1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is the most important art fair when it comes to promote African contemporary art. 1-54 London takes place in the prestigious Somerset House, in the heart of London, and showcases around 40 leading international galleries and over 130 artists. All forms of art are represented: photography, painting, sculpture and so on, in an exhibition that promotes dialogue and exchange. 1-54 London reflects the diversity and the cultural wealth of Africa, with a profusion of colors and materials. 1-54 runs two other fairs in 1-54 New York and 1-54 Marrakech.
Touria El Glaoui shares her views!
1-54 London 2022
London WC2R 1LA
13 October: 11am – 6pm
14-16 October: 10am – 7pm
General Admission: £25
Seniors & Disabled: £10
Children Under 12: Free
Insights 1-54 London
Touria El Glaoui
What would you say is the DNA of 1-54 London?
I wanted to give artists a platform for international visibility, so it was natural to choose a city that is known for being an international art hub. Both London and Paris have a strong connection to the continent, but I was living in London at the time so that also swayed me. Furthermore, the London Fair coincides with Frieze, which means the collector base in London is even larger and more international than it usually is, giving us a greater opportunity to engage with collectors.
What type of galleries are chosen to exhibit, and why?
1-54 works with a wide variety of galleries, so this really depends on who applies to our fair. Sometimes we work with emerging galleries, and other times we work with more established ones. However, we want to be a platform enabling younger and upcoming galleries from the continent and around the world to access the international art scene. To recall, our mission is to improve the representation of contemporary African Art in worldwide exhibitions. For this year’s edition, we would like to engage with galleries based in the neighbourhood, focusing on a programme that fosters a sense of community and connects with local partners.
What is the price range of pieces? Who is the average buyer?
The prices of pieces can range anywhere from $4,000 to upwards of $65,000. We’ve found that works valued in the $1,000 to $6,500 bracket in our first edition in London were valued in the $26,000 bracket back in 2019. Furthermore, several artists have seen an increase between 70-80%, such as Malian artists Aboulaye Konaté and Amadou Sanago and British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové. There is certainly a rising interest in contemporary art from Africa and its diasporas. In the past ten years, scores of commercial galleries are opening new outposts on both the African continent and Europe, new major museums are opening on the African continent, major international galleries are collaborating with artists from the continent, and leading auctions houses are establishing specialised departments in contemporary African art. Contemporary African art is thriving more than ever. Today, our collector base is very broad and diversified, from young buyers who are just starting off their collections to more established collectors.
“our mission is to improve the representation of contemporary African Art in worldwide exhibitions.”
Who is the typical attendee of 1-54 London?
1-54 has consistently been the space for globally spread, international individuals to socialise and exchange.The fair is attended by collectors, students, researchers, cultural and artistic practitioners, art enthusiasts, and even families. The main underlying theme that joins all our attendees is that they all have an interest in artistic practices from Africa and its diaspora.
What strategy – physical as digital – will you adopt in the short to medium term?
Our strategy is to focus on our physical fairs, which are the most anticipated social events in the yearly calendar and allow like-minded people to meet. We cannot wait to go back to the continent with 1-54 Marrakech, especially after the fair has been cancelled for two years in a row. We very much look forward to reuniting with the vibrant artistic community there. However, we will continue to strengthen and expand our presence online to be able to reach wider audiences. This year we are pursuing our partnership with Artsy, allowing collectors to browse works online for each edition. Furthermore, we are very active on our social media, producing studio visits with unique artists, interviews with key players in the industry, and insightful market research.
To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we recently rebranded the design of our logo, in collaboration with design studio, TM, as we wanted to emphasise togetherness, unity, and the pride that we have for our continent. 1-54 takes its name from the 54 countries that make up the continent, and we feel that our new logo not only draws attention to our role as a unifier of many things — people, countries, cultures, and art forms — but reflects our ongoing mission to promote contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.
What are two other art fairs you would suggest?
I would suggest Art Dubai and Art X Lagos.
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