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Top 5 Black Contemporary Artists Who Are Making a Cultural Difference in 2022

Jun 17, 2022 08:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian
abstract landscape organic shapes soft colors

Art preserves a culture's and society's standards, but it may also question our assumptions and impressions of how the world works. There has been a significant change in the art industry in recent years, and our 2022 list of Black Up and Coming artists reflect that transition. These artists work in various genres and forms, including digital illustration and video art, photography, paintings, and mixed media. Many Black artists define modern Black art by putting Blackness at the center of their work to comment on or deconstruct tired myths about race, color, and social injustice. So we've chosen to shine a light on five 2022 contemporary artists who use art to magnify and honor Black lives and experiences and are motivated to broaden the breadth of invisible art and bring it to the forefront.

David Gumbs 

David Gumbs is a Saint-Martin-based award-winning multidisciplinary artist. David's art explores the concepts of identity and belonging in a post-colonial Caribbean environment.

In 2001, he graduated from the Fort-de-France Visual Arts School in Martinique, and in 2002, he studied Interactive Multimedia Conception at Les Ateliers, L'ENSCI in Paris. Gumbs' drawings, video, and interactive work have been shown globally at Paris City Hall, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, the Museum of Latin American Art in Los Angeles, and the Davidoff Art Initiative Artist in Residence in Beijing, China. David's new media works range from colorful interactive and immersive video displays to audio-reactive compositions that push the frontiers of art and culture via technology.

Figure 1 - David Gumbs' work. Source - Google

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Mamus Esiebo 

Mamus Esiebo is a self-taught Nigerian visual artist. He had attended City Unity College. His work focuses on the lives of ordinary people, addressing issues such as self-identification in a society dominated by media and politics, family difficulties, and overwork. Mamus deconstructs his colorful experiences in Lagos, Nigeria, where he converts the lack of work-life balance, familial expectations, and the desire for self-identity into a beautiful environment. His themes are set in situations that portray a harmony of vital force. His trademark pinstripe and bright colors are used to show apparel on his figures and the surfaces of items placed in the scene. He catches the stare exchanged between lovers just before the start of a romantic holiday when excitement and adrenaline are at an all-time high. He also investigates the serenity of swimming in a public pool with no strangers, just a familiar face and a drink in hand. Mamus also explores the intricacies of relationships in our secure area.

Figure 2 - Mamus Esiebo’s work. Source - Google

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Uzor Ugoala

Uzor Ugoala is a self-taught Nigerian conceptual photographer who makes aesthetically engaging and contemplative photos that investigate the human psyche in connection to the complexities of our lives, recognizing self-governing patterns that may be perpetuated by culture and society. He seeks to induce contemplation in the spectator via his work by combining purposefully designed pieces comprised of hand-fabricated props and a generalized style of subdued colors that whisper halt and reflect. He sees conceptual photography as an intriguing kind of soul-searching, drawing inspiration from downtempo trance music, nature, sculpture, surreal paintings and images, introspection, real-life events, psychological books, and conceptual animation.

Figure 3 - Uzor Ugoala’s work. Source - Google

Linda Dounia

Linda Dounia is a multidisciplinary designer, writer, and mixed-media artist from Lebanon. She was born and reared in Dakar and currently divides her time between Ghana, Senegal, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She imagines and conceives potential futures through science-fiction and speculative design, exploring how indigenous knowledge systems can inform post-colonial technology and innovation. She is inspired by the possibilities offered by design and technology in representing and empowering people of all backgrounds, identities, and walks of life.

Figure 4 - Linda Dounia’s work. Source - Google

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Michael Armitage

Michael Armitage is a Kenyan-born artist living and working in Nairobi and London. He attended the Slade and Royal Academy Schools. His vibrant, dreamy paintings are full of intriguing ideas that play with visual narratives and question cultural preconceptions while delving into politics, history, civil unrest, and sexuality. Many of his large-scale paintings, created using Lubugo bark fabric, a culturally significant material produced of tree bark by the Baganda people of Uganda, draws on current events and combine them with Western painting ideas. Michale featured his art in the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. He held three solo exhibitions of his work last year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, and the Royal Academy in London.

Figure 5 - Michael Armitage’s work. Source - Google

 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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