Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Christabel Johanson

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Liz Johnson Artur


For Artur photography is about cultivating trust between the artist and the subject. Her focus is on representing people the way they want to be represented. Documenting that in a picture is a form of conservation and she has kept her lens on the Black community, focusing on the everyday moments that present themselves.

Christabel Johanson on Liz Johnson Artur
Untitled, 1996-2012, courtecy Brooklyn Museum, copyright Liz Johnson Artur Read more »

Jennifer Packer at Serpentine Galleries London


Packer has previously said she has contemplated the devotion and fixation artists put into the process of creating. As such the show’s name is derived from a scripture in the Bible, “All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing”.

Christabel Johanson writes about the American artist Jennifer Packer.
Jess, 2018. Photo Jason Wyche. Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York

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Kwesi Botchway

Kwesi Botchway, Bald Head King, 2020. Acrylic on canvas. 31 x 31 in.Courtesy of Gallery 1957

Botchway’s exhibition seeked to unify the mercurial nature of human traditions and politics around what it means to be black. Be it beauty, fashion, identity or skin tone Botchway’s message isn’t just static, it isn’t just a state of being, it is a state of becoming something more.

Christabel Johanson on the work of Kwesi Botchway
Bold Head King, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 31 x 31 in. Courtesy of Gallery 1957, London Read more »

The Medium is the Message, exhibition in London


The Medium is the Message we can therefore say finds purpose in curating nuanced work. It contains work from a group of artists that explores shades of colour, blackness and identity. It seeks to “return to the raw constituents of painting, to find what can be said about black identity today, through medium alone.”

Christabel Johanson reviews the exhibition The Medium is The Message in London
Eniwaye Oluwaseyi. A Branch and Two, 2020. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 100 x 80 cm.

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Mental Health in Black Art

Redefining Mental Illness

Being able to express oneself without words is a powerful tool in making wellbeing accessible for those without the confidence to voice how they feel. Experiencing emotions vicariously through other’s work, whether they are your own emotions reflected or new ways to empathise with others, is a priceless gift. And in the economics of health, art is a valuable currency which has an international value.

Christabel Johanson on Mental Health in Black Art
Tsoku Maela, redifining mental illness

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