Africa First in 2021
a roller-coaster year, higher!
With all the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, limited travels, market jitter, and a frozen residency program, 2021 turned out to be an exceptional year of business development, restructuring, and several new partnerships.
Our collection has grown to 475 artworks by 155 artists, a tad shy of our target size of 500 works. This is one of the reasons for our decision to part with a number of works during the year, particularly by artists ‘of the moment’ or those by which we have an expansive selection.
We also took some time to restructure and streamline our operations, leading to greater efficiency and an ability to expand our reach with new collaborations.
We acquired 150 new works in 2021 and sold 26, mostly via promoted collaborations with Artnet and Phillips, s
etting a dozen new auction records for artists in the collection. The cost of new acquisitions was c. 50% more than proceeds from sales.
The Artnet collaboration, titled ‘Africa Present’, included setting up an African gallery platform on Artnet and organizing 2 auctions in April and September. Despite its overall success, we have decided to discontinue this collaboration in order to focus our efforts on new initiatives. We also held 2 highly successful ‘Africa First’ auctions on the Phillips New Now platform in July and December, where we sold all but 1 of the 12 works offered, setting 7 new auction records. We intend to continue to explore this collaboration further in 2022.
During 2021 we also had several opportunities to exhibit works from the collection outside the auction rooms. In the spring we finished the refurbishment of my home in Jaffa that included a total rehang, mostly of works from the Africa First Collection. See some installation views below.
In October we lent a dozen works from the collection for an exhibition organized by The Luxury Network African Art Series in collaboration with Sotheby’s, at the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge during Frieze week. Images follow. We also made loans of 2 works by Sheena Rose to an exhibition curated by Zoe Lukov at the Palm Heights hotel in Miami in December; nominated 3 of the finalists of the prestigious Norval Foundation Sovereign Art Prize - Modupeola Fadugba, Helen Teede & Banele Khoza; and sponsored the Art Harare Africa First Art Prize, where Franklyn Dzingai and Wilfrid Timire were selected by a prestigious jury (comprised of Fadzai Muchemwa, Moffat Takadiwa, Marwan Zakhem, Richard Mudariki and myself). The winners will go on residencies in Israel and Ghana respectively, followed by a joint exhibition at Gallery 1957 in Accra during 2022. See the short clip produced by Art Harare below.
Furthermore, while hosting residencies remains highly uncertain and our desire to contribute to the career development of emerging artists remains, we are super excited to announce our major new initiative for 2022. In collaboration with Israel’s preeminent Gordon Gallery, we are launching a series of exhibitions for emerging artists from Africa & the Diaspora. Africa First X Gordon aims to present more than half a dozen selling exhibitions this year across Gordon gallery’s 3 spaces in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Several artists are already working towards their exhibitions, the first of which is scheduled to take place in spring. Follow my Instagram @sergetiroche for updates, as well as the Africa First and Gordon Gallery websites. The exhibitions program will be supported by an exclusive group of hand-picked international collectors.