Lacey Contemporary Gallery is pleased to announce African Routes open from 20th January to 6th February 2016. Nine artists have been selected to show works that contribute to the personal, physical, and philosophical journey of artists from Africa. The exhibition aims to prompt a discussion about the voyage undertaken by African artists creating work for a global market place, both in terms of their art and as individuals. As part of this three week exhibition, Lacey Contemporary will also be hosting a discussion forum, chaired by members of the B.B.F.A collective (British Black Female Artists) focusing on the experience and practices of its members.

Capturing the diversity of talent being generated by contemporary African artists working in Africa and internationally, African Routes will include works by Zimbabwean artist Tafadzwa Gwetai who was selected as assistant curator at the Zimbabwe Pavilion during the La Biennale di Venezia 56th International Art Exhibition; Lennie Lee a highly respected South African performance and visual artist who has exhibited at a number of UK institutions including the Barbican Art Centre, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Tate Gallery; and several works from members of the collective Nigerian Art Society UK.

The development of African art market has caused a natural shift in the careers of many African artists from a local to international platforms. An increase in funding and residencies for African artists in Europe and America has meant many African artists are choosing to develop their practices outside of Africa. African Routes is an exploration into the current and future landscape of the African art market. We have chosen artists whose careers each contribute a different and unique perspective of the current African art market.

Tafadzwa Gwetai an award winning artist and curator from Zimbabwe created the series of works on show, during a five month period as assistant curator at the Zimbabwe pavilion, Venice Biennale. In an interview pre-Biennale he described his attitude to the Biennale “It (the biennale) is a big meeting and people from all over the world will be there. I will get the opportunity to share both ideas on art and culture and I am certain, I will get various insights into works from other artistes. Linking with art practitioners from other countries will open up a whole new world to me.”

Lennie Lee is a South African who has been a UK resident for many years. Well known in the UK, he has also had a successful career as a performance artist in China. His work centres on how despite the evolution of modern society, humans can not help but echo the lifestyles, beliefs, and rituals of primitive societies. Toni Ndikanwu, Chike Azuonye, Hassan Aliyu and Raymond Soko are all members of the collective Nigerian Society of Art UK an organisation that represent the professional interests of Nigerian artists in the Diaspora. Although most of the society’s members received formal art training from Nigeria’s leading art institutions, many have relocated abroad to further their professional art practice.

Mandy Coppes-Martin is a South African visual artist, working primarily with paper and pulp using fibres such as hemp, sisal, cotton rag and silk. Silk symbolizes the opening up of trade routes and the development of many civilizations through cross border relationships. Although based in South Africa, a study visit to Japan provided a framework for an alternative method of making paper using long fibres found in South Africa, which has been integral to the development of her work.

Enam Gbewonyo is a Multimedia Textile Artist who merges textile and surface pattern techniques with traditional painting practises. Her formative years were spent both in England and her ancestral home Ghana. These cultural influences are clearly evident in her colour rich work. Enam has recently established the B.B.F.A, a collective which acts as a sounding board and platform for British Black Female Artists. Lacey Contemporary will be supporting the B.B.F.A by hosting an evening of discussion on Wednesday 27 th January 6-9pm from B.B.F.A members and prominent female creative’s and professionals.

Discussion will centre on experiences of B.B.F.A members with a particular focus on their personal journeys and the influence of African heritage on their artistic practice. African Routes at Lacey Contemporary will include paintings, textiles, sculpture and works on paper. African Routes is the first exhibition of the year in an ongoing program at Lacey Contemporary Gallery which focuses on African artists. Lacey Contemporary Gallery endeavors to support the growth of the African art market by provide a platform in London for emerging and established talent through engaging and thought-provoking exhibitions.