For the last few years, Modern Painters has had a mission to include art from every corner of the world. There is an artistic life outside America, outside the West and the East: this month we are turning our focus to Africa.
For a long time and for many people, the term “African art” meant only primitive tribal works, however incorrect that assumption may have been. Now artists from that continent are increasingly recognized and being represented in galleries, museums and private collections everywhere.
By way of a primer, we start with one of our provocative Top 10 lists, this time of the best African artists to watch. We may all know Marlene Dumas, who moved from South Africa to Amsterdam in the 1970s, though what about El Anatsui or even Julie Mehretu?
The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is another good introduction to the subject, and in this issue its founder Touria El Glaoui talks with Sarah Moroz about the fair’s background and upcoming edition. She says that many observers need correcting for their tendency to categorize artists simply as “African,” rather than just being recognized as a painter, sculptor or whatever.
Taking on board this universal spirit of all artists being “citizens of the world,” this issue manages to be our best-travelled yet.
From Naples, we hear from Jerome Neutres on the Cai Guo-Qiang show he’s curated, about Pompeii and how Italian volcanic destruction resulted in creation.
From Bogota, Anya Harrison reports on the ways the Colombian capital has used its major art fair to energize the arts community.
From New Delhi, Archana Khare-Ghose describes high-profile cultural openings around India leading up to the latest, the Kolkata Centre for Creativity.
From Antwerp, we hear from the Belgian gallerist Tim Van Laere about his new architectdesigned gallery.
From London, the curator Matthew Gale speaks of a Tate Modern exhibition devoted to Pierre Bonnard; while Julia Peyton Jones explains her move from the Serpentine Gallery to the British branch of Galerie Thaddeus Ropac.
From Paris, we tour another Ropac show, this one being monumentally minimalist.
In Shanghai, the curator Weiwei Wang talks about letting the fair’s art reflect a troubled world at the city’s Biennale.
From New York, the curator Iria Candela guides us around a Metropolitan Museum exhibition of Lucio Fontana’s career.
Along the way, we discover Charlie Brown works at London’s Somerset House; Kevin Beasley’s first solo show at a New York museum; learn how the Netherlands embraced Bauhaus; and we redefine abstract art at the Met.
Louisa Elderton speaks with the Berlin gallerist Aeneas Bastian about his opening of a new outpost in London, defying fears about Brexit. He sees no sign that the gallery scene is slowing in “an outstanding metropolis and a major marketplace.”
Obviously, good art can be found on every side of the globe. Painters everywhere are wrestling with the same problems of how to face up to a digital age. Artists seem universally concerned about the future of mankind in the face of the rise of technology and artificial intelligence. Touria El Glaoui is quite right: we need to forget small definitions and think big and globally, in art and life.
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