Excerpts of interview with Forbes magazine.

Q: What goes into the curation of the galleries/artists at 1-54?

For every edition, galleries are asked to submit a proposal. 

This proposal is looked at by a selection committee that reviews the design, curatorial foundations and gallery intent. 

Our values and mission for visibility are closely tied to our decision to work with a gallery. 

Because we are working with artists from historically marginalized areas of the world, it is important to us that galleries we work with recognize this, are working to confront archaic and reductive notions of an “African esthetic” and are responsive to present conditions and the locality of the fair.

UNTITLED: Mohamed Kacimi, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 81 cm. Courtesy SoArt Gallery.

Q: How much sales has the fair generated when it was first launched in 2013 compared to today? In light of the very nature of 1-54 – boutique size with a focus on contemporary African artists – do you witness serious collecting at your show, rather than buying just for investment purposes?

Since 2013, the number of sales has risen, and we have seen prices for works rise. 

Our smaller size allows us to have a close relationship with all our galleries and artists and ensure that we can be adaptable to their needs year after year. 

It’s very important that collectors do not buy for investment, but rather engage with a work and build relationships with artists and galleries. 

Our smaller size allows collectors to also take their time at each booth.

 We also try to encourage engagement as much as possible in our approach by placing emphasis on discussion and knowledge exchange through our fair tours and 1-54 Forum, for example, which is a public program of panels, artist talks, performances and screenings.

WITHIN MY REALITY: Felix Awotwi; acrylic, ropes on canvas; 60 × 72 ins, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

 Who are the biggest buyers of contemporary African art today, and what kinds of collectors are you targeting in particular at 1-54?

It is incredibly diverse, which makes sense considering how diverse contemporary creativity on the continent is and how varied the different cultural scenes are. 

Unlike most art markets, collectors come from no clear age group, but increasingly we are seeing younger collectors. 

This is primarily because there are still multiple price points at which to enter the market. 

Likewise, major collectors come from around the world and across the continent. 

This diversity is healthy for Africa’s contemporary art scenes and the markets, as there is no reliance on or pressure by a single demographic, therefore discouraging purchasing trends and targeted price brackets.

OFF WHITE TWIN DRUMMER: Samson Kambalu: Bubblegum Flag Series, Courtesy of the artist and Kate MacGarry Gallery

Q: Which categories of contemporary African art are registering the most interest from collectors?

The diversity in work from across the continent means that there are no clear categories or themes.

 Of course, there are connections that could be made between artists due to shared realities, such as particularly abundant materials, historical socio-political events, popular culture and traditions that may influence process or thematic choices. 

But we need to discourage the viewing of work within themes or categories, as it imposes limitations that often play into preconceptions and stereotypes that artists from Africa have long been subject to.

******* The full interview can be read here; https://www.forbes.com/sites/yjeanmundelsalle/2022/04/01/1-54-contemporary-african-art-fair-returns-to-christies-in-paris/?sh=4030feaf3ba7

1 – 54 Art fair APRIL 2022.

PUBLIC DATES – Saturday 9 April 2022 10:00-20:00; Sunday 10 April, 10:00-20:00

LOCATION; Christie’s Paris; 9 Avenue Matignon; 75008 Paris, France.

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