Now in its fifth year, 1:54 has quickly grown to become not only one of the leading fairs of Frieze Week in London, but the only international art fair dedicated to African artists and galleries. The sunny Touria El Glaoui, dressed in a bright patterned dress as she opened the fair at Somerset House on Wednesday, will take the fair back to the continent next year, to Marrakech (the fair also has a New York iteration). Establishing the fair “back on the continent” was something El Glaoui said was important for them to do. Describing the fair more as a family than a commercial entity, there is something distinctly different about 1:54, especially in the inviting rooms of Somerset House, it feels more like a meandering exhibition than a strip-lit art supermarket. What really makes 1:54, of course, is the 130 African and African Diaspora artists on view (and many in attendance). Elephant selects some of the unmissables, from Morrocan-born, East-London based Hassan Hajjaj (whose solo exhibition presented in partnership with 1:54 runs until January), known for his the colour-popping photographs, videos and assemblages, to Accra-based Godfried Donkor, who makes delicate collages on newspaper print to talk about the exploitation of human bodies in the past and present. From the younger generation, Larry Achiampong is one to watch: his special commission for the fair is a flag for the African continent, an exploration of what Pan-African identity means and how it might be symbolized in 2017.
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Until 8 October at Somerset House, London