Must See: African Artists Showcasing at the 57th Venice Biennale

Venice has over the years become an art and architectural hotspot for investors, collectors, galleries and artists. The beautiful city in Italy will be hosting the 57th Venice Art Biennale from May to November 2017. Nigeria will be making its first official debut at the Biennale for the first time alongside 80 other countries. The Nigeria pavilion is commissioned by His Excellency, Governor Obaseki of Edo State, the pavilion’s exhibition will be curated by Adenrele Sonariwo and Emmanuel Iduma, and theme of their presentation is “How About NOW”.  The pavilion offers an opportunity for Nigeria to reflect on her history and heritage as well as champion her current fragmented but intertwined narratives. Visual artists whose works will be displayed are Victor Ehikhamenor, and Peju Alatise, and Dance / Performance Artist, Qudus Onikeku.

This will not be the only African country that will be participating.Victoria Miro is opening a new gallery in Venice for the first time. The London gallery will feature Chris Ofili for its opening. SouthAfrican pavilion will be showcasing the works of Mohau Modisakeng who is represented by Tyburn Gallery.

Find below the lists of African artists that will be showcasing at the International Venice Art Biennale over the next couple of month.

Chris Ofili: Poolside Magic | Victoria Miro Venice | 10 May – 1 July 2017


Entitled Poolside Magic the exhibition comprises a suite of pastel, charcoal and watercolour works on paper, which are being shown together for the first time. Poolside Magic, in which a man in coat-tails serves a naked woman beside a swimming pool, riffs on themes of sexuality, mutability, magic and the occult, making reference to the vibrant and sensuous landscape and culture of Trinidad, where the artist lives and works.

The gallery will be opening during the Vernissage for the 57th Venice Biennale. The exhibition marks a return to the city for the artist. Ofili has previously represented Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, when he presented his ambitious exhibition Within Reach, and in 2015 a suite of Ofili’s paintings were included in All The World’s Futures, the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor. Chris Ofili’s exhibition Weaving Magic is at the National Gallery, London from 26 April to 28 August 2017.

Venue: Victoria Miro Venice, Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994, Venice
Private view: Tuesday 9 May, 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Exhibition 10 May – 1 July 2017
Time: 11.00am – 1.30pm and 3.00pm – 6.30pm | Extended hours during opening week 10 May – 14 May 2017 10.00am – 7.00pm
Admission is free


Mohau Modisakeng ‘Passage’ | South African Pavilion


The South African Pavilion will be located at the Sale D’Armi, Arsenale. This year’s South African Pavilion will be a two-person show including work by Mohau Modisakeng and Candice Breitz, curated by Lucy MacGarry and Musha Neluheni.

Mohau Modisakeng is based in South Africa. His award winning and internationally exhibited photography, film, performance and installation work forms a personal and idiosyncratic exploration of a local narrative. Informed by a coming of age during our country’s violent political transition, his practice grapples with black male identity, body and place within a post-apartheid context. Modisakeng presents critical responses to ideas of nationhood, leadership, inequality and migrant labour that manifest visually as poignant moments of grieving and catharsis central to the current lived experience of contemporary South Africans.


The Nigerian Pavilion will be located at the Scoletta dei Tiraoro e Battioro, Salizada San Stae, Santa Croce.

Writer and artist Victor Ehikhamenor will present a large-scale piece titled The Biography of the Forgotten.  The piece combines abstract shapes and traditional motifs inspired by a study of classical Benin art and the effect of colonialism on cultural heritage. It also pays homage to individuals who have made a difference and contributed to the art world from classicists to modernists.

Peju Alatise | Nigerian Pavilion


Peju Alatise wears many hats. A researcher, lecturer, sculptor and trained architect, Peju will be presenting the Flying Girls.

She is known for her large scale, sculptural works tackling contemporary themes most recurring of which is gender and its associated politics.

Flying Girl is an installation of eight winged life-size girls, influenced by the story of a ten-year-old girl who works as a housemaid in Lagos. As an advocate for Girl Child safety, her work seeks to progress the discussion on the topic.



Qudus Onikeku | Nigerian Pavilion


Thinker, dancer, choreographer, writer, curator, creative director, and filmmaker. Qudus Onikeku is the artistic director and founder of YK Projects, Paris and QDanceCenter. Lagos.

Qudus Onikeku’s presentation will be a trilogy of performance films titled Right Here, Right Now as an investigation through dance performance on the workings of the body and memory in connection to national consciousness.

He is a graduate of The National Higher School of Circus Arts, France. For two decades, he has retained a presence in the Nigerian choreographic scene, and part of the new generation creators springing up from Africa, known in Europe, Asia, in the USA, Latin America, and the Caribbean for his solo works, writings and groundbreaking research projects.


Leave a Comment