Devan Shimoyama, The Abduction of Ganymede, 2019, mixed media on canvas
Africa First in 2022
A Wake-up Call
The world has woken up to a new reality since I last wrote in January. We are at the beginning of what I believe has been coming for many years and is now finally hitting us, a Global recession!
The manipulations of central banks and governments have to face reality at some point. Printing money like there’s no consequences to it only pumped more temporary air into the already over-inflated balloon. Besides the unreasonable amounts of artificial stimulus, we’re still fighting a global pandemic, we have a war raging on in the Ukraine which is reducing global supply of oil and gas and putting added inflationary pressures; an ongoing trade-war between the US and China, and the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, to name some of our wows. The balloon has given up and is starting to let air out. The Crypto market has taken a nose dive along with the NFT market. The s**t has hit the fan.
Fortunately, the artificial mechanisms of the physical art market managed to keep appearances more or less healthy in the recent summer auctions. Personally, I am of the opinion that here too we should expect the air to come out later on this year and the next, as we should in other asset classes, most significantly Real Estate.
Despite fearing this was coming, at Africa First we’ve continued to do our work of promoting African Contemporary Art around the world. Over the past 6 months we acquired some 70 new works, mostly by younger artists, and sold 19 by more established ones. For the first time since founding Africa First in 2017, total sales have exceeded acquisitions in the period. The Africa First collection now stands at some 530 works, beyond our long-term target of 500.
Besides collection management our work has included the establishment of several new collaborations.
We successfully launched “Africa First X Gordon” in Israel, with 3 well-received exhibitions by Tafadzwa Tega (Zimbabwe), Tafadzwa Masudi (Zimbabwe) and Sizwe Sama (South Africa). Our next exhibitions will be for Ghanaian painter Daniel Gyekyi Gyan (1992) and for our incredible South African artist in residence, Simphiwe Mbunyuza who is currently spending his first month at The Bezalel Academy of Art & design in Jerusalem.
I’m pleased to also announce that the “Africa First X” program is spreading its wings with 2 upcoming collaborations in London and Paris in October. Africa First at JD Malat Gallery will present Tafadzwa Tega’s first solo exhibition in London with an opening during Frieze week. A week later in Paris “Africa First X Lys” are organizing a “Fashion X Art” booth at the AKAA art fair (in parallel with the inaugural Paris + fair, by Art Basel) featuring 6 artists – Emmanuel Unaji (Nigeria), Tafadzwa Tega, Tafadzwa Masudi, Abongile Sidzumo (South Africa), Lanise Howard (USA) and Prudence Chimutuwah (Zimbabwe).
Also on the commercial front, we had a successful 3rd iteration of the Africa First auction program at Phillips’ New Now in April, this time featuring 9 works made by 9 artists during previous residencies. All works sold with 5 artists setting new auction records, raising awareness to their practice on a global scale.
In May, I went to Venice for the 59th Venice Biennale where Africa First co-produced a series of videos about African participation at the biennale, in collaboration with ART AFRICA magazine. In addition to several short videos featuring the artists, curators and pavilions, an ongoing and holistic documentary will cement the noteworthy achievements of Africa at the Venice Biennale, which is currently in preparation. ‘Another ambitious Venice project we are working on, in collaboration with AKKA Project, will take place during the Africa focused architecture Biennale in 2023. The project will include a Venice residency for a group of African based artists, followed by an exhibition at Ca’ Pesaro, Venice’s only Municipal Modern & Contemporary Art Museum.
All this would not have been possible without the amazing team backing me up. After 4 years supporting my hectic entrepreneurship, and taking it all with remarkable calm, Danielle Gorodenzik left us in order to prepare for her move, back to Los Angeles. I take this opportunity to thank her for her great work and wish her every success in her next steps up the echelons of the art world. She has left the place in order in the capable hands of our 2 new team members: Inbar Dekel in Content and Shay Ben-Amram in Logistics. My life partner, Laura Myara, continues to run the finances.
Our activity is not going unnoticed. In addition to lots of press in Israel, including by The Art Newspaper ̶ Israel Edition, on the international front Imo Dara featured me in a video interview in May, as did Ayanda Fine Art in their podcast series – The Frame. I was also invited by the Norval Foundation to once again nominate artists for the Sovereign Art Prize, and I’m 1 of 5 jurors for the 16th edition of the “Friend of the Artist” book publication.
As always, we’re open to dialogue and to new collaborative opportunities that serve our mission, so feel free to get in touch.
To view our latest additions, visit our Africa First collection page.
Wishing you a relaxing summer.