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Article

Egyptian, 20th century, male.

Born 1925; died 1988.

Sculptor, painter. Animals.

Salah Abdel Kerim studied at Cairo's faculty of art, continuing his studies in Italy and in Paris. He was appointed Professor of Decorative Art at the same faculty in Cairo and was later appointed Dean of Fine Arts in the city....

Article

Regenia Perry, Christina Knight, dele jegede, Bridget R. Cooks, Camara Dia Holloway and Jenifer P. Borum

[Afro-American; Black American]

Term used to describe art made by Americans of African descent. While the crafts of African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries continued largely to reflect African artistic traditions (see Africa, §VIII), the earliest fine art made by professional African American artists was in an academic Western style (see fig.).

Regenia Perry, revised by Christina Knight

The first African American artist to be documented was Joshua Johnson, a portrait painter who practised in and around Baltimore, MD. Possibly a former slave in the West Indies, he executed plain, linear portraits for middle-class families (e.g. Sarah Ogden Gustin, c. 1798–1802; Washington, DC, N.G.A.). Only one of the approximately 83 portraits attributed to Johnson is signed, and none is dated. There are only two African American sitters among Johnson’s attributions. Among the second generation of prominent 19th-century African American artists were the portrait-painter ...

Article

Theresa Leininger-Miller

[Negro Colony]

Group of African American artists active in France in the 1920s and 1930s. Between the world wars Paris became a Mecca for a “lost generation” of Americans. Hundreds of artists, musicians, and writers from all over the world flocked to the French capital in search of a sense of community and freedom to be creative. For African Americans, the lure of Paris was enhanced by fear of and disgust with widespread racial discrimination experienced in the United States. They sought a more nurturing environment where their work would receive serious attention, as well as the chance to study many of the world’s greatest cultural achievements. France offered this along with an active black diasporal community with a growing sense of Pan-Africanism. Painters, sculptors, and printmakers thrived there, studying at the finest art academies, exhibiting at respected salons, winning awards, seeing choice art collections, mingling with people of diverse ethnic origins, dancing to jazz, and fervently discussing art, race, literature, philosophy, and politics. Although their individual experiences differed widely, they had much in common, including exposure to traditional European art, African art, modern art, and proto-Negritude ideas. As a result of their stay in Paris, all were affected artistically, socially, and politically in positive ways and most went on to have distinguished careers....

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

Aldine  

Egyptian, 20th century, male.

Active in France.

Born 1917, in Cairo.

Painter, sculptor.

Aldine received a doctorate in science and from 1953 to 1960, he was cultural advisor at the Egyptian embassy in Paris. Although he began painting in 1948, he only took it up as a full-time activity after his retirement from the administrative service in ...

Article

Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian art style that takes its name from Amarna, (Tell) el-, the site of the capital city during the reigns of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) and Smenkhkare (reg c. 1335–c. 1332 bc). Amarna-style painting and sculpture were characterized by a move away from the traditional idealism of Egyptian art towards a greater realism and artistic freedom. This new sense of vigour and naturalism is most apparent in surviving fragments of paintings from the walls and floors of palaces (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Oxford, Ashmolean; see Egypt, ancient §X 2.). The statuary and reliefs, mainly from el-Amarna, Thebes and Hermopolis Magna, represent the royal family and their subjects in a style that was initially grotesque and often crude, as the artists struggled to come to terms with the new approach (see Egypt, ancient §IX 3., (viii)). However, they eventually reached a high degree of sophistication and beauty, exemplified by the painted limestone bust of Queen ...

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Chika Okeke

(b Enugu, Jan 17, 1957).

Nigerian painter and sculptor. He was schooled at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu (1978–82), and taught at Oyo State College of Education, Ilesha. In 1983 he joined the staff at the Umoka Technical Secondary School, and he has taught sculpture in the art department of IMT, Enugu. He had several solo shows in the mid-1980s and showed with AKA, an artists’ group in Nsukka of which he was a founding member, from 1986 to 1990. He was influenced by the Nsukka school and their interest in cursive line, uli (see Nigeria, Federal Republic of §V). His early work was realistic, but in the early 1980s he began his abstract Live Wire series, using welded wires to create relief drawings, for which he quickly gained critical attention. In the mid 1980s he created mixed media sculptures combining metal and concrete: mass and weight, represented by concrete that was often worked to simulate marble and other stone, is countered by the linear quality of wire. The result is the same sensitive interplay of line and space evident in traditional ...

Article

Algerian, 20th century, male.

Active since 1982 active in France.

Sculptor, painter, engraver.

From 1978 to 1982 he studied at the school of fine arts in Algiers, where he graduated in visual communications. He then went on to study at the Institut d'Arts Visuels in Orléans ...

Article

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

Born 1956, in Kitwe, Zambia.

Painter, sculptor, printmaker, video artist, land artist, watercolourist, curator.

Clive van den Berg came to South Africa in 1966, and trained at the University of Natal. He taught fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg ...

Article

Ethiopian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active since 1971 active in France.

Born 15 February 1951, in Dire Dawa.

Sculptor, painter (including gouache). Allegorical subjects, figures, circus scenes.

Micaël Béthé-Sélassié did not become involved in fine arts until he was 30. He produces figures, groups and deities painted in gouache or 'sculpted' in papier-mâché, painted in variegated colours and frequently mounted on a wood base. Témi Hirsch has said that Béthé-Sélassié produces a 'riot of giant figures in an admixture of cross-bred styles ranging from the formally ritual and to the unfettered spontaneous'. Since ...

Article

Simon Njami

(b Douala, 1962).

