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5 Best African Painters

Apr 27, 2022 10:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian

Today we focus on Africa, scouring its cultural scene for the top African painters you should be aware of. African artists have taken on the task of defining, writing, or painting their own history and identity. An enthralling symbiosis of African culture, the implementation of indigenous media, symbols, and various issues encompassing economic disparity, shaky sovereignty, an uneasy transition to capitalism, a clash of tradition versus globalization, public health and racial conflicts, as well as the lingering effects of the colonial era, emerges. Let us go into the realm of artworks that have had a significant impact on the landscape of African culture.

Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu is a Kenyan artist known for her work that combines gender, race, art history, and personal identity. Mutu works in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, collage, cinema, installation, and, most notably, painting. Mutu rose to prominence for her collage paintings, which she created by blending ink and paint with images from fashion magazines, National Geographic, and historical pictures. Mutu creates lovely but strange female avatars out of these materials, subverting how Black and female bodies have been portrayed, marketed, and consumed. The characters symbolize the disconnected experience of managing transnational identity, modern Africa, and Western assumptions at the same time. Mutu earned a BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Arts and Sciences

Figure 1 - Portrait of Wangechi Mutu. Source - Google

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a Nigerian-American painter based in Los Angeles, was born in Enugu, Nigeria, in 1983. Crosby came to the United States of America in 1999, but her cultural identity is highly determined by her natal country, resulting in a so-called hybrid identity that is an important component of her artistic output. Njideka Akunyili Crosby gets her ideas from art history, politics, and personal experiences. Her expressive paintings evoke the complexities of our modern lives and experience. Interiors, daily life, and social events are recurring topics in her significant corpus of work. The artist, on the other hand, makes a series of visual interventions by incorporating a lively impact of patterns and photo collages taken from Nigerian culture, popular culture, or communal memory.

Figure 2 - Portrait of Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Source - Google

Read about art museums in Africa:
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Barthélémy Toguo

Toguo, born in 1967 in Mbalmayo, Cameroon, is a modern artist who divides his time between Bandjoun, Cameroon, and Paris, France. Barthélémy Toguo uses painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation to explore long-standing and current concerns of borders, exile, and displacement. The sense of belonging, which originates from his mixed French/Cameroonian identity, lies at the heart of his work. Toguo emphasizes issues with both ecological and socio-economic ramifications via lyrical, optimistic, and frequently figural gestures linking nature with the human body. In his home Cameroon, he launched Bandjoun Station in 2008 to promote modern art and culture in the local community. An exhibition space, a library, an artist residence, and an organic garden are all part of the community center.

Figure 3 - Portrait of Barthélémy Toguo. Source - Google

Amoako Boafo

Amoako Boafo, also known as Thomas Amoako Boafo, is a Ghanaian painter and visual artist. He studied at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra and afterward at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in Austria. Amoako Boafo's radiant portraits create and maintain room for Black pleasure, subjectivity, and self-determination. The artist emphasizes his characters' intricacy with his own gentle touch; he paints their distinct gazes, stances, and clothing with his fingertips. In 2019, Boafo was an artist in residence at the Rubell Museum. He was recognized in The Artsy Vanguard 2020 and the Artsy Editorial Essay "The Most Influential Artists of 2020" the following year.

Figure 4 - Portrait of Amoako Boafo. Source - Google

Misheck Masamvu

Misheck Masamvu was born in the Zimbabwean town of Penhalonga. Masamvu trained at Atelier Delta and Kunste Akademie in Munich, where he specialized in the realism style before evolving into a more avant-garde expressionist way of representation using dramatic and graphic brushstrokes. Misheck Masamvu's brightly colored paintings combine abstraction with figuration, and they are a forceful statement of the artist's feelings about the political and socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe. Masamvu's paintings, which convey a tangible feeling of discomfort, blend the combined influences of German Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism with the expressive brushwork of Abstract Expressionism. Masamvu is most known for his paintings, although he also does sculptures and works on paper. He has recently highlighted the injustices that exist within the art business in his work.

Figure 5 - Portrait of Misheck Masamvu. Source - Google


Read about other artists:

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 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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