Tomorrow Bonhams is holding its Africa Now sale in London amid growing interest in African art from the world but also, more important, from home:
Most of the bidders at Bonhams’s Africa Now sales are African buyers with conservative tastes, according to Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams’s African art director. “We’re aiming very much at that market,” he explained in an interview. Bonhams is also catering to non-African collectors and museums.
“The Tate [Modern museum] have been very public in saying that they are collecting in this area,” Peppiatt explained. “The Smithsonian [Institution] in the US have also been very public about their involvement.”
Many works are from Nigeria, Africa’s strongest economy, where most African collectors and artists live. The oil boom, despite the recent drop in oil prices, has generated a thriving art market.
“This is not about the world discovering African art, it’s about Africa discovering art,” remarked Marie-Cécile Zinsou, president of the Zinsou Foundation, a cultural centre based in Cotonou, Benin’s main city.
African art lovers and buyers are discovering their own continent’s art production.
“This is one of the most important things, one of the most important changes in the last 10 or 20 years,” Zinsou explained in a phone interview.