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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

South African, 20th century, male.

Born 1906, in Somerset East, Eastern Cape; died 1982, in Port Shepstone, Natal (KwaZulu-Natal).

Painter, watercolourist, draughtsman, printmaker, Collage, installations, performance art.

Walter Whall Battiss was raised in the Orange Free State (Free State), where he was introduced to rock art by William Fowler. He worked in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Office (...

Article

Elaine O’Brien

(b Mombasa, Kenya, Nov 2, 1962).

German multi-media installation and performance artist of Kenyan birth. Von Bonin is known for collaborative, richly associative and perplexing spaces full of artworks that suggest Alice-in-Wonderland narratives and evoke Claes Oldenburg’s playful relational strategies.

Von Bonin attained art world prominence soon after her first New York solo show in 1991. Her puckish neo-feminist conceptual art draws largely upon her experiences and friendships in the Cologne art world and neighborhood art scene. Von Bonin’s work challenges traditional stereotypes of the artist as male genius, creating art alone in his studio. The prestige of the artist’s signature is mocked in ‘solo’ shows such as her exhibition The Cousins (2000), held in Brunswick, which featured a large library installation by the artist Nils Norman (b 1966). Von Bonin arranged many installation events with fellow artists, musicians and writers, in which she played the role of curator-impresario as well as object maker. In her work different media and expressive idioms are re-mixed, the world of popular music in particular being integral to her ...

Article

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

Active in France.

Born 11 August 1962, in Johannesburg.

Printmaker, choreographer, performance artist. Identity politics.

Living Art.

Steven Cohen was the first South African artist under apartheid to create confrontational performance art engaging with sexual and cultural identity. He began his career in the 1980s, while conscripted into the South African army, when he went absent without leave and learnt how to screenprint at Cape Town’s Ruth Prowse School of Art....

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Egyptian, 20th century, male.

Born 1940, in Cairo.

Painter, watercolourist, illustrator, decorative artist. Decorative motifs. Stage costumes and sets, designs for jewellery.

A pupil at the Académie Julian, the École des Arts Decoratifs and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Georges Doche went on to show his work in several public exhibitions and, in particular, at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in Paris, as well as at several private galleries in Geneva, Tokyo and London. He had a number of solo exhibitions, including in Paris (...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Douala, 1962).

Cameroonian photographer and dancer, active in the Netherlands. Essamba moved to Paris at the age of nine and later studied philosophy at the Lyceum. After marrying and moving to Amsterdam, she studied photography at the Fotovaschool. She first exhibited at the Gallerie Art Collective, Amsterdam (1984), and subsequently has shown in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. In 1996 she was awarded the Prix Spécial Afrique at the Festival des Trois Continents, Nantes, for her 1995 suite of black-and-white photographs, White Line. Her images primarily represent black women, challenging Eurocentric expectations of depictions of Africans. She explores mysticism and eroticism through sensual depictions of strong bodies. Her focus on the aesthetics of the body is evident in poses that also show her interest in dance and movement. In 1991 her work was shown in Cameroon for the first time. While there she did a series, ...

Article

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

Born May 1968 in Johannesburg.

Conceptual, installation, performance and video artist.

Influenced by his identity as a white Afrikaner growing up during apartheid, Kendell Geers’ artistic production reveals questions of a political, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual nature.

2002, Documenta 11...

Article

Russell Gullette

(b Johannesburg, May 1968).

South African installation, performance, and video artist and photographer. Geers is part of a generation of African artists who emerged during the global expansion of the art world in the 1990s. Born into a white working-class family, he studied fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 1985 to 1987. Geers was exiled for refusing to serve in the South African Defence Force in 1989. With the threat of imprisonment removed after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in 1990 he returned to Johannesburg. Then in 2000 he moved to Brussels.

Geers has described his artistic position as a TerroRealist. His work features everyday, vernacular materials such as beer bottles, razor wire, pornography, neon signs, and expletives such as ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’. He employed these materials as a means to challenge various manifestations of power, whether state terror, working-class oppression, history, or, at his most poetic, language....

Article

Algerian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Belgium from 1979, naturalised in 1990.

Born 22 April 1952, in Kabylia (Bejaïa).

Painter, illustrator, musician. Local scenes.

Born in the Kabylia region in Algeria, Boubeker was also a storyteller and singer. He paints the everyday life of shepherds, camel herders, women going about their work in the home and garden, creating compositions full of narrative detail with a feel of childlike poetry. Hamsi began exhibiting his paintings in ...

Article

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

Born 1975, in Cape Town.

Sculptor, installation artist, performance artist, draughtsman.

Nicholas Hlobo, who lives in Johannesburg, graduated with a BTech: Fine Art degree at the Technikon Witwatersrand (now University of Johannesburg) in 2002. The sudden explosion in South African art (post ...

Article

Egyptian, 10th century, male.

Active at the end of the 10th century.

Painter. Local scenes.

Ibn El Azîz was a painter at the court of the Fatimids in Cairo. He was mainly in the service of Vizir Bazuri, for whom he painted among other works a ...

Article

Algerian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active from 1958 in France.

Born 1953, in Decazeville.

Intervention artist, assemblage artist.

Khimoune settled in Paris in 1958, where he studied at the school of fine arts. A militant figure of the new generation, he was involved with the radical Radio-Beur. A solo exhibition of his work was staged at the K. foundry in Aubervilliers in ...

Article

Kristine Stiles

(b Zambesi River, nr Victoria Falls, Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], Feb 23, 1921; d London, Jan 1, 2006).

