Who better to depict the African story than the African artist?

Monday October 02 2023

The painting “Lusters’s Pink Original” by British artist Esiri Erheriene-Essi. PHOTO | POOL


Painting depicting the African story is on the rise, a reflection of the African artist's self-awareness. It therefore does not come as a surprise that from September 24 to January 7 next year, Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort in the Netherlands is exhibiting Carla and Pieter Schulting’s collection of contemporary African art.

Over the past five years, Carla and Pieter Schulting have assembled an extensive collection of 170 artworks that include paintings, sculptures and photographs by 154 artists from 33 African countries and the African diaspora.

The exhibition titled “Africa Supernova” presents a large cross-section of the collection, showing the diverse, complex and promising artistic development of contemporary African art. Southern Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, eastern Africa (Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia) and North Africa are represented. With a focus on young artists – most are in their thirties, a few in their early twenties - the exhibition is not a comprehensive overview of African art, but an anthology from an emerging art scene.

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“Together with Carla and Pieter Schulting we are eyewitnesses to the blossoming of a group of artists who are taking the art world by storm in the wake of a number of - now - big names. The focus is on painters, along with a number of sculptors and a growing focus on photography,” Kunsthal KAdE says.

The artists present Africa from within and do so with great self-awareness and a sense for how the black body has been treated for centuries.


“Contemporary African artists - from this awareness - fold past, present and future together in their work,” writes Azu Nwagbogu (co-curator Buro Stedelijk, Amsterdam) in his contribution to the catalog, “filling up a gap [read: wound] in representation that seems impossible to breach through the self-appropriation lent by figuration.” Meanwhile, “it” is not merely a political and aesthetic statement, “it” is a matter of poise,” so says Nwagbogu.

The Dutch couple talks about their collection and their motivation behind collecting African art.

Pieter Schulting, said: “What is African art?’ There is actually no such thing, because it is so diverse. An artist from Morocco can make a very different work than an artist from South Africa. It’s a huge continent, of course, and we also want to show that there are these huge differences. I myself, since we started collecting African art, have also gained a different perspective on the continent. Discovering the artworks and meeting people from many different African countries has been very educational and inspiring.”

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 “The title 'Africa Supernova' reflects on how in recent years, the art of the African continent has taken the global art world by storm, much like an explosion. We are only just beginning to discover what the African continent has in store for us. The title was invented by the Nigerian curator Azu Nwagbogu, who will be curating the Benin pavilion for next year’s Venice Biennale,” said Carla Schulting.

“This title sums up very well that our collection cannot easily be categorised; it is so varied and diverse. We only show works that we love, that have touched our hearts. It is an explosion of creativity, and that is exactly what we want to show,” Carla added.

Participating artists from Eastern Africa include Sanaa Gateja (Uganda), Collin Sekajugo (Uganda), Sungi Mlengeya (Tanzania), Stacey Gillian Abe (Uganda), Richard Atugonza (Uganda), Matt Kayem (Uganda), Thandiwe Muriu (Kenya), Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Godwin Champs Namuyimba (Uganda), Serge Alain Nitegeka (Rwanda), Kaloki Nyamai (Kenya), Dawit L. Petros (Eritrea), and Lubaina Himid (Zanzibar|UK).