The African Art Series “Luminosity” Dazzles at Bvlgari Hotel London

The African Art Series is celebrating its incredibly successful art event during Black History Month. The contemporary African art pop up dazzled over three days in the elegant surroundings of Bvlgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, London. The exhibition showcased works from renowned African artists, Ben Enwonwu MBE and El Anatsui, as well as some of the rising stars of art’s fastest-growing sector, presenting a fabulous display of artwork from across the African continent for invited guests, and later the public to appreciate and invest in.

Black History Month was launched to recognise the achievements of those with African or Caribbean heritage. The African Art Series provided a timely platform to celebrate and appreciate Africa’s contribution to art and culture. Modern African art is a fascinating fusion of visual, tactile and audio narratives.  It tells stories about the history, heritage, culture, identity and language of Africa, immersing audiences in tales and legends from generations past to generations present, and inspiring an exciting and positive perception of the continent.

The event began with a private drinks reception in the contemporary surroundings of a spacious Bvlgari suite.  The specially invited guests drawn from the worlds of banking, media, art, fashion and luxury were treated to mouth-watering Italian canapes prepared by Bvlgari Hotel London chef, Adriano Cavagnini, accompanied by delicious Ruinart champagne. 

Among the 250 notable guests in attendance were the Nigerian High Commissioner, HE ​​Sarafa Tunji Isola, Coutts Bank, Hello Magazine, The Times Luxx, the Viscount de Contades, Lady Camilla Beresford, JP Morgan, Bicester Village fashion, Sotheby’s International Realty, Eight Investment, Imperial College, Ascot Wealth, Country & Town House, Blue International Talent, Standard Chartered Bank and the Financial Times alongside various notable Nigerian guests including Tunji Akintokun MBE, Adeola Bali, Adetilewa Adebajo and many other glamorous art lovers. 

The guests were welcomed to the event by Kostas Sfaltos, General Manager of Bvlgari Hotel London, “We are proud to support The Luxury Network Nigeria’s inaugural contemporary art showcase ‘The African Art Series’, and look forward to welcoming and connecting with both the London and African art communities.”

Cas Ojo, MD, The Luxury Network Nigeria and founder of the Series spoke next discussing the origins and the thinking behind the exhibition. “The African Art Series was created to encourage a different kind of conversation and narrative about Africa and its art.  We want to challenge preconceptions and misconceptions by presenting the brilliance, beauty and creativity of art from Africa and its diaspora, in stunning surroundings of luxury and opulence.” She was joined by Helena Warren, Managing Director of The Luxury Network UK, who spoke of her love for African art and support for the project.

Ojo went on to introduce Hannah O’Leary, the Director of Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s. O’Leary shared her extensive knowledge of the market, its art and its artists. Discussing how the meteoric rise in global attention has led to increasing international acclaim and skyrocketing prices. She advised collectors and would-be collectors, “As with any art, always check authenticity and provenance, and above all, buy what you love.”

The Patron of the series, Yvonne Fasinro, Head of Sub Saharan Africa at Bank of America, then spoke of the value of a platform such as The African Art Series in allowing “Africans to use art to represent our culture from our own perspective.”

Serge Tiroche, Founder of Africa First and the Tiroche DeLeon Collection then shared a few words on the expected growth and trajectory of African art, over the next decade. This was followed by a short speech by the event curator Lisa Anderson. Anderson talked to the guests about the 36 pieces of artwork on display, explaining, “The inaugural exhibition of The African Art Series is titled ‘Luminosity’ as it is a celebratory showcase of works representing Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the African diaspora in the UK and America. The pieces chosen speak to the abundant talent and value of African art and unapologetically luxuriate in its luminosity.”

Following the keynote speeches, the guests were ushered into the magnificent Bvlgari ballroom to delight in the creative depth and technical flair of the array of works from some of Africa’s most celebrated artists. Expressive landscape paintings from Ben Enwonwu MBE, the Nigerian master painter, featured alongside a typically vibrant abstraction of bustling town life by renowned Ghanaian artist and educator, Ablade Glover. Sculptural work from fellow esteemed Ghanaian El Enatsui, whose carved tropical hardwood ‘tempera’ work was displayed alongside Steve Ekpenisi’s depiction of traditionally male metalwork design, and an intricate wood panel sculpture by Bruce Onobrakpeya. A myriad of paintings, drawings, photographs, and mixed media works, by rising names such as Wole Lagunju, Devan Shimoyama, Pamela Phatismo Sunstrum, Giggs Kgole, Niyi Olagunju, Zanele Muholi and Asiko, were chosen to explode the myth that a simplistic aesthetic can tell the story of the most compelling contemporary African Art.    

Speaking after the event, Cas Ojo said “I am beyond thrilled with the success of our inaugural pop-up art exhibition. In terms of the number of guests who attended and the public who supported us, as well as the amount of art that people purchased. I could not have hoped for more with our launch of The African Art Series. It has exceeded my expectations in every way. Holding this event during Black History Month allowed us to contribute to the positive dialogue about the great continent of Africa and the cultural importance and value of its art.”