African Connections: Artists to Watch at 1-54 and Frieze Masters


Rebecca Anne Proctor highlights eight artists showing with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, taking place at Somerset House in London (8–10 October 2020) alongside an online edition powered by Christie's (7–12 October 2020), plus Ben Enwonwu's focus with kó as part of Frieze Masters online (9–16 October 2020).



Soly Cissé at Sulger-Buel Gallery, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

One of Senegal's most revered artists, Soly Cissé is known for abstract paintings, sculptures, and fantastical installations that conjure up imaginary subjects that oscillate between our present-day realities and a fantasy realm.

Based in his hometown of Dakar, Cissé's work has long focused on issues pertaining to social injustice through his abstract works that often juxtapose traditional with modern aspects of life in Senegal.

In recent years, Cissé's work has focused on the pivotal role of slavery in the global economy, with a particular focus on the cotton industry. Since the 16th century, cotton has remained an important business.

On display at 1-54 presented by London-based Sulger-Buel Gallery, the artist's Cotton Field (2019), an installation made out of welded iron and cotton fibres, reveals rows of recreated cotton plants. At 300 by 180 centimetres, the metaphorical installation commemorates those whose freedoms have been abolished by the cotton industry.

Through this work, Cissé transports the viewer to Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, the Caribbean, and countless other places. The installation incorporates no human figures or sound—just the reference to the cotton fields and the plantations that gave way to the struggles, new cultures, and ultimately, new world order that still haunts us today."


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October 8, 2020
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