Five of the Best Represented African Textile Artists

Five of the Best Represented African Textile Artists

Publié dans Art Market Design

Tapestry has long had the perception of a high-end product on the art market. Today, African textile artists participate more in international exhibitions, art fairs, and auctions. They are supported by auctioneers on their continent, but also by major auction houses who are introducing their work to foreign collectors. Although not all textile art forms are represented, their art pieces are gradually sought after by art lovers and a larger audience in need of variety.

This growing interest in African textile art has been favored by the early success of artists such as El Anatsui and Yinka Shonibare whose sculptures look like fabric or use garments. Their exploration of textile has inspired many African artists whether through painting, photography, embroidery, and tapestry. So, we’ve gathered a list of African artists who have achieved recent success in auctions, with works sold at accessible prices.

Athi-Patra Ruga

Nationality: South Africa
Occupation: Multidisciplinary artist
Most Expensive Artwork: The Night of the Long Knives I (2013), sold for $121,105 on February 2019 at Strauss & Co Cape Town

Athi-Patra Ruga was born in Umtata, South Africa in 1984. He learnt art in high school and studied fashion design at university in Johannesburg. His work merges art with fashion through performance, tapestry, and photography to explore the body in relation to sensuality, culture, and queerness. Ruga’s tapestries depict subjects that are a combination of spiritual figures and celebrities, often transposing characters from his performances. In June 2021, a tapestry representing a self-portrait titled Uzukile the Elder (2013) was sold for $31,210 at Artcurial Paris. His works have gone up for sale at public auctions multiple times, mostly in the South African market.

Exile by Athi-Patra Ruga

Thania Petersen

Nationality: South Africa
Occupation: Multidisciplinary artist
Most Expensive Artwork: Tanne Manne, sold for $16,000 on February 2022 at Sotheby’s New York

Thania Petersen was born in 1980 in Cape Town, South Africa. Her family moved to the United Kingdom where she grew up and studied visual arts. Her work focuses on performance, photography, tapestry, and installation to address themes of colonialism, imperialism, and islamophobia. Petersen often uses the Islam prayer mat in her tapestries to recreate its signified meaning. Her tapestries hold space for meditative moments symbolized by the seeping black threaded into the embroidery’s making as seen in the artwork Of Birds and Trees and Flowers and Bees (2019). Her work has been purchased by various public collections including the Zeitz MOCAA and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

Of Birds and Trees and Flowers and Bees by Thania Petersen

Joshua Michael Adokuru

Nationality: Nigeria
Occupation: Textile artist
Most Expensive Artwork: Boy 2 (2021), sold for $12,000 on August 2021 at Christie’s New York

Joshua Michael Adokuru was born in 1999 in Suleja, Nigeria. He is a self-taught artist studying computer science at the National Open University of Nigeria in Abuja. Working with strings, nails and acrylic on board, he creates sophisticated portraits of Black people. Each portrait is unique as it tends to bring out the emotional state of the subject. Adokuru captures the facial expression by stitching colorful strings on the canvas from one point of the face to another. His artworks have been recently included in the catalog of major auction houses, introducing international collectors to his portraits.

Skai by Joshua Michael Adokuru

Lawrence Lemaoana

Nationality: South Africa
Occupation: Textile artist
Most Expensive Artwork: A Whole Broken Man (2010), sold for €10,928 on May 2022 at Piasa Paris

Born in 1982 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he lives and works, Lawrence Lemaoana graduated from the University of Johannesburg - School of Fine Arts in 2007. His work deals with the current socio-political situation in his country, evoking the complexity of post-apartheid society with visual metaphors and theological considerations. He mostly works with kanga, an iconic textile widely used in Southern Africa, which he enriches through embroidered texts representing slogans, puns, biblical references, and popular expressions. Thereby, the artist satirizes mass media by appropriating political dictums into the fabric. Last year, several tapestries from his Kanga series were offered at auction by Piasa in Paris.

Kanga series by Lawrence Lemaoana

Ana Silva

Nationality: Angola
Occupation: Multidisciplinary artist
Most Expensive Artwork: Estendal 19 (2020), sold for 5,200 on May 2022 at Piasa Paris

Born in 1979 in Calulo, Angola, Ana Silva is a visual artist who developed a passion for creation in her youth. She studied visual arts in Lisbon, Portugal, where she practices painting, sculpture, and installation. Silva’s work explores themes of feminism, poverty, and ecology, and is influenced by her memories of the Angolan civil war she witnessed in her youth. In her recent series, Vestir Memorias, she questions the trade in second-hand clothes in Africa because of the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment and the economy. Her works have been purchased at auction multiple times, mostly in the tapestry category.

Vestir Memorias by Ana Silva


Publié dans Art MarketDesign  |  mai 27, 2023