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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ismaila Manga: myths, signs and symbols

Ismaila Manga is one of Senegal’s most interesting artists. He graduated from Senegal’s Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1982 and later spent thirteen years in Montreal where he attended Ecole international du design de Montréal before returning to Africa determined to rediscover his own continent. His work features in collections both public and private, in Senegal, Europe, the United States, Canada and South America.

http://edcrossfineart.com/artists/ismaila-manga/
Savanne | Pencil and mixed media on canvas | 142 x 245cm

“Every image fights with death, containing the memory of what has gone, starting with the ancestors,” explains Ismaila. “On the other hand any denial of death weakens the vitality of our mental life. Myths, signs and symbols allow me to establish what seems to me to be the essence of our humanity: the temporal.”
“I use the passing of days and nights to mark on canvas the imprint of time, letting the latter do its own work, materializing in rust obtained by the oxidation of metals. The photos I use in my work are just memories which I project on to the canvas, marked by time and drawn with a lead pencil, the simplest of materials that an artist can use.”
For enquiries about Ismaila Manga’s work please contact:
Ed Cross ed@edcrossfineart.com +44 (0) 7507067567

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nathalie Bikoro and the language of history

Nathalie Anguezomo Menier Mba Bikoro is a French-Gabonese interdisciplinary artist working with visual arts & live art performance.
With an education in Politics, Philosophy and Media Arts, Bikoro left France and the UK to return to Gabon to set out her work as an artist.
Leaving Mum II, 2011, 10.5 x 14.5cm
Part of exhibition "The Middle Passage, Alice in Wonderland" at Tiwani Contemporary, London, 2012

Her 10 year battle with leukaemia during childhood in Gabon, the Netherlands and France has influenced the narrative and methods in which she chooses to create her work. This personal struggle for recovery and return back to her family has pushed her visual language as well as setting goals to develop independent creative initiatives in the arts and culture lead by local people. Her aims and objectives are to incorporate converging arts and sciences into her own practice and research towards developing a Cancer Recovery Arts Centre. She aims to do this by incorporating creative spaces for interaction for children and adults in Libreville, Lambarene & Bitam (Gabon) and by developing educational collaborative community projects lead by local people.

Into The Looking Glass, 2011, Photo-etching; black ink on ivory paper, 9.3 x 10.5cm
Mba Bikoro uses the vocabulary of various art forms to make works that function to create fractured narratives and blurs boundaries between meaning, experience and aesthetics. Her alternative live art performances are unique interpretations of historical mythology and challenging appropriations of a knowledge far from ordinary. In doing so she highlights, accentuates and magnifies elements of the relationships present within these spaces.
Her practice proposes a composition of sound, body movement, archaeology and digital performance and encourages interactive response. Her approach responds to people and spaces mediating a great awareness of combining politics and philosophy.
For enquiries about Nathalie Bikoro’s work please contact:
Ed Cross ed@edcrossfineart.com +44 (0) 7507067567


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kimathi Donkor - a figurative master

Kimathi Donkor is a British artist living and working in London whose large, figurative oil paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the UK and internationally.


Oshun visits Gaba at Tate’s ‘Big House’ | Oil on Linen | 170 x 140cm | 2013

Hailing from a family with roots in Ghana, Jamaica, England, Zambia and Poland, Donkor’s meticulously crafted compositions draw on the traditions of portraiture and historical painting. Yet the themes of his work address dramatic modern subjects – ranging from urban conflict in contemporary London to the adventures of Ghana’s anti-colonial heroine, Yaa Asantewaa. Sitters are often friends or family, which, he believes, imparts a degree of intimacy to the monumentality of his figures.
Donkor is a master painter in a digital age, but his work is anything but anachronistic. It is steeped in historical, contemporary and art history references that inform, entertain and challenge the viewer. His paintings are both beautiful works of art and complex political/historical conundrums, arising out of his own heritage and at times challenging personal journey and his astute study of history and art history.
Notebook II | Watercolour and pencil on paper | 32 x 24cm | 2013

In 2012, Donkor was commissioned by Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) to produce new paintings for his acclaimed Queens of The Undead solo show at Rivington Place, London. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Derek Hill painting award for the British School at Rome, which included a three-month residency in Italy, studying the work of the Baroque master, Caravaggio.
In 2010, the artist's paintings were exhibited at the 29th São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. His Caribbean Passion paintings are currently on long-term display at the Usher Gallery museum in Lincoln. From 2009 to 2011, Donkor collaborated with the artists Raksha Patel and Eleni Zagkali alongside a group of young Londoners to create artworks for the Seeing Through participatory project at Tate Britain.
Writing about the artist’s work has appeared in Frieze.com, Studio International, The Guardian and Visual Culture in Britain amongst many other journals.
Kimathi Donkor has been has been the recipient of two full-time painting bursaries from the Arts & Humanities Research Council. He gained his Master’s degree in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts (2010) and his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College (1987). He is currently completing a doctorate in painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design.
For enquiries about Kimathi Donkor’s work please contact:
Ed Cross ed@edcrossfineart.com +44 (0) 7507067567

Ed Cross interview: African art and developments in the online market


Mamady Seydi | Les Cyclistes | 2012 | mixed media sculpture
Ed Cross was recently interviewed by Richard Mudariki for Omeka Magazine. He and Richard discussed Ed’s introduction to African art and his time spent in Africa as a sculptor. Ed shares his thoughts on the current state of the market and how selling African art online is growing in popularity and profitability.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The tipping point for contemporary African art?

