Exhibition celebrates diversity in African art

The print titled “Fearless,” 2021, by Oluwole Omufemi (Nigeria). PHOTO/ Courtesy of the artist and OOA Gallery.

What you need to know:

  • The works on display from Carla and Pieter Schulting’s collection include paintings, sculptures and photographs by 154 artists from 33 African countries and the African diaspora

An extensive collection of 170 artworks is being showcased at the Kunsthal KAdE exhibition space in Amersfoort in the Netherlands. The exhibition of contemporary African art kicked off on September 24 and will run its course on January 7, 2024.  

The works on display from Carla and Pieter Schulting’s collection include paintings, sculptures and photographs by 154 artists from 33 African countries and the African diaspora. The collection gives a layered picture of how African artists reflect on their self-image and how their imagination radiates to the whole world.

The exhibition titled “Africa Supernova” presents a large cross-section of the collection, showing how diverse, complex and promising the artistic development of contemporary African art is. Regions like Southern Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Eastern Africa (Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia) and North Africa are strongly represented.  

With a focus on young artists, most of whom are in their 30s and a few in their early 20s, the exhibition is an anthology from an emerging art scene. Per Kunsthal KAdE, the anthology has gained an increasingly prominent place in the international art firmament in recent years.

“Together with Carla and Pieter Schulting, we are eyewitnesses to the blossoming of a group of artists who are taking the art world by storm in the wake of a number of—now—big names. The focus is on painters, along with a number of sculptors and a growing focus on photography,” Kunsthal KAdE noted in a statement.  
On view is a group of painters, sculptors and photographers with both an intense figurative imagery and a love for outright abstraction. They present Africa from within and do so with great self-awareness and a sense of how the black body has been treated for centuries. 

“Contemporary African artists—from this awareness—fold past, present and future together in their work,” writes Azu Nwagbogu (co-curator Buro Stedelijk, Amsterdam) in his contribution to the catalog, adding that “filling up a gap [read: wound] in representation that seems impossible to breach through the self-appropriation lent by figuration.” 

Nwagbogu hastens to clarify that “it” is not merely a political and aesthetic statement but rather “a matter of poise.” He defines “poise” as the conscious construction of a visual language in contemporary African art that dignifies its subjects regardless of context. 

“The Black body is coloured with presence and written over with symbols of magnification. It is an element that is not only seen but felt in the visual production of the works in the Schulting collection,” Nwagbogu said.  
In an interview for the catalog accompanying this exhibition, Carla and Pieter Schulting, a Dutch couple, talks about their collection and their motivation behind collecting African art. Pieter Schulting notes that “there is no such thing [as] African art”, especially since “an artist from Morocco can make a very different work than an artist from South Africa.” 

He added: “It’s a huge continent, of course, and we also want to show that there are these huge differences. I myself, since we started collecting African art, have also gained a different perspective on the continent. Discovering the artworks and meeting people from many different African countries has been very educational and inspiring.” 

Carla Schulting said the exhibition’s title—Africa Supernova—speaks to “how in recent years the art of the African continent has taken the global art world by storm, much like an explosion.”
She added of the title: “This title sums up very well that our collection cannot easily be categorised; it is so varied and diverse. We only show works that we love, that have touched our hearts. It is an explosion of creativity, and that is exactly what we want to show.” 

The title was coined by Nwagbogu, who will be curating the Benin pavilion for next year’s Venice Biennale. 
“We want this exhibition to provide an overview of the young artists who are now putting Africa on the global art map. We think when you look back in 20 years, this period will be a part of art history,” Pieter said.  

Participating artists 

From Eastern Africa
Sanaa Gateja (Uganda), Collin Sekajugo (Uganda), Sungi Mlengeya (Tanzania), Stacey Gillian Abe (Uganda), Richard Atugonza (Uganda), Matt Kayem (Uganda), Thandiwe Muriu (Kenya), Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Godwin Champs Namuyimba (Uganda), Serge Alain Nitegeka (Rwanda), Kaloki Nyamai (Kenya), Dawit L. Petros (Eritrea), Lubaina Himid (Zanzibar/UK), Nirit Takele (Ethiopia), Chéri Samba (Congo-Kinshasa), Ephrem Solomon (Ethiopia), Joël Andrianomearisoa (Madagascar), CATPC (Congo-Kinshasa), Kiripi Katembo (Congo-Kinshasa), Tegene Kunbi (Ethiopia), Zemba Luzamba (Congo-Kinshasa), Baudouin Mouanda (Congo-Brazzaville), Cinthia Sifa Mulanga (Congo-Kinshasa), and Chéri Samba (Congo-Kinshasa).
From other parts of Africa 
Kelani Abass (Nigeria), Adel Abdessemed (Algeria), Aboudia (Ivory Coast), Tyna Adebowale (Nigeria), Tunji Adeniyi-Jones (UK), Annan Affotey (Ghana), Amina Agueznay (Morocco), Boris Anje a.k.a. Anjel (Cameroon), Cornelius Annor (Ghana), Ajarb Bernard Ategwa (Cameroon), Carlos Blaaker (Surinam), Kwesi Botchway (Ghana), Armand Boua (Ivory Coast), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivory Coast), Richard Butler Bowdon (South Africa), Edson Chagas (Angola), Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe), Joana Choumali (Ivory Coast), Feni Chulumanco (South Africa), Soly Cissé (Senegal), Alioune Diagne (Senegal), Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco), Dan Halter (Zimbabwe), Fathi Hassan (Egypt), Miska Mohmmed (Sudan), Thebe Phetogo (Botswana), Aviwe Plaatjie (South Africa), César Schofield Cardoso (Cape Verde), Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Osvaldo Ferreira (Angola), and Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambique), among others.