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8 truly inspirational African artists you should know

Contemporary art is a fast-growing field in Africa for young artists who want to make their voices heard. The following 8 artists use that voice to comment on social, economic, and political issues happening around them. Take a look at their art – do you recognize any pieces?

Aboudia – Cote d’Ivoire


Daloa 29 – 2014

Aboudia, born 1983 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, created this series of paintings based on his experience in 2011. He was forced to escape and take refuge in an underground studio following the Siege of Abidjan. This experience of isolation led to Daloa 29, a series that uses an almost childlike style to show not pacificity, but rather depicting the effects of conflicts on the surrounding society.

“The place of children in my work is very important, in that it is these children I love the most, who inspire me, and who are at the foundation of what I create. Our vision of the world is positive: of a world without war, without children on the streets, without children orphaned by war, without children mistreated, a world for children who are happy, joyful, educated and in good health.”

Nicene Kossentini – Tunisia

I saw the sky – 2009

Now living and working in Tunis, Kossentini was born in Sfax, Tunisia in 1976. Although she studied in France, she returned to Tunis as the Assistant Professor of Experimental Cinema at the University of Tunis, a position she still holds. A photographer and filmmaker, Kossentini addresses culture, origin, and truth within Tunisian society in her work and aims to make sure it is not lost in the modern day.

Matthew Hindley – South Africa


Diamond Diamond, Shinin’ Shinin’ – 2011

Cape Town artist Matthew Hindley was born in 1974 and had his first appearance as a solo artist in 2004. Since then he has come into his own in the digital medium and fills his work with commentary on everyday life, interested particularly in modern day celebrities and what happens to those who society once celebrated.

“I am surrounded by strong women in my life, each with their own unique damage, and unique ways of keeping their damage alive. Maybe I paint them, maybe I paint myself.”

Owusu-Ankomah – Ghana

Somehow different - 1992

Somehow different – 1992

Owusu-Ankomah, born 1956 in Sekondi-Takoradi, is a contemporary Ghanaian artist aiming to address themes of the body and identity. Renowned for his work throughout Europe, he now lives and works in Germany focusing his work on scientific, technological, metaphysical and spiritual facts and truths.

Bili Bidjocka – Cameroon


Ecriture Infinie collection – ongoing

Ecriture Infinie is an art project by Bili Bidjocka: eight giant-sized books made of blank, silent pages. A large writing desk, a lamp, a pen. One by one, people may approach the pages and leave their mark. They are invited to write as if it were the last time they could write by hand. The focus is not so much on the words, but on the gesture, the flow of the pen on paper, recorded on video. When each book is completed, it is sealed, wrapped, and hidden in a secret place, as in a time capsule. Will the people who will find the books in thousands of years be able to decipher it?”

See a live video of people leaving their mark here: http://www.ecritureinfinie.org/.

Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi – South Africa


Wrong Window – 2014

Born 1977 in Cape Town, South Africa, Ngqinambi never received any formal training as an artist, although he did study at the Community Arts Project for a year. His paintings focus on the challenges and extremes of modern life, particularly in war. The main question he asks is how humanity and cultures can prevail under morose conditions.

Koko Komégné – Cameroon

Labyrinthe - 1995

Labyrinthe – 1995

Koko Komégné was born in 1950 in Batoufam, Cameroon, where he sculpted his first piece at the age of ten. At fifteen he began painting and eventually opened a bar where he invited musicians to play and feel supported by the community. Komégné  mixes tcubism, surrealism, and tachism, adding a note of africanity to it in order to create his own style, “the optical diversion”.

Pascal Konan – Cote d’Ivoire

Quatre ombres sous la pluie - 2014

Quatre ombres sous la pluie – 2014

Konan was born in 1979 and following his education he not only continued his art but also became a teacher. His work demonstrates a conflict many artists attempt to capture, that is, the conflict between a childhood in the suburbs and the precariousness of an Africa struggling with urbanity. Through his art he is able to relay this idea and submerge the viewer in the noises, smells, and culture of the city.