"African Contemporary Art has been overlooked for far too long, I am proud to take part in its renaissance through active acquisitions, institutional lending, project development, and our unique Africa First residency program."
- Serge Tiroche, Founder
Devan Shimoyama, Diamond - Self Titled, 2020
ABOUT AFRICA FIRST
Africa First was founded by Serge Tiroche in 2017 as a platform to support and promote Contemporary Art from the continent. An active collector of African Contemporary art for over a decade, he decided to focus his private collecting and residency program on emerging artists from Africa and its diaspora.
Africa First actively promotes the artists in its collection through its website, gallery collaborations, a lending program, digital media, an artist residency, newsletters, sponsorships, prizes and commissions, as well as various forms of collaboration and advisory work with a multitude of institutions in the art ecosystem. These activities are essential for the advancement of the artist’s profiles and ultimately long-term value creation.
The collection was founded at a time when the contemporary African art market was in its nascent stages and we were fortunate to benefit from the explosive growth and recognition that has taken place since. We are proud to have contributed a little to that change in visibility, understanding and interest. The continent is now starting to form a proper art infrastructure thanks to private sector initiatives which include museums, galleries, art fairs, media, non-profit spaces and art foundations, many of whom we collaborate with. Global demand for African contemporary art has grown dramatically. Within the continent this demand is being fueled by rising numbers of high net worth individuals and demand from African corporations. Internationally, more and more galleries, art fairs, collectors, museums and biennales are embracing African artists. On the institutional side, the growing interest in Africa and Diaspora artists was validated during the 2022 Venice Biennale where all 4 top prizes were awarded to black artists. In tandem, international auction houses have experienced incredible growth in African art auctions, with turnover surging 44% in 2021 alone, to over $70 million according to ArtTactic. In response to the pandemic related hiatus of the Africa First residency program, in 2022 we successfully initiated a series of joint ventures with commercial galleries around the world, aimed at promoting emerging voices from Africa.
Kutlo Mabua, You & I, 2021
Lerato Motaung, Thrill Team , 2021
Africa First has built a large collection comprising some 500 works by approximately 150 artists from all over the continent and the African diaspora. The platform serves as a resource for aspiring artists, collectors, curators and other market participants, and has a strong social agenda as it works hard to promote and disseminate African contemporary art. Our widespread lending program to galleries, museums and institutions around the world is coupled with promotional activities that include social media presence, our artist residency program, a semi-annual newsletter and various commercial ventures, working with online platforms, auction houses, art fairs and international galleries. These activities are essential for the advancement of the artists and ultimately long-term value creation.
MEET THE TEAM
The Africa First team is composed of devoted, hard-working individuals with a true passion for the art world and the exciting role we play in the promotion and dissemination of contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. Harnessing the individual skills of each member of our term we try to remain small, dynamic, and opportunistic. We react quickly to new ideas and have a proven track record in incorporating and executing innovation on an ongoing basis.
Since launching in 2017, we expanded from a collection to a residency program, a client advisory platform, organizing and executing online auctions, sponsoring prizes and publications, and most recently launching the 'Africa First X' gallery collaboration model, including a first art fair participation. We are always keen to strike up collaborations around the world, so if your idea aligns with our core mission, we'd be delighted to hear from you.