early 1960s he experimented in clay and, later, cement. He was apprenticed to a bricklayer, and in 1972 he established his own sculpture studio. That year he exhibited figures of Nigerian soldiers and governors in the Uyo Division Festival of Art and won several prizes. Drawing on popular culture and on the funerary traditions of ...

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison....

Article

Aurélie Verdier

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1959, in Johannesburg.

Photomontage artist, sculptor of assemblages, installation artist.

Jane Alexander completed a Master of Arts in Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1988. She has been professor at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, since ...

Article

Kevin Mulhearn

South African sculptor and installation and multimedia artist. Though Alexander trained as a sculptor at the University of the Witwatersrand, earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1982 and a Masters in 1988, she nevertheless pursued a variety of artistic disciplines, regularly employing photomontage and sometimes using video in her practice. While working towards her Masters’ degree, she produced ...

Article

Angolan, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Belgium from 1987.

Born 8 August 1963, in Luanda, Angola, of Portuguese origin.

Painter, collage artist, installation artist.

Fernando Alvim has lived and worked in Luanda, Brussels and Johannesburg. In Brussels he founded Camouflage, Europe's first centre of contemporary African art, the counterpart of the centre in Johannesburg. His work derives from memory, particularly of the war liberating Angola from colonialism, a war whose horror and misery he lived through. A particular vision of African tradition expresses itself through his painting....

Article

Carol Magee and Kimberly Bobier

Angolan sculptor, installation artist, and curator. Alvim began exhibiting internationally in the 1980s, at such shows as Africus, the 1995 Johannesburg Biennale; the 1997 Bienal de Havana; and Dak’Art ’98. His mixed-media pieces are powerful, haunting works through which he explores the memories and scars left by the trauma of growing up in a war-torn country. He generally evokes life in Luanda: displaced peoples, failed hopes, the patchwork organization of the urban space. In his overwhelmingly dark scenes, neon light illuminates found objects surrounded by canvas or metal, often superimposed with photographic images, creating a psychological intensity. Crosses, skulls, and maps predominate in his work of the early 1990s. In ...

Article

Algerian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France since 1953.

Born 1952, in Bougie.

Sculptor. Figures, nudes, animals.

Mohand Amara's studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris initially focused on painting. He sculpts figures, in particular bodies of men and horses with muscles tensed....

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1963, in Cairo.

Draughtswoman, embroiderer.

Ghada Amer grew up in Paris. She studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nice before travelling to the USA where she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She lives and works in both New York and Paris. In 2005 she was Artist in Residence at Kansas City Art Institute....