Efiɛ Gallery launches at All Africa Festival, presenting a new platform to bridge contemporary African art with the Middle East

Efiɛ Gallery

The debut exhibition of Efiɛ Gallery will be presented at a dedicated arts pavilion
at the landmark 3-day All Africa Festival, set to take place in Burj Park,
Downtown Dubai by Emaar from 21-23 October 2021

Efiɛ Gallery, is a contemporary art gallery specialising in the promotion of African artists from within the continent and the diaspora, with a focus on West African art. The new gallery will represent both established and emerging African artists and support the sharing of their works in the Middle East, creating a platform for collaboration and exchange between the two regions.

Efiɛ Gallery’s debut exhibition co-curated by Kobi Mintah, Kwame Mintah and Afia Owusu-Afriyie, and taking place at a specially-designed Art Gallery at the Burj Plaza by Emaar, is grounded in the sentiment of celebrating connections – connecting tradition and legacy with forward thinking modernity in the new Africa.

Inspiration for the gallery designed by Ghanaian architect Alice Asafu-Adjaye, has been drawn from traditions, historic and cultural symbols, and environmental conditions that dictate the lifestyles and rich cultures of both Africa and the Middle East.

“Our inaugural exhibition literally and figuratively allude to the expression of connections in every facet, including the design of the Art Gallery itself, which is an ultra- modern abstraction of two independent yet connected spaces, celebrating the communal oneness of Africa whilst celebrating its diversity,” said Afia Owusu-Afriyie, Co-curator of Efiɛ Gallery. “It celebrates acclaimed and revered artists whilst providing a platform for those that are still emerging, illustrating the synergy between art as we

traditionally know it and art as an immersive experience of sound and visuals, all coexisting in the same space.”

Efiɛ Gallery
Slawn, “fin’s piece”, 2020 Spray paint and ink on canvas, 100 x 100 cm.

The first gallery space is dominated by a dedicated exhibition of four installations by internationally revered and multi-award winning Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, known for his large-scale sculptures, composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal. His famous iconic sculptures have been collected by more than 60 major international museums, globally recognised art galleries, auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, as well as corporate and individual art collectors. Sculptor, art scholar and mentor, Professor Anatsui has influenced and inspired a generation of artists and students nationally, continentally and globally. Speaking ahead of the exhibition’s launch, the acclaimed artist said: “It is a pleasure to be part of the inaugural exhibition of the Efiɛ Gallery, an important curatorial addition to the Middle East’s burgeoning arts landscape. After a period of stifled connection between us all, Efiɛ offers a timely and welcome bridge between cultures, continents and ages.”

Efiɛ Gallery
Yaw Owusu, Treasures of the Farthest land, 2021 US pennies, Ghana Pesewas, stainless steel on wood, 107 cm x 102 cm x 8 cm.

Other highlights of the exhibition include the work of Yaw Owusu who presents a new body of works which highlight the contribution of Africa on the global economy. The pieces reveal a new layer of histories of commodities, trade and exchange, and value, through the use of materials such as copper plated zinc pennies, copper plated steel pesewas, and stainless steel. Owusu was in 2018 the recipient of the Kuenyehia Trust for Contemporary Art – awarded to Africa’s most outstanding artists between the ages of 25 and 40. The prize is the flagship programme of the Kuenyehia Trust, established to promote and advance contemporary African art, whilst supporting young, emerging and mid-career African artists, and for which Ms Valentina Mintah is also a board member.

Kenyan sculptor and painter Maggie Otienno has harnessed the wood of 120 year old railway sleepers to create a series of figurative works in silent conversation. The figures depict conversations through ‘body’ language, and through the sounds that are absorbed in the environment and captured on solid objects. The sculptures celebrate the stories of origin, journeys near, far experiences and finally a place of transformation into creative and artistic pieces that give a narrative of beauty and resilience.

Isshaq Ismail (Ghana) is a multidisciplinary artist, and a product of Ghanatta College of Arts and Design. Shortlisted twice for the Kuenyehia Trust for Contemporary Art Prize, Ismail’s work investigates grotesque figures and textures in his paintings, exploring conversations on place and identity, and providing an intimate look at social, cultural and political realities of living in this dynamic 21st century.

Efiɛ Gallery
Black Nefertiti, 2020, 125 x125cm.

Speaking ahead of the inaugural exhibition, Co-founder and Co-curator of Efiɛ Gallery, Kwame Mintah, said: “In curating Efiɛ Gallery’s debut exhibition, Afia, Kobi and I wanted a wholistic celebration of African art, thus, encapsulating the symbiotic relationship between “old” and “new” African art/artists was key to our selection. This symbiosis can be seen in practice through the displayed works of El Anatsui and Yaw Owusu, two artists belonging to differing generations, who both repurpose found objects and in turn produce large-scale complex assemblages, each with distinctive visual impact and meaning. This wholistic celebration of African art also delves deeper than the visual arts, rather it encompasses the arts; this is evident through the selected photographers being showcased at the exhibition, who share in their passion of documenting the other mediums of art, whether that be the street fashion of Accra and Elmina or the biking culture on the streets of London.“

Efiɛ Gallery’s debut exhibition is presented in collaboration with Emaar, the donor collaborative Africa No Filter, alongside the Africa Centre in London, Nubuke Foundation in Accra, the Kuenyehia Trust for Contemporary Art and Claudia M gallery.

Nina Olatoke CEO/Co-Founder of the All Africa Festival said: “The debut exhibition of Efie Gallery marks a significant milestone for African art in the region. This will be one of the highest collections of African art at an event in the region. With world-renowned artists like El Anatsui, this promises to set the tone for future displays of African art in the region. With the support of our location partner, Emaar, we are proud to be a partner to Efie Gallery and are excited about this new chapter.”

The exhibition launches on the eve of the All Africa Festival with a private reception on 20 October 2021. Guests will be treated to a series of live performances by acclaimed Senegalese artist BouBou, who with each work reinvents his craft by using unconventional methods to create portraits. Upon arrival at the gallery, attendees of the exhibition will be met with a meticulously crafted playlist of African music, intent upon aiding their immersion into Efiɛ’s celebratory experience, to the extent of which, each song played could be understood as an exhibited piece of art.

Efiɛ Gallery’s debut exhibition will remain in situ and open to the public 1pm to 10pm daily at the Burj Plaza by Emaar beyond the festival, before moving to a more permanent home in Dubai.


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