Mario Macilau - girl with doll
Mário Macilau | Photo of Girl with Doll
Ed Cross was recently interviewed by Rachel Hamada for This is Africa about the contemporary African art market and art scene. Ed believes that the market has reached a tipping point, and that it is now getting the attention it deserves.
What does this increasing interest in contemporary African art mean for the artists involved? Is the term ‘African’ being painted with too broad a brush? Ed offers his opinions into these issues in this insightful article.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Joseph Bertiers and "The True Lier"


The True Lier  | Joseph Bertiers | 2013 | Oil on canvas | 90 x 100cm 
When I  first visited Joseph Bertiers in Nairobi we had met by the main Dagoretti  road and drove together towards his house – I had no idea what to expect and was greeted by a walled compound with a large smart looking gate – we paused outside  as Bertiers gestured to what look like an “askari” (a guard) just visible inside.  The guard  turned out to be one of Bertiers’ many life-sized scrap metal sculptures that adorn his garden. This was the first of many jokes. Even his name is a joke. He renamed himself Bertiers from the original Mbatia to see if having a European name would  boost his art sales – it did apparently – though that was in another era. Perhaps he should change it back?  But that wouldn’t be funny – so he wont.
The painting you see here is a rollocking expose of a type of corrupt and venal pastor that plagues the African continent and many other parts of the globe. This painting was inspired by revelations about the Fire Gospel Ministry in Kenya where a pastor had been caught paying women to fake illness so that they could be miraculously cured. Bertiers depicts the realities of sexual harassment and the sheer lies and  hypocrisy peddled by these “true liers”.
In the words of the artist:
The time has come for people to realize that they are
conned, cheated and given no spiritual healing at all.  Although they take their  time, these people who pretend to be spiritually superior to their congregations enrich themselves through the poor exploiting the fact that  religion is the opium of the people,  as Karl Marx the philosopher said.
Bertiers is an increasingly successful and acclaimed artist. His work was recently featured in the Financial Times and his work  is in several major collections in Europe and the U.S.A..

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mário Macilau and the Price of Cement


The Price of Cement is a series of photographs by the young and acclaimed Mozambican photographer Mário Macilau. The works  show the tragic reality of  young boys and girls who work in illegal cement bagging operations in Mozambique in darkened buildings, hidden from view, recycling/cutting cement from cement spillages with disastrous consequences for their health. The images that ironically and intuitively reference the world of mime and fashion speak devastatingly for  themselves. The empowerment of his subjects to tell their stories with dignity is central to Macilau’s important work. 
                                                                Untitled (The Price of Cement) 5 C-Print 2013 Editions of 6 

Mário Macilau

B.1984 in  Maputo, Mozambique  where he lives and works 
Mário Macilau was born in the newly independent Mozambique, in the midst of the most critical phase of its civil war. His family struggled financially and moved from the Inhambane province to the capital, Maputo, in search of a better life. When he was 10 years old he began to work in a small market frequented by the middle / upper class where he became a street child, washing cars in the car park and helping to carry the groceries in an effort to support his family.
Macilau started his journey as photographer in 2003 and went  professional  when he traded his mother’s cell phone for his first camera in 2007, he specializes in long-term projects that focus on living and environmental conditions. As a documentary photographer he is committed to initiating positive change across different cultures, locations and perspectives, in his home country he uses his work to confront the reality  of power, environment and cultural heritage that affect  socially isolated groups and issues that define our times.
Macilau  shows his work regularly in national and international exhibitions  and recently he has been included at the Pan African group exhibition during the Biennale of African Photography in Bamako 2011 where he won the Crossing Point residency  in France at Les Rencontres D'arles in 2012 from Fondation Blachère. He was a finalist for the  7th edition of BESphoto 2011 in Portugal where his work has been shown at CCB - Centro Cultural de Belém. In Brazil he has exhibited at Pinacoteca de Estado de Sao Paulo. In 2011, he exhibited at VI Chobi Mela Photo Festival in Bangladesh 2011, the Photo Spring in Beijing, China 2011, Lagos Photo I and II in Nigeria, The KLM in Malasya among others. 
Macilau has won many national and international  awards including  the Young ACP Photographer’s Competition in 2010, the Visa Pour La Creation 2012 from the French Institute, The first prize from the Protection Project in Washington DC 2012, the EVTZ Foundation prize in Germany, the Santa Lucia Award in Spain 2011, the AECID Award for creation in 2011, he won the talent prize from France Embassy in Maputo in 2011, the TDM Bienal in Maputo ... Mário Macilau regularly attends the Annual Photography Master Class  in Africa organized by Goethe Institute, Johannesburg.
Mário Macilau was recently featured on Al Jazeera’s Artscape programme in May 2013 
For enquiries about Mario Macilau’s work please contact: 
Ed Cross ed@edcrossfineart.com +44 (0) 7507067567