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Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

‘The Africanists’ – An Exhibition At Bonhams Sponsored by The Africa Channel & Action Aid

Bonhams plays host to a breathtaking collection of African Art titled ‘The Africanists’ from December 21st to January 11th which provides an opportunity to travel vicariously into this most colourful and mysterious continent.

AfricanistsGiles Peppiatt, Head of African Art at Bonhams comments: “We are delighted to be hosting this exhibition and extend our grateful thanks to Simon Carson and Freddie Booker-Carson for allowing us to display a portion of their wonderful pictures. We also wish to thank The Africa Channel and Action Aid for their support in this task. It is our hope that the current exhibition will aid in the ongoing effort to bring the Africanists into the public eye.”

Lynne Thornton, Author of Les Africanistes, Peintres Voyageurs (ACR edition 1990) says: “These representations of Africans and Africa will certainly be perceived in different way. For some people, it will be an invitation to travel, through their imagination, to lands they have never visited. For others, it will be an opportunity to relive memories of countries they have known and loved. For many, it will be the surprise of discovering painting and sculpture which they have never come across before.”

“The works shown here can be seen as precious records of an Africa which has since been profoundly changed by political upheavals, fearful strife, the dreaded world-wide pandemic and the encroachment of modern civilisation. But these creations by talented artists should, above all, be appreciated and enjoyed for their own sake, for their beauty, poetry, or sheer visual impact.”

“Each of the Africanists, whether in an academic, semi-figurative or more abstract style, endeavoured to give their own vision of the continent and to relate their own unforgettable experience. These men and women who, for the most part, travelled or lived in Africa in the 1920s to the 1950s, were devoid of racial prejudice. Their aim was not to impress or impose, nor was it to record the establishment of Europeans. For these artists, Africa was black, not white.”

Commencing in the 1880s and continuing into the 1960s, artists well-established in their careers in Europe and abroad set off to explore Africa. This exhibition, co-curated by Freddie Booker-Carson, bears witnes to the fruits of their travels, the art that documented their journeys and opened a window on life in Africa.

The artists included in this exhibition have created a body of work that is distinctly European in style yet purely African in subject. Unlike so many of their contemporaries, they did not draw inspiration from African artefacts and apply it to their work as stylistic innovation. Rather, they experienced the continent firsthand and translated the colours, sounds, scents, and spectacle of Africa onto canvas. Their travel methods varied: some were content with a single tour, while others committed their lives to the place, living, working and dying there. The Africanists travelled to Africa during years in which some of the worst colonial exploitation was taking place, yet their works reflect a continent of great natural beauty, humanity, diversity and tradition – a vibrant continent that is still very much alive amidst everything else.

The field of Africanist art remains relatively unfamiliar to English-speaking audiences, but it marks the origins of an artistic curiosity for the continent that continues to this day. In contemporary France and Belgium, the genre is well represented in national museums such as the Musée de Quai Branley and the Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, but has yet to truly penetrate UK or US public collections.

The Booker Carson collection of Africanist art is a unique assembly of these works, an exceptional collection that not only delights the eye, but also provides a valuable research resource.