I came over to London to do an MA at the Courtauld Institute. Soon after I started working for Timothy Taylor Gallery where I spent 3 years. In Feb 2010 I opened my own space with a particular interest in contemporary art from Sub-Saharan Africa.
I'd been following the CAAC Pigozzi Collection which was putting together a really lively bunch of work by African artists working across the continent. The painting, photography and sculpture seemed really vibrant. It engaged with its surroundings, was often political or social commentary. It reflected a part of the world that was changing shape at an incredible pace. All this was exciting and I couldn't wait to get over there.
The gallery is a kind of launch pad for artists I'm working with in Africa. Often they have never been shown outside of their local environment so it's always really encouraging when the contemporary art world here responds and embraces them. It's a great opportunity for some of these artists to be shown in an international context on the walls of the Saatchi Gallery for example. Working for the Timothy Taylor Gallery was a fantastic experience. It's a great program that crosses over both respected and established artists and emerging edgy ones. André Magnin, the Parisian dealer, has put together an amazing stable of artists and done a huge amount to put contemporary art from Africa on the map.
Hard to say - Dealers in New York like Jack Shainman have been on the case for a long time. The Studio Museum in Harlem likewise. But it does seem to be changing now and the heavy hitters in London like White Cube and Hauser & Wirth are picking up on African artists.
I think regardless of where these artists are from, they are good contemporary artists. The collectors and museum curators who have been very supportive tend to be from a background of contemporary art rather than any particular niche in African art.
The contemporary work from Africa is very interesting because there is a younger generation who are registering this period of immense change. They have a lot to say and the work is very current. At the same time, the art has ties to cultural heritage and traditions which make it very rich work. Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou is a good example.
I get over to Africa about every three months. I've spent most time on the ground in West Africa.
Sometimes - But more often I am dealing with art that seems relatively accessible in the contemporary market. The work is top notch quality, it has depth and packs a punch - yet young people in film, fashion, music or the art world etc can afford to collect it. I'm sure this won't always be the case.
I have come across a couple of artists who are making strong work as a result of war. Aboudia I found during the civil war early last year in Ivory Coast. His paintings were a direct response to the crisis that was erupting on his door step. His works will be included in the upcoming exhibition entitled Painters' Painters at Saatchi gallery, London. Gonçalo Mabunda is based in Maputo, Mozambique - He is making sculpture out of decommissioned arms from the civil war which tore apart is country until 1992. His pieces have been exhibited at the Pompidou, Paris, Hayward Gallery, London, and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.
Brazil. Can't wait to get over to Sao Paulo. Big scene for street artists among other things.
Anselm Kiefer at White Cube, Bermondsey.
Art fairs and publications — [ O ]