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Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

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

Carol Magee

(b Dec 8, 1956).

Ethiopian painter, installation artist, graphic designer, and writer, active in the USA. She grew up in Addis Ababa in a family of painters before moving to the USA. She graduated from Howard University, Washington, DC, with a BFA in painting (1975) and returned in 1994 for an MFA. Her early works, based on dreams or visions, have richly textured surfaces. In the 1980s she abandoned her early palette of reds, ochres, and greens for one of purples and blues. Later paintings depict an urban environment and frequently evoke the feeling of dislocation and nostalgia that comes from living in a country that is not one’s own. Her use of themes and motifs from myriad cultures (including those of Ethiopia and Latin America) comes out of her experiences as a diasporic subject as well as the lives of the women around her. Her pieces often tell their stories, as in the Dream Dancers series (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Nigeria, 1963).

Nigerian photographer, film maker, installation artist and writer active in Scotland. He studied Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University, Glasgow (1981–85), before completing an MA in Media, Fine Art, Theory and Practice at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1996–8). Bamgboyé’s earliest work was photographic: The Lighthouse series (1989; see 1998 book, p. 65) initiated his interest in the representation of black masculinity by depicting his own naked body in often theatrical contortions, amid mundane domestic rooms; the frames of the photographs are attached to coat hangers, underlining the theme of domesticity and pointing to his interest in the changeable character of subjectivity. These themes were further explored in films, which he began to make in 1993: Spells for Beginners (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 74) explores the breakdown of his long-term relationship with a woman through a broken mix of confessional dialogue and fleeting images of their home. The installation of which this film is a part takes the form of an ordinary living room and is typical of Bamgboyé’s technique of adumbrating his imagery with sculptural motifs that emphasize his themes. In other films he explored the issue of migration: ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Umlazi, Durban, July 19, 1972). South African photographer and video and installation artist. Muholi has identified as a black Zulu lesbian and her artworks engage with her own identity at the same time as they seek to integrate LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) identities into mainstream acceptance in South Africa and elsewhere. Muholi is part of a generation of African artists for whom photography remains a powerful tool for socio-political commentary in the post-colonial and post-apartheid era. In ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Khemis Miliana, 1948).

Algerian painter, installation artist and poet, active in England. She studied art and music in Algeria and at the Camden Art Centre and Croydon College of Art, both London, after moving to England in 1979. Her politics were informed by the Algerian war for independence and her experiences in Europe. Her work, exhibited in the USA and Europe, addresses European artistic treatments of African peoples, for example the Orientalist paintings of Delacroix and French colonial postcards; she reworked Delacroix’s figures, for instance, presenting a different reading of the female body. In an effort to engage her audience fully, she has produced multi-media and multi-sensory works. Her installations included video, sound recordings and photographs, and she often recited poetry and sang traditional songs at her exhibitions. Her paintings present layers of bright colours, with the darkest, top layer often scraped off to reveal those beneath. This scratching creates vital, dynamic lines that produce powerful effects on the viewer. She combines the visual traditions of West Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Europe in a critique of colonial and post-independence rule; her subject-matter also included representations of women and their treatment....

Article

Chika Okeke

(b Aba, 1964).

Nigerian painter, installation artist, art historian and poet. He carried out undergraduate studies work (1981–6) and some graduate work (1987–9) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. There he trained with Obiora Udechukwu, whose influence can be seen in Oguibe's use of uli, nsibidi and mbari motifs (see under Ejagham and Africa §V 3.). From 1986 to 1987 he taught at the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta. He also wrote poetry and in 1992 won the Christopher Okigbo All-Africa Prize for A Gathering Fear. He spent 1990 as an artist-in-residence in Bayreuth, Germany, and 1994 in Friebourg. He studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, receiving a PhD in art history in 1992. Between 1995 and 1999 he taught art history at the University of Chicago and the University of South Florida, Tampa.

In the early 1980s his work comprised painted mats and cane meshes, but he returned to watercolour and acrylic while in London, and in the 1990s he moved increasingly towards installation and conceptual art. Compositionally, some of his paintings were inspired by Fante flags and mbari murals, with patterned borders and simple motifs in the centre of the picture plane. Often confrontational, his pieces address the politics of art as well as the Nigerian world. His installation pieces, for example, evoked memories and experiences of the Biafran war (the Nigerial civil war). His work of the mid- to late-1990s is multivalent, its meanings less fixed and its messages less direct. He is also a prolific writer on contemporary African art....

Article

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

Born 5 February 1958, in Pretoria.

Printmaker, sculptor, watercolourist, curator.

Joachim Schönfeldt spent his childhood in Windhoek, Namibia, and graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1980. He began his career as a researcher into old African art and curios and spent time during the 1980s as a curator of the Meneghelli Holdings. His work in the field of African curios was seminal to the development of his art, which explores the idea of casting mythical realities on African value systems, involving found objects, multiple-headed animals, and peri-urban local landscapes drawn from photographs of his childhood holidays....

Article

Joanna Grabski

[ El Sy ]

(b Dakar, Sept 9, 1954).

Senegalese painter, installation artist, curator and writer. After graduating from the Institut National des Arts du Senegal (1977), where he specialized in painting, he travelled in Africa, Europe and the United States. He played an active role in Dakar’s artistic community, serving as president of the Association Nationale des Artistes Plasticiens du Senegal as well as co-founding the Village des Arts, a cooperative studio space, and Tenq, an artists’ workshop. He won first prize for his mosaic at the Stadium of Friendship, Dakar (1986). Intending to provoke dialogue and commentary, his work challenges conventional modes of production and display. In addition to painting with his feet in the 1970s and 1980s, he painted on such innovative materials as jute sacks and fibreglass cloth used for making kites. His work is characterized by its emphasis on the gestural movement of painting, as seen in the sweeping brushstrokes and curvilinear forms of ...