British painter, sculptor, conceptual artist, performance artist, video and film maker, of Rhodesian birth. He studied at the Chelsea School of Art, London, from 1946 to 1950. His concern from 1954 was not with the production of art objects as an end in itself but with various processes and consequently with the recording in three dimensions of sequences of events and of patterns of knowledge. In 1958 he introduced torn, overpainted and partly burnt books into assemblages such as Burial of Count Orgaz (1958; London, Tate), followed in 1964 by the first of a series of SKOOB Towers (from ‘books’ spelt backwards), constructed from stacks of venerated tomes such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, which he ignited and burnt. The destruction and parody of systems of knowledge implied in Latham’s work was apparent in 1966, when he organized a party at which guests chewed pages of Clement Greenberg’s book Art and Culture...

Article

Algerian, 20th century, male.

Painter, performance artist.

Tarik Mesli studied at the school of fine arts in Algiers from 1985 to 1993. He took part in collective exhibitions, including the International Biennale, Algiers (1989); Galerie M, Oran (1992); and the Centre Culturel Algérien, Paris (...

Article

Kimberly Bobier

(b El Nuhud, 1951).

Sudanese multimedia and performance artist, art critic, and art historian, active in France. Musa graduated from the College of Fine and Applied Art, Khartoum Polytechnic, in 1974. After moving to Italy from Sudan, Musa relocated to France and matriculated at Montpellier University, earning ah Doctorate in Art History in 1989 and a teaching diploma in Fine Arts from Montpellier University in 1995. Subsequently, Musa created artist’s books and illustrated tomes of Sudanese folktales and taught calligraphy. His work critiques European imperialism by parodying the authoritative spectacles of Western museum displays, popular icons, and artistic masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (c. 1500–07; Paris, Louvre) and Gustave Courbet’s the Origin of the World (1866; Paris, Mus. Orsay), both referenced in Musa’s The Origin of Art (1998). Musa’s artwork has frequently addressed stereotypes of Africans and Arabs.

From the late 1980s Musa’s ongoing performance series ‘Graphic Ceremonies’ engaged public audiences in exploring the intersection between the art exhibition and ritual. In a performance at the ...

Article

Christine Robinson

[Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter]

(b Nairobi, 1975).

Kenyan and German performance artist, installation artist, photographer, and video artist. Mwangi’s work addresses notions of cultural difference, social conventions, racial categories, and national identity, primarily through an autobiographical lens. She has often utilized her body as a subject and engaged with questions related to her own African-European heritage. In 2005 Mwangi shifted from a mostly solo practice to a collaborative partnership with her husband, German artist Robert Hutter (b 1964). From that time, the pair has worked and exhibited exclusively under the name IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Together they have explored larger human experiences and universal issues of stereotypes, fear and negotiations between different cultures, genders, nationalities, and religions through multimedia works that have produced cross-cultural dialogues.

Mwangi was raised in Nairobi by a German mother and a Kenyan father. In 1990, as a teenager, she moved with her family to Germany and studied at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken from ...

Article

dele jegede

revised by Kristina Borrman

(b Idumuje-Ugboko, Delta State, Dec 20, 1935).

Nigerian painter, sculptor, architect, and set designer. Nwoko’s works of art and architecture have been understood as exhibiting the tensions between modernism and indigenous design. Nwoko’s own published discussions of the political history of Nigeria and his recommendations for improvements in education, medicine, environmental conservation, and mechanical engineering have inspired art histories that describe him as not only an artist–architect but as an advocate for social reform.

Nwoko was one of the first of his generation of contemporary Nigerian artists to study fine arts at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (1957–61). During his time as a student in Nigeria, Nwoko (along with classmate Uche Okeke) designed the Pavilion of Arts and Crafts, Lagos, in celebration of Nigerian Independence (1960). After his graduation, Nwoko won a scholarship from the Congress for Cultural Freedom to study scenic design at the Centre Français du Théâtre. Nwoko continued his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, choosing to add the disciplines of fresco painting and architectural decoration to his educational programme....

Article

Dele Jegede

(b Ijebu-Odu; d c. ?1950s).

Nigerian sculptor. Self-taught, he used a pocket-knife to create from soft-woods small figures representing missionaries, chiefs, polo players, masked dancers and district officers, among others. Although they often are viewed as caricatures, these figures record contemporary life. Usually carved singly, his figures are often presented as a narrative installation or tableau. Ona was a keen observer of the people who inhabited colonial Nigeria. His style and favoured themes are best represented in pieces that show a District Officer on tour, in a boat, accompanied by a group of figures whose smaller scale alludes to their lower position in the social hierarchy. He was inventive in his medium: his figures are coloured with red and black ink and white shoe polish. The head was emphasized proportionately, in keeping with Yoruba aesthetics. While the figures are monoxylous, their accoutrements (hats, canes etc.) are often removable. Ona moved to Lagos in the 1940s and sold carvings to expatriates. His work was exhibited in the Contemporary African Arts show at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, in ...

Article

Bolaji V. Campbell

(b Iragbiji, 1940).

Nigerian painter, musician and actor. He was an actor and drummer with the Duro Lapido Theatre Company in 1960s, touring with the group for two years. In 1964 he attended the Mbari Mbayo Workshop in Oshogbo and began painting, inspired by Hezbon Owiti’s work. His first exhibition was in Edinburgh in 1967. His early works were abstract oil paintings of city life, in which he explored problems facing urban dwellers—pregnancy, hunger, the run-down city environment. He painted with bold, textural brushstrokes, often using a palette knife or roller, and he juxtaposed muted colour with strong line to create emotional and visual impact. In the 1980s his work became more figurative, and he began to deal with more generic themes of innocence, evil, humour. He obtained a diploma in dramatic arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, where he was an instructor in the Music Department for many years.

J. Kennedy: ‘Muraina Oyelami of Nigeria’, ...