Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Christabel Johanson

text: email

James Barnor. A Retrospective

James Barnor, Pearly King, Petticoat Lane Market, London, 1960s, Courtesy Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière

James Barnor’s work is remarkable but not just for the lifespan of years recording culture around the world. In Barnor’s work you can feel the richness of life behind the portraits.

Christabel Johanson on British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor
Pearly King Petticoat Lane Market, London 1960s, Courtesy Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière.

Read more »

Benji Reid: Laugh at Gravity


“The starting point of my work is what I refer to as a ‘love-note to my daughter’. I started capturing her everyday life as a child. I evolved my style through play and experimenting.”

Christabel Johanson interviews Benji Reid
Light Bike, 2021, Giclée print, 110 x 165 cm. Edition of 8 plus 2 artist’s proofs

Read more »

Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory

ToyinA Pull_at_the_Back_of_the_Mind, 84 X 50 inches, 2019, courtesy Jack Shainman

Using only drawing materials such as pencil and charcoal, Ojih Odutola tackles the body of work much like a poem or novel. The artist was said to spend months crafting images that created a structure similar to chapters of a novel.

Christabel Johanson on Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola
Toyin Ojih Odutola, A Pull at the Back of a Mind, 2019 © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Read more »

Zanele Muholi


By playing photographer and subject, Muholi keeps the authenticity of both roles and redefines the transaction between those roles. It is true to say that she is both (and neither) the dominant and submissive party. This is the traditional power dynamic examined through the styles she uses.

Christabel Johanson on Zanele Muholi
Somnyama Ngonyama II, Oslo, 2015 © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York.

Read more »

Cydne Jasmin Coleby


Being in post-colonial society there is a narrative of identity that was placed upon you. It’s as though you’re expected to play a role – you’ve been given a script and you’re doing your best to play into this idea and deliver this character. As a woman you are striving to live up to the standard of Eurocentric women, a standard that’s difficult for even some European women.

Christabel Johanson on Cydne Jasmin Coleby
I’ve been made whole, 2020

Read more »