“African art” is increasingly seen as a very broad term for the 54 countries within the continent, as the fair’s name reminds us. “The ‘African’ label doesn’t have to go, but it has to evolve,” says Rakeb Sile, co-founder of Ethiopia’s Addis Fine Art, which opens a second space in London’s Cromwell Place next year. “Africa is seen as a monolith, but it has very many different histories. What comes into people’s heads should be more nuanced now.”
At the fair, Sile sold works by all the Ethiopia-born artists she had brought for her booth: Tadesse Mesfin (£25,000-£35,000) and his pupils Ermias Kifleyesus (£5,500-£12,500) and Merikokeb Berhanu (up to £15,000). Elsewhere, sales included DRC artist Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga’s “Conscience Fragile” (2019) to South Africa’s Norval Foundation (October Gallery, $65,000), while Vigo gallery reported sales of 57 of the “Pain Relief” drawings by the Sudan-born Ibahim El-Salahi (priced between £2,000 and £30,000 each), including a number to London’s Modern Forms collection.