Operating on multiple continents is a common strategy for global art fairs, but in the case of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, an international approach is essential to drawing a full picture of African art from the continent and its diaspora. The fair’s New York edition (18-21 May) will be its largest since founder Touria El Glaoui expanded her London-born project across the Atlantic in 2015. This year’s edition takes over Malt House in Harlem’s Manhattanville Factory District, a space that formerly housed Gavin Brown’s Enterprise.
“The beauty of running three fairs in three different continents is it allows us to build a strong network among our galleries,” El Glaoui says. “We’ve built a certain loyalty in development in young galleries.”
The Côte d’Ivoire-based LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery, for instance, is making its New York debut. Its stand features Ange Dakouo’s Mindset #1 (2022), a large, mixed-media tapestry, as well as an absorbing, colourful cityscape by Ablade Glover.
Among the returning exhibitors is the Lower East Side’s Fridman Gallery, whose stand features a dual presentation of abstract paintings by the Surinamese-Dutch artist Remy Jungerman next to Ethiopian-Israeli artist Tigist Yosef Ron’s charcoal drawings that recall family photographs. “Our presentation is indicative of the global reach of the African diaspora and the wide variety of materials employed by artists with roots on the continent,” says gallery founder Iliya Fridman.
The fair has also expanded its offering with a concurrent group exhibition in Chelsea, Sparkling Islands, Another Postcard of the Caribbean (until 20 May), which brings together works by 13 contemporary artists with Caribbean roots in celebration of the region’s cultural impact.