Two galleries from Africa, both founded in 2018, are making their debuts at Art Basel this year. Jahmek Contemporary Art from Luanda, Angola, and OH Gallery from Dakar, Senegal, appearing in the Statements sector, which is dedicated to emerging artists, are among the 19 galleries participating for the first time. At the 2021 edition of the Swiss fair, two galleries from Africa took part—Goodman Gallery and Stevenson.
“Participating in the most prestigious art fair in the world is a major victory for us, and a huge opportunity to communicate our artist’s work and our gallery programme to a wider audience,” says Mehak Vieira, the managing director of Jahmek Contemporary Art. The gallery is showing Helena Uambembe’s installation What You See Is Not What You Remember. “She will recreate the living room of her childhood home in Pomfret, South Africa, based on her memories. It will contain objects such as teacups, vases and prints on the wall using personal archival images,” says Vieira. The works are priced between €400 and €4,800.
OH Gallery is showing a painting and an installation by the Senegalese artist Aliou Diack evoking his childhood (prices are undisclosed). “His work is infinitely poetic, mysterious, [and] heady but also terrifying. The choice to present him at Art Basel was an obvious one for me,” says Océane Harati, the gallery director, who hopes to see “international collectors [at the fair] whose collections are not limited to one territory or continent”.
Research firm ArtTactic’s latest Modern & Contemporary African Artists market report, published in April, reflects this sector’s continued growth. Auction sales increased by 44% in 2021, from $50.2m in 2020 to $72.4m last year. West African artists saw the strongest growth at auction with total sales up 111% in 2021.