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Recent initiatives & investments in African Art Market

MilleniAl collectors

THEO DANJUMA Collector, London
Theo Danjuma
Collector, London
Theo Danjuma started his collection in London in 2008 when he was in his early twenties. The son of the Nigerian General and businessman Theophilus Danjuma, he has acquired over 400 artworks by over 100 artists and houses his collection in Surrey, England. The collection includes works by international artists such as Gilbert & George and Antony Gormley along with upcoming talents such as Nicholas Hlobo from South Africa and Sammy Baloji from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The contemporary art collection is broad in scope whilst also reflecting Danjuma’s family ties to the African continent.
” In 2007, I started going to galleries with a friend of mine, initially focusing on younger galleries showing mostly street art. From there I went down the rabbit hole and slowly graduated to more serious contemporary art. I will always be grateful to White Cube, who were very welcoming, giving me catalogues to read and taking me on studio visits when other galleries didn’t take me seriously because of my age. The first piece that I bought by an African artist was probably a photograph by Pieter Hugo.
Contemporary art speaks to our time and we live in such a globalized time that any kind of geographic focus would feel arbitrary and insincere. I am very proud of the little Julie Mehretu drawing that I own; the work of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye speaks to me in a very direct and personal way; Nicholas Hlobo is a wonderful artist as are Zander Blom and Neil Beloufa. It has been a privilege to get to know Neil personally and support his shows at the ICA London.
The last piece that I acquired was a 1990s black-and-white photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans of Isa Genzken. It’s a really wonderful piece and highlights the great bond and respect the two artists have for one another. I mostly focus on people I already own and try and go in depth where I can. There are a number of artists – Tillmans is a good example – where the critical reception is way ahead of the market. For a while my focus was on younger artists. But I am learning to see that art history has a long arc so I have been revisiting artists in the generation above me like Isa Genzken, Albert Oehlen and Kathryn Andrews.

Stevenson in Cape Town and Johannesburg and Jack Shainman in New York are the obvious galleries for finding works by African artists or with African origins. But often you’ll find galleries happen to have one artist with a connection to Africa, like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Corvi-Mora in London or Neil Beloufa at Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles.”

STEPHEN TIO KAUMA Collector, Kampala
Stephen Tio Kauma
Collector, Kampala
Stephen Tio Kauma is a Uganda collector of contemporary art from Africa who is based in Cairo. He’s a strong supporter of the Kampala Biennale, which is run by Daudi Karungi and whose 2016 edition was curated by Elise Atangana.
“My interest in art began in my childhood because my father liked to collect eclectic artworks for our home. His job involved a large amount of travel around Africa and so our house had pieces of art from different African places. I love the uniqueness, vibrancy and message behind this type of art because it captures the depth and peculiarity of our African heritage.
I am very proud of being African and so these attributes resonate with me.
My position as human resources director at Afreximbank, an African Export-Import Bank headquartered in Cairo, has enabled me to travel extensively around Africa over the last seven years. When I am in other countries, I try to visit art galleries and contemporary art exhibitions if time allows. The beauty of the different types of art that I have seen on these trips has given me a chance to collect. Each piece that I buy takes me back to a particular time, place and experience.
I have art from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Gabon, Tanzania, Egypt and the Seychelles. They tend to be medium-priced works by upcoming contemporary artists. My two latest purchases are a signed lithograph by Benon Lutaaya, a Uganda-born artist based in Johannesburg, and a watercolor painting by Lioda Conrad, an artist based in Cape Town. I have my eye on two Ugandan artists, Taga Nuwagaba and Nuwa Nnyanzi, among others.”
BlaCk ColleCtors Forum iNvestmeNt FuND iN JohaNNesBurg, south aFriCa
The Black Collectors Forum (BCF) was launched in 2014 by Tshepiso Mohlala, director of the !Kauru African Contemporary Art project in Johannesburg. The BCF claims to be the only platform in South Africa that is targeting new audiences, notably affluent and young black professionals. It aims to enhance their access to contemporary art through what it describes as “culture broking” events to help first time buyers and introduce them to the purchasing of art.
The BCF’s launch event, which targeted affluent black individuals and industry professionals, was organised by Andile Magengelele, an independent curator and art broker, who invited several speakers: Makgati Molebatsi (art collector and board member of The Bag Factory Artist Studios), Dr Oupa Morare (Collector and director of Becomo Art Centre), Michelle Constant (CEO of Business Arts South Africa), Ruarc Peffers (former senior specialist in contemporary art at Strauss & Co. auctioneers) and Sam Nhlengethwa (an artist and collector).
The incentive behind the BCF reflects the change in post-apartheid South Africa that has led to a growing black middle-class with greater disposable income. The BCF was established to nurture this generation of new black art collectors and encourage them to invest in African contemporary art.
A key objective is to broaden art audiences and potential markets for appreciating, acquiring and investing in visual arts. This follows on from how the !Kauru African Contemporary Art project – a platform for African contemporary artists and cultural practioners – seeks to change perceptions of the continent through conversations about contemporary art, both in Africa and internationally, in order to stimulate cultural exchange.
Behind the BCF and !Kauru is the belief that black entrepreneurs should be involved in their country’s art scene. Indeed, the website features a quote from South African artist David Koloane saying that black African entrepreneurs will need to play a major role in the complexities of the art market.

Art Funds

Nahim Suti
Ceo First Finance,Abidjan
Please could you tell us the names of some of the African artists in your collection?
The main artists are Ablade Glover from Ghana, Ludovic Fadaïro from Benin, Christophe Sawadogo and Vivien Tapsoba from Burkina Faso, Ulliette Balliet from Togo, and Moné Bou, Youssouf Bath, Augustin Kassi, Soro Péhouet, Bamogo Séni, Aboudia, Blacaus, Samir Jacques Stenka from Ivory Coast.
When did you start acquiring art and which were the first artists whose works you acquired?
It was in 2005 and they were essentially young artists who had been at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts of Abidjan. I discovered their works through Houkami Guyzagn, who was then a young gallerist representing emerging artists from Ivory Coast. This allowed me, when I opened my micro-finance business in 2009, to create an off-shoot structure called West African Private Equity (WAP’ART), focused on negotiating and being an intermediary for the acquisition of art.
Do you envisage acquiring more works by African artists?
Of course, especially beyond the West African region. We intend to look at artists from Central Africa and South Africa etc.
Which artists are you interested in that are not already represented in your collection?
Artists from the Ivory Coast diaspora such as Ouattara Watt and Ernest Düku; Ivory Coast pioneers such as Michel Kodjo, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and James Houra; the Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté; the Burkina Faso artist Ky Siriki; and numerous other Senegalese artists and perhaps artists from North Africa.
What do you think of the market boom for contemporary art from Africa?
This boom reflects the rise of the middle class, which is boosted by Africans of the diaspora that are returning to the continent with an awareness about art.
As a financier, what are you doing to contribute to the boom of contemporary art from Ivory Coast?
In my micro-finance company, for example, we accept as safe-havens gold, real estate, company shares quoted on the stock exchange and artworks even though artists’ quotas are not established in rigid ways. In this sense, we have experimented with the creation of a secondary market. Specifically, early on we acquired artworks that we considered to be in good order. We documented them then we later sold them for double if not triple the price for which we bought them in order to acquire more works by better-quoted artists.
Brett Scott
Collection Manager, Scheryn Art Collection, Cape Town
The Scheryn Art Collection Fund in Cape Town was founded in 2015 by two entrepreneurs, Herman Steyn and Dabing Chen. It purchases artworks by artists from Africa and the African diaspora for collectors who receive monetary and nonmonetary returns.
“The Scheryn Art Collection was set up as the first dedicated art collection in Africa to provide collectors with the opportunity to contribute to the growth of African art. Art from the African continent is becoming increasingly popular and the next five-10 years will see greater demand. Our collection is a collaboration between experienced art market specialists and professional investment advisors who have a uniquely strong appreciation for art. Through various support initiatives, Scheryn will nurture young artistic talent and preserve the cultural legacy of African art whilst providing collectors with aesthetic rewards and long-term capital appreciation. We believe in the strength and cultural diversity of the continent’s artistic output and how it challenges the established norm of contemporary art.
A global platform has arisen for African artists to present their works to an international audience and artists who are engaging in traditional and cutting-edge techniques are becoming increasingly sought after. Locally established artists yet to gain international recognition are the most interesting to observe.
This is due to demand from international expatriate communities longing for artists from their homelands and global buyers looking for new trends. There has been a price appreciation of African art in the secondary market following growing interest in contemporary African art in the primary market. The 1:54 art fair expansion into New York and The Armory Show’s recent focus on the African continent are prime examples of this. The growth of the Ghanaian art market has also caught our eye.
Currently we have three collectors. Scheryn looks for collectors who share our passion for the sustainability of the African art market. They realize that joining the collection is a long-term commitment as we are not involved in speculation, flipping or trading of art. We look for collectors who are unsure where to start or do not have experience in African contemporary art. We also look for people who already have collections but who might not have sufficient time or money to manage them properly. We provide an opportunity to benefit from the aesthetic and financial return of their collection without the administrative worries.
The opening of the Museum Mohammed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat, Morocco, in 2014 and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town in 2017 are important developments. To have two museums that meet international museum standards in Northern Africa and Southern Africa is a great step on the path to cementing Africa’s place in the art world. This will ensure that the surge in interest in African art will be sustainable, not a fleeting fascination. However, the impact of Brexit will be hard to ignore as London is a large market for African Art. It will take two or three years to see what influence Brexit will have.”
Serge Tiroche
Co-founder of Art Vantage PCC Limited investment fund
Serge Tiroche co-founded the Tiroche DeLeon Collection with Russ DeLeon in 2011 with the objective of focusing on contemporary art markets across the developing world. The collection is owned by Art Vantage PCC Limited, an investment fund for investors. Through offices in Israel and Gibraltar, it concentrates on Africa, Latin America, South Asia, the Middle East, the Far East and Eastern Europe.
“We made a strategic decision to focus on contemporary art from emerging economies for three principle reasons. The first is economic; we found them to have better long-term investment prospects. The second is personal; we are more interested in exploring new cultures and identify more with art that has tradition and craft embedded. The third is social; with the budget we had in mind we could do very little in the developed world whereas in the developing one, we could be a significant platform to promote new artists and greater dialogue and exchange with the west.
We have six regional sub-portfolios that make up the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. The net asset value of the fund we manage, Art Vantage PCC Limited, is driven to a large extent by the performance of the artworks in the collection. Our investors are usually experienced high-net-worth individuals or family offices that are ready to invest a minimum of $500,000. Some have already had exposure to art but generally not in these markets. Others are new to art collecting/art investment and are interested in the access, education, artwork borrowing, financial diversification and lifestyle enhancement that we offer.
Africa, as one of the oldest art-making cultures that has influenced generations of western artists, seemed undervalued and underexposed. It represents approximately 15% of our total investments. Of the six sub collections, the African portfolio has been one of the best performing. The performance of the artworks, gross of fees and holding costs, increased by 42.8% in 2013, 10% in 2014 and 5.41% in 2015. We enjoyed huge returns in 2012-2013 primarily thanks to the increase in value of important artists such as El Anatsui and William Kentridge. In the last two years, the price levels reached for these works is such that the rate of increase in value must slow down to more realistic levels, as can be evidenced by the declining performance.”


Cécile Fakhoury
Gallerist in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
French-born Cécile Fakhoury opened her eponymous gallery in 2012 in Abidjan.
“The gallery’s mission is to promote contemporary art in the African continent by developing a locally-based dynamic structure. A space entirely dedicated to contemporary artwork exhibitions, it is a place for discoveries, exchanges and encounters. The gallery shows a new exhibition every two months and aims to broadcast the work of its artists abroad, in order to connect the African continent with the rest of the world and to reach a worldwide audience.
The gallery aims at promoting a better visibility of contemporary art in Africa and more specifically in the Ivory Coast by curating top-notch exhibitions. Cultural initiatives exist here but are few and far between, especially when it comes to commercial initiatives. My background working for galleries and auction houses in France and the US motivated me to develop an activity in that field when I moved to Abidjan.
With gallery actively supporting the production of artworks, the artists now have access to with a better range of material. Depending on the artwork, our price ranges between US$890 and US$55,125. The quality of the work had always been there but the resources and means were possibly lacking before.
The majority of our clientele is made up of foreign collectors. However, we are seeing an increasing number of Ivorian natives following our work and supporting our artists, which is very encouraging. From the beginning, one of our main goals was for our artworks to enter the local market. It is a real source of satisfaction when we make a sale knowing that the artwork will remain on the territory.
In spite of 10 complex years, the Ivory Coast remains a crossroads in West Africa. Abidjan is a flourishing city with a curious public, eager to receive a dynamic cultural scene and there is a growing interest for the contemporary art market here. When I started, I did not have the means to evaluate the possible success of the initiative but the gallery rapidly gained recognition. Nearly four years later, the results are very satisfying. During the first few months, we were already receiving nearly 600 visitors at the opening evenings. We also customarily host school visits for each of our exhibitions in order to raise awareness from a young age.
Over the past year, after participating in three fairs and two biennales, we have estimated art fairs to represent a third of our annual sales. We foresee a considerable increase for the year to come as we intend to participate in five fairs.”
Maria Varnava
Director of Tiwani Contemporary, London
“Founded in 2011, Tiwani Contemporary works with international contemporary artists. Tiwani Contemporary exhibits and represents international emerging and established artists, focussing on Africa and its diaspora. The gallery presents work through its exhibition programme and participation in art fairs. In addition to its commercial activities, Tiwani Contemporary runs a public programme, Art Connect, supported by the A.G. Leventis Foundation. This provides a platform for discussing contemporary artistic practice through publications, talks and projects.
I grew up in Lagos Nigeria and that is where a personal interest was developed that eventually lead to the birth of Tiwani. The visual language I grew up around was that of art from Nigeria added to that my family collected some of that art and from a young age I was lucky to meet and interact with some of the artists. I was living and working in the UK and was at a point that I was looking into my next professional steps. I wanted to launch a project that involved something I was deeply interested in and something that would be an interesting additional to the London art scene. In addition I envisioned this project would have along with the commercial element a strong element of collaboration, sharing of knowledge and experience. Indeed Tiwani in Yoruba loosely translates it belongs to us, it is ours. At this point I would like to mention that Bisi Silva the founder and director of CCA Lagos played a part in my taking the decision in launching the gallery and remains a mentor and trusted friend.
Along with the personal element just mentioned there was also the understanding that Tiwani would be occupying an important «space» and that visibility was something high on the agenda as was the understanding that an important space would be occupied and thus care would be taken in terms in term of the gallery’s internal and external associates, the artist stable created, how the gallery programme would develop and why a public programme was introduced early on. Finally there was a business element that came into play and the understanding that Tiwani would be an exiting challenge that if done properly and with hard work it could be a solid successful addition to the London and international art scene. The long term vision is for tiwani to remain part of this community for the long term, to grow, to built strong and long lasting careers for our artists and to extend its public programme activities. For this reason Tiwani’s primary focus will be artists practices because in the end that is what counts.
The average price varies between US$ 1-100,000
We work with an international collector base whose primary interests are contemporary art practices. In addition some of our collectors are looking into creating a truly global collection and thus our area of specialisation is of interest. We also work with collectors that are particularly interested in young and emerging artists and find our programme exciting in that respect.
It’s hard to differentiate because collectors you meet at fairs eventually become gallery sales so approximately let’s say 60% gallery and 40% art fairs.
I haven’t noticed any sharp changes in terms of creative expression per se but I have noticed more and more artists interested in exploring a wide range of media from performance to sound to video and so on. Additionally I have noticed that artists from the south are increasingly more interested in south to south conversations, are in a mind set that is at once local as it is global and does not look north to initiate a conversation.”