Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Christabel Johanson

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Black Women’s Bodies in Art

BlackWomenI Shape Beauty 3 (2)

Through their art work, these women confront the injustices of misrepresentation done to black women throughout history and disrupt the built-in prejudices they have faced. Importantly they also prove that the importance of black female’s bodies run more than just skin deep.

Christabel Johanson on Black Women’s Bodies in Art.

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Zak Ové, artist, curator of Get Up, Stand Up Now


We should have more shows about Black creativity in the UK, exploring the dialogue between Black artists and how they are communicating the Black experience. There have been some exhibitions on Black creativity before, but often they aren’t given such a big platform or even if they are, it’s cyclic, a programming trend that’s then forgotten again for another decade. For instance, I remember in 2005, there was Kerry James Marshall at the Camden Arts Centre, Back to Black at the Whitechapel and Africa Remix at Hayward Gallery. All fantastic shows but then there was no follow up straight afterwards. I would advocate that it needs to be more consistent.

Zak Ové in conversation with Christabel Johanson
Richard Rawlings, The True Crown, 2018, courtesy the artist

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African Street Art


Bubbling under the surface of Africa’s urban landscape is a style of art historically viewed as provocative, empowering and intrinsically attached to black culture. The street art scene – in particular from South Africa – is responsible for the vivid murals and art work strewn across its metropolis and suburbs.

Christabel Johanson on Street Art in Africa
Faith47, 2017

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Is black art just a trend?

LubianaHimidNamingTheMoneyTheDancing Master

Is black art just a trend? “By putting the power of profit, the power of the gaze and the power of art into the hands of black communities, society can take this to the next level. Coupled with help from allies of all backgrounds then, and perhaps only then, can we say that black art transforms beyond a trend and into a sustainable force.”

Christabel Johanson tries to answer that ‘burning question’.
Lubaina Himid, The Dancing Master (detail of Naming the Money), 2004, courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens


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African Culture Through The Lens

Photography therefore also has the potential to present a reality divorced from the artist’s bias so as to challenge the prejudices of history. The objects in front of the lens must be decoded and contextualised as part of a wider civilisation and context. This is especially true for tribal African cultures.

Christabel Johanson on the representation of Africa through photography.
Kara man painted and adorned for courtship, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

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