Cameroonian painter, sculptor and installation artist, active in France. He moved to Paris in 1974 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; he began exhibiting in the late 1980s, showing in France, Switzerland, Spain and Greece, among other places. Unlike many African artists living in Europe, he never felt dislocated. His sculptures, canvases and installation pieces combine all manner of found objects and other material that he manufactures himself. With these he comments on issues of representation and artistic practice in the Western world, at the same time evoking the presence and/or absence of humans, and therefore memory. The objects he uses are symbolic as well: eggs signify renewal, for instance. His compositions are simple and striking, as is his use of colour. In one work, for example, a ‘mummified’ figure appears on each side panel in the same thick white paint as the ground, holding a red rose against a metal plate. Against the black centre panel is an orange dress, under which are white flowers....

Article

Joanna Grabski

(b Mbour, June 13, 1965).

Senegalese sculptor and painter. He graduated from the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Dakar (1993). As a student, he was inspired by the popular social movement Set Setal, which emphasized the role of Dakar’s citizens in cleaning up their surroundings and transforming used objects rather than abandoning them. His work focuses on the aesthetic interplay of recovered materials, as exemplified in Environnement 2 (...

Article

El Hadji Sy

(b Dakar, July 29, 1958).

Senegalese painter and sculptor. After graduating from the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Dakar (1977–81), he attended the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (1987–9). Characterized as an abstract realist, his extensive training is exemplified by his skill at combining visual elements from painting, sculpture and decorative art. Throughout his career he has explored themes of local life in urban Dakar, including car rapides and market venders, as in Rang Bi Dokoul (1999; artist's col.). This portrayal of a tomato-seller demonstrates Camara’s expressionistic application of intense color to convey both sculptural volume and the effects of light. In the 1980s and 1990s his work often incorporated shadows, handprints and looming figures. He has exhibited widely, participating in Africa Explores (New York, 1991), Dak’Art ’92 and Dak’Art ’96, and the Tenq workshops of 1994 (in St Louis) and 1996 (in Dakar). He has also been active in supporting the training and exhibitions of young artists in Dakar. His work has been recognized by national and international awards, including first prize for painting, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (...

Article

El Hadji Sy

(b St Louis, Sept 28, 1948).

Senegalese painter, sculptor and teacher. After graduating from the Institut National des Arts du Senegal, in Dakar (1972–7), he attended the Ecole Nationale Supérieure, Cachan, in France (1988). He took a position as a professor at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Dakar, in 1988 and was named head of the Departement Arts plastiques in 1996. From 1986 to 1996 he produced mainly paper collages, creating abstract, highly patterned works. He began working with accumulative wood and metal sculpture in 1996. His sculptural work, for example Untitled (1998; artist’s col.), makes use of organic materials such as straw, fiber and calabash. Both collages and sculptures are characterized by the notion of accumulation and the lyrical repetition of forms. Camara has participated in several group exhibitions in Africa and Europe, including Dak’Art ’96 and Dak’Art ’98. He received the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite from the government of Senegal in ...

Article

Algerian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 5 March 1948, in Oran.

Painter.

The grandson of a wood sculptor, Cherfaoui was a student at the fine arts school in Oran from 1962 before leaving for France in 1966. Here he attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Tourcoing, followed by the École des Beaux-Arts in Nantes where he was awarded a diploma in decorative art. He returned to Algeria in ...

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France from 1974.

Born 27 October 1949, in Cairo.

Painter, sculptor, engraver. Figures.

Sayed Darwiche learnt painting from his father, a calligrapher. He left Egypt after the two Egyptian-Israeli wars. His drawings and paintings show the figures of men, women and children, but through a violent form of expressionist deformation which approaches the work of the Abstract Expressionist artist Wilhem De Kooning, though his chosen blend of colours gives a sense of softness and luxury. Sayed Darwiche's sculptures, carved from old wood or quarried stone, come close to abstraction. They consist of curved, taut volumes whose sensual fullness contrasts with the ruggedness of his drawings and paintings....

Article

dele jegede

(b Buguma, 1958).

Nigerian sculptor, painter, and film maker, active in England. Born in Nigeria, Douglas Camp grew up in England but continued to visit Nigeria regularly. She was educated at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA, (1979–80) and the Central School of Art and Design, London (1980–83), receiving a BA (Hons) in sculpture. From 1983 to 1986 she studied at the Royal College of Art in London, graduating with the MA degree in sculpture. She made her first steel sculpture, Church Ede, a rendering of a Kalabari funeral bed, after her father’s death in 1984. She then began to portray other elements of ritual life, such as masqueraders and their audiences, as in Kalabari Masquerader with Boat Headdress (1987). During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s she worked almost exclusively in steel, often animating the pieces, as in Festival Boat (1985...

Article

Egyptian, 20th century, male.

Born 1940.

Painter, sculptor, ceramicist.

Abdel El Dawakhli studied at Cairo's higher academy of art, then qualified as an art teacher from the San Fernando academy in Madrid and as a master potter and ceramicist from Madrid's central school. He was appointed professor at the higher academy of art in Cairo and, from ...

Article

Moroccan, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in France.

Born 1950, in Casablanca.

Painter, sculptor, sculptor of assemblages, draughtswoman, illustrator.

Sylvia Elharar-Lemberg studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the art teachers training college in Tel Aviv. Her paintings and drawings create the effect of transparency and obliteration, often starting from the square design of a tetragram. She also creates assemblages, such as mysterious grills, iron rods placed alongside labels and photographic plates. Sylvia Elharar-Lemberg has shown at group exhibitions in France since ...