6 Exciting African Artists to Watch in 2022
In the post-war era, decolonization of African nations resulted in a period of significant upheaval and change, creating a perfect socio-political storm for contemporary African art to flourish. Since the dawn of the 21st century, African artists have been making waves in the global contemporary art scene. This article explores the lives and works of six celebrated artists from the African continent.
1. Basim Magdy
Born in Assiut, Egypt in 1977, this contemporary artist divides his time between Cairo and Basel, Switzerland today, drawing and painting, and creating sculptures, video, and installation art. Magdy’s dreamlike paintings combine the familiar with the absurd, fusing vivid colors with a surreal, almost aggressive quality.
Basim Magdy started his career creating colorful, futuristic paintings and works on paper, before moving on to photography and experimenting with analog film in the 2010s. His works center around memory, the unconscious, utopia, and the human condition. In 2014, Magdy’s short film The Dent won the Abraaj Group Art Prize at Art Dubai. Magdy’s work has been shown by numerous prestigious art houses, including the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum.
2. Azuka Muoh
Born in Lagos, Nigeria in 2000, Azuka Muoh is a film director and contemporary artist. Muoh’s work has earned her international recognition as one of Africa’s most interesting, thought-provoking artists, her millennial status providing a sharp lens through which to observe the world.
Azuka Muoh’s work offers reflection and critique on life as a young Nigerian woman; providing a commentary on a deeply complex society that embraces artistic development while simultaneously prioritizing traditional familial and cultural expectations. Azuka Muoh is renowned for her surrealist, hyperbolized reflections of personal experience and societal constraints, incorporating nuances of Afrofuturism, a sci-fi-inspired African diaspora art movement that emerged in the 1990s.
Muoh sees herself as a conduit for the marginalized and oppressed. Political reflection, patriarchal oppression, and the human condition are all examined in her intense reflections, in which she challenges long-held societal norms in a country where tradition has reigned for centuries.
3. Christian King Dusabe
Based in Kigali, Rwanda, Christian King Dusabe is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who uses art as a channel to communicate his ideas rebelliously, producing pen drawings and paintings that focus on nature, as well as depicting scenes from everyday life.
Christian King Dusabe started painting at the tender age of 5. With a passion for drawing but no formal training, he sought out imaginative ways of developing his skills, copying artwork from books, comics, and anything else he could lay his hands on.
After graduating from Rwanda’s Ecole d’art de Nyundo, Dusabe studied digital media production. Speaking with Rwanda’s The New Times, the artist explained that he found art gave him the confidence to communicate ideas and provoke dialogue. Today, Dusabe’s figurative portraitures are exhibited internationally, as well as in virtual galleries.
4. Mamus Esiebo
Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Mamus Esiebo is a self-taught visual arts whose digital illustrations reflect on the simple things in life. Esiebo describes his style as post-pop, centering around the notion of reimagining Africa through the use of provocative, progressive, positive imagery and narratives, forging dialogue where tradition meets innovation.
Mamus Esiebo deconstructs his colorful experiences of life in Nigeria’s capital city, transforming the lack of work-life balance, pursuit of self-identification, and family expectations into idyllic settings, his works depicting a careful balance of vital energy. Esiebo’s vivid scenes combine his signature bold colors and use of pin stripe, capturing the gaze between lovers, and exploring the minutiae of intimate interactions in a safe space.
5. Amoako Boafo
Born in Accra, Ghana, in 1984, Amoako Boafo lives and works in Vienna, Austria, today. Painted using thick, gestural brushstrokes, Boafo’s lucid portraits honor and immortalize his Black subjects, the body’s contours softened almost into abstraction. Amoako Boafo’s works accentuate and elevate figures with serene poses and luminous skin, making their gaze the focal point of the scene.
An alumni of Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, Amoako Boafo was honored with a Walter Koschatzky Art Prize in 2017. His paintings are widely collected by both private and public collectors and institutions, including Vienna’s Leopold Museum, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
6. Misheck Masamvu
Misheck Masamvu’s work explores and comments on the socio-political setting of post-independence Zimbabwe, focusing on the impact of economic policies and sustained political uncertainty.
Masamvu was born in Penhalonga, Zimbabwe in 1980. His work includes painting, drawing, and sculpture, raising questions and ideas regarding the preservation of dignity and the state of “being.”
While studying at Munich’s Atelier Delta and Kunste Akademie, Masamvu focused on realism, later developing a more avant-garde expressionist style of representation. Misheck Masamvu is best known for his dramatic, graphic brushstrokes, his paintings betraying his constant social engagement. His works have been exhibited at several prestigious shows, including Art Basel 2018, Armory Show 2018, and Basel Miami Beach 2017.