Afroprophetic: Art transforming minds and nature

An exhibition curated by Arete Arts Foundation

  • Event date 6–9 June 2023
  • Event location London
This summer, Christie’s is delighted to present Afroprophetic: Art transforming minds and nature, an exhibition curated by Arete Arts Foundation. We are proud to support the Foundation and the series of events celebrating the recent launch of their book, which is the namesake and basis of this exhibition. Copies of the book are available for purchase during the view.

Works on view explore the impact of climate change on Africa’s natural resources and biodiversity, as well as humanity’s relationship with nature. Artists that have contributed to the book are John Akomfrah RA, El Anatsui, Dr Serge Attukwei Clottey, Sokari Douglas Camp CBE, Romuald Hazoumè, Abdoulaye Konaté, Wangechi Mutu, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Barthélémy Toguo.

Visit Christie’s in London from 6 to 9 June for this fantastic showcase—entry is free and open to all.

Artworks on view

Viewing information

London Sale Room

Christie’s London
8 King Street
London, SW1Y 6QT

6 – 9 June 2023
6 June, 9am-8pm
7 June, 9am-5pm
8 June, 9am-5pm
9 June, 9am-5pm

Sophie Braine | Arete Arts Foundation
+44 (0)75 9591 9000

Hardcover book | ‘Afroprophetic: Art Transforming Minds and Nature’

Profits from book sales are donated to Arete Arts Foundation to directly benefit grassroots projects and artists

Buy the book
Afroprophetic book cover

About Arete Arts Foundation

Arete Arts

Arete Arts Foundation provides platforms to amplify the voices and messages of contemporary African artists through exhibitions and small private events. Through its foundation, they provide small grant support for creative initiatives across the African continent that use art to connect and engage people and advance their social and environmental impact. Arete selects art projects which deepen their relationships and which create more inclusive and sustainable communities.

About the artists

Coralie Rabadan

Abdoulaye Konaté

Abdoulaye Konaté was born into a family of intellectuals in Diré, Mali, in 1953. Having completed his formal training in painting at Mali’s Institut National des Arts de Bamako, he then moved to Cuba to study at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. In the 1990s, adopting fabric as a readily available and affordable medium that can be used ‘as if it’s oil paint or acrylic’, he began creating the colourful, large-scale textile installations that he is now known for. He defines his artistic approach as following along “…two well-defined lines of thought. On the one hand there is the purely aesthetic side, influenced by the nature and cultural traditions of Mali, my country, and that determines the colours and the materials of my work. On the other hand there is a more spiritual side, which stems from the desire to investigate and describe through my work the human suffering, which reflects itself on the relations between states, politics, the environment, society and the family. Addressing very urgent issues such as AIDS, fanaticism and environmental threats, my works draw attention to the problems that plague the modern man and that are caused by a fundamental lack of tolerance in Africa as elsewhere in the world.”


John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah RA is an internationally acclaimed British artist and filmmaker. Starting with his first film in 1986 (made with long-standing collaborators David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, with whom he co-founded the influential Black Audio Film Collective in 1982), Akomfrah has investigated a wide range of themes, from urban unrest to migration, history, post-colonialism and climate change, in addition to portraits of cultural icons and historical figures. The powerful impact of his work can be attributed to one of its most defining features – the use of multiple large-scale screens to create multi-channel, immersive installations that combine sound and imagery. He frequently recontextualises archival material by editing it to create surprising new juxtapositions, or by combining it with original footage. The end result leaves viewers free to draw their own conclusions about its message.

Akomfrah was born in Accra, Ghana, in 1957, to parents who were anti-colonial activists, and the family fled the country to avoid political persecution while he was still a boy. He grew up in London, in the shadows of Battersea Power Station, and it is his reflections on these early experiences that often inform the themes behind his work. His seminal 2015 three-screen installation Vertigo Sea (2015), for example – the first of a trilogy of films – fused archival material with contemporary imagery to create a picture of our relationship with the sea, spanning colonisation, migration and conflict, via an investigation of the emergence of the whaling industry, which ran parallel with the transatlantic slave trade and its dependence on ships to transport huge numbers of Africans to America.

Pascale Marthine Tayou

Pascale Marthine Tayou

Pascale Marthine Tayou was born in 1966 in Nkongsamba, a small city in a fertile region of Cameroon. Having originally studied to become a lawyer, his epiphany came in the 1990s, during a time of social and political upheaval in West Africa. He chose to become an artist instead, describing the transition as a process of purification: ‘In the beginning … I was full of garbage and I just tried to clean myself.’ As he embarked on his creative journey he also changed his first and middle names, adding an ‘e’ to give them a feminine ending as a way of distancing himself from traditional notions of artistic authorship and male/female ascriptions. This provides a form of shorthand for the attitude that underlies his art, too; as he says, ‘The work I do is playful, but I try to do it seriously’.

Tayou attributes the inspiration and meaning behind his aesthetic practice to ‘the human being, in all its diversity.... I look at life in general, I focus on the daily life of the man that I am, his ups and downs: his passions’. His goal with his art is to urge others to join him in this exploration – to ‘explore our sincerity and our own truths. To be in agreement with oneself; the truth.’

Romauld Hazoume

Romuald Hazoumè

The Yoruba artist Romuald Hazoumè was born in 1962 in Porto Novo, in the Republic of Benin, where he still lives and works. He grew up in a Catholic family, but his ancestors included a babalawo, or high priest, of the Ifá oracle, who had served at the court of the King of Porto, and Hazoumé maintains a strong sense of his dual identity. Although his work expresses elements of both cultures, it is his ancestral culture that underpins his sense of purpose as an artist. “I find that inspiration is a state of mind that rarely happens to me, and I can’t provoke it or fight it when it does occur…. I have always considered that, as an artist, I am at the service of my community. I am a Yoruba, from an ethnic group in Nigeria, and among our people, sculptors are known as aré, who specialise in the making of masks. When a king has an excellent sculptor, he can send his sculptor to another king who asks for him and so this sculptor settles there. This means that his son and his legacy will go to another kingdom. It’s a journey which continues to bring the culture of one people to another. I am an heir to this tradition.”

Serge Attukwei Clottey

Serge Attukwei Clottey

Dr Serge Attukwei Clottey is a Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist working between Accra and Los Angeles. Born in 1985 in Accra, he attended the Ghanatta College of Art and Design, followed by a period at the Guignard University of Art of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Clottey’s father is a painter, and Clottey himself had focused on traditional figurative painting prior to moving to South America. Upon his return, his focus shifted as he began looking for ways to tackle the major issues facing his own country.

“I wanted to look at waste management, and then I began looking at climate change, which is how I first got interested in working with the plastic gallon jugs and developed the concept of ‘Afrogallonism’. I’m developing it as a concept and a movement that can be explored globally as a means of changing trash into treasure. It’s about the future of globalisation and identity.”

Sokari Douglas Camp

Sokari Douglas Camp CBE

The internationally renowned sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp CBE creates sculptural works primarily in steel. She ‘cuts and sews’ pieces of steel, welding, cutting and bending them together to make metal ‘pictures’. These often large-scale sculptures focus mainly on socio-political issues and the history of the African diaspora, referring frequently to her Nigerian roots, while also encompassing contemporary international issues – a complexity of meaning that Douglas Camp has described as ‘my British-ness, my Kalabari-ness, my Nigerian-ness. It’s conscious of the environment. There are so many layers as to who I am and what my work is about.’

Douglas Camp was born in 1958 in Buguma, in the Niger Delta – a region that has been profoundly altered by the discovery and extraction of oil. After moving to the UK for schooling, she maintained her connection to her birth country, returning every year to her hometown. Over the years she saw Buguma become increasingly polluted by the dumping of petroleum waste, and blighted by constantly billowing flare stations that obscured the sun during the day and created a perpetual glare at night. The effects on the natural ecosystem were obvious, with the degradation of land, air and water, but the people of the region were also affected, with many being forced to migrate.

Yinka Shoniba

Yinka Shonibare CBE RA

Yinka Shonibare CBE RA was born in London in 1962, then moved to Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to the UK as a teenager, later studying Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art, followed by an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, in 1991. He is now one of the UK’s most highly regarded contemporary artists.

Shonibare’s practice draws upon iconic imagery and themes in Western history, art history and literature in order to challenge existing theories regarding Africa and Europe’s intertwined economic and political histories, as well as how we define cultural and national identity in a globalised world. He describes himself as a ‘post-colonial hybrid’, represented most obviously by his use of brightly coloured ‘African’ batik – a fabric that was, in fact, mass-produced in Holland in the nineteenth century, then exported to Africa. This material serves as a powerful metaphor for various forms of migration, having ‘the ability to be Dutch, Indonesian and African at the same time. For me, the fabrics are a symbol of cross-