African artists are coming around for dinner

Group exhibition “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” in New York celebrates the growing impact of African art and artists on the global stage.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?  is an exhibition at New York’s Richard Taittinger Gallery curated by artist and African-art historian, Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi. The exhibition, the name of which is a nod to the 1967 Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier film, is borne out of Nigerian artist Chika Okeke-Agulu’s observation: “Folks can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that African artists have now taken and secured their seat at the dinner table, invited or not!”

The exhibition is also prompted the fact that this year marks an important milestone in African art, with Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor's All the Worlds Futures making a splash at the 56th Venice Biennale. Enwezor, the first Biennale curator of African descent, used the platform to showcase artists from Africa, rallying together 136 artists from 53 countries. 89 of them, including Nigerian artist Karo Akpokiere, were showing at the Biennale for the first time.

The crop of contemporary artists questions the understanding of “Africanness” as either a cultural signifier or an aesthetic language.

We wanted to come up with an exhibition that is about Africa but at the same time not about Africa. When one thinks of the works of contemporary African artists, there’s always a certain kind of value attached to these works, what I call 'the burden of Africanism'. - Nzewi

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? celebrates the growing impact of African art on the global stage and serves as a crucial platform for artists to gain visibility at the international dinner table. This exhibition aims to remedy the relative lack of exposure of African artists with a lineup of 12 artists working across all mediums, who aren’t well known outside of their respective communities.

Works by Halida Boughriet, Gopal Dagnogo, Sam Hopkins, Onyeka Ibe, Amina Menia, and Aida Muluneh (who will show at Cape Town’s AVA Gallery from 10 September – 10 October) are currently on show.

All photos are courtesy of the artists and the Richard Taittinger Gallery. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” runs through to 23 August at the Richard Taittinger Gallery,