1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair: Advisory Selections
Advisory Perspective

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair: Advisory Selections

By Annabel Downes | New York, 12 May 2022

Following the initial rounds of spring auctions and fairs, including Independent and TEFAF, New York sees the arrival of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair alongside Frieze next week.

The former brings together 25 galleries from across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East with works by artists from Africa and its diaspora. Taking place at Harlem Parish, we've selected stand-out works from the fair.


Johanna Mirabel, Living Room n°19 (2022). 213 x 147 cm. Oil on canvas.

Johanna Mirabel, Living Room n°19 (2022). 213 x 147 cm. Oil on canvas. Courtesy Galerie Véronique Rieffel. Photo: Galerie Véronique Rieffel.

Johanna Mirabel at Galerie Véronique Rieffel

Since graduating from Paris's École des Beaux-Arts in 2019, Johanna Mirabel has channelled her Guyuanese and Carribean heritage into the development of her rich chromatic practice.

Exploring interior spaces, Mirabel merges the figurative and the abstract in a bid to highlight the complexity of a multicultural life. Rich colours, dominated by red and ochre tones, hint to the tradition of Tembé—a form of abstract art typically found in Guyana.

Mirabel's potential was spotted early, having been nominated twice for the highly regarded Sisley-Beaux Arts Paris Prize.


Dindga McCannon, Charlie Parker and Many of the Musicians He Influenced, Painting from 1970s (2010). Mixed media quilt. 137.16 x 111.76 cm.

Dindga McCannon, Charlie Parker and Many of the Musicians He Influenced, Painting from 1970s (2010). Mixed media quilt. 137.16 x 111.76 cm. Courtesy Fridman Gallery.

Dindga McCannon at Fridman Gallery

Fridman Gallery will stage a solo presentation of mixed-media quilt works and acrylic on canvas paintings by self-taught artist, Dindga McCannon.

Born and raised in Harlem, McCannon was a forerunner of textile assemblage in 1970s New York. Coming of age during the rise of feminist art in the city, and the civil rights movement on a broader scale, McCannon was a key member of the Black Arts Movement and the Weusi Artist Collective.

Heralded for co-founding Where We At Black Women Artists, Inc.—a New York-based collective formed in response to absence of racial articulation within the feminist art movement—McCannon's practice served to honour and memorialise the Black women.

Today, McCannon's work can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Michigan State University, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others.


Johnson Ocheja, Lovers Hangout (2022). Acrylic and oil on canvas. 152.4 x 132.08 cm.

Johnson Ocheja, Lovers Hangout (2022). Acrylic and oil on canvas. 152.4 x 132.08 cm. Courtesy Jason Shin.

Johnson Ocheja at Jason Shin

Jason Shin will stage a solo presentation of works by Johnson Ocheja, a self-taught artist from Kogi State, Nigeria.

The young artist will be presenting four acrylic and oil on canvas works in the Seoul-based gallery's presentation for 1-54, having made his auction debut this year at Phillips' HIRÆTH virtual selling auction in March.

Ocheja's striking frames use a thick impasto technique, achieved through the application of paint with his fingers that seeks to allude to the cultural practice of scarification traditionally carried out among ethnic groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Audrey Lyall, The Skeptic (2020). Acrylic paint, fabric, collaged paper, cotton thread, oil pastel, rhinestone, ink, watercolour on canvas. 101.6 x 76.2 cm.

Audrey Lyall, The Skeptic (2020). Acrylic paint, fabric, collaged paper, cotton thread, oil pastel, rhinestone, ink, watercolour on canvas. 101.6 x 76.2 cm. Courtesy Superposition Gallery.

Audrey Lyall at Superposition Gallery

Born and raised in California, multimedia artist Audrey Lyall has developed her Afrofuturist practice on the East Coast, attending Pratt Institute in New York for her BA, where she has now settled.

Working with a variety of materials—including acrylic paint, mixed media, and found objects—Lyall's works seek to navigate the ambiguity and inbetweenness she felt growing up in a mixed-race family in a white Californian town.

For Lyall, the process of painting provides her with a means to articulate this duality, while channelling the visual idioms of her all-time favourites such as David Hammons, Faith Ringgold, and Janiva Ellis.


WonderBuhle, We no longer gonna run (2021–2022). Acrylic and metallic paint. 223 x 331 cm.

WonderBuhle, We no longer gonna run (2021–2022). Acrylic and metallic paint. 223 x 331 cm. Courtesy BKhz Gallery.

Wonder Buhle Mbambo at BKhz Gallery

Wonder Buhle Mbambo is a visual artist from kwaNgcolosi, a rural South African village 40 kilometres from Durban.

Formally trained at the BAT Centre, a visual arts residency programme in Durban, Mbambo's oeuvre can be distinguished by the overlay of flower-shaped patterns repeating themselves across his figures and backdrops.

Mbambo's 2021 work Sikhuliswe kahle is up for sale at Phillips' 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale in New York next week with a presale high estimate of $30,000.

Main image: Johanna Mirabel, Living Room n°19 (2022). 213 x 147 cm. Oil on canvas. Courtesy Galerie Véronique Rieffel. Photo: Galerie Véronique Rieffel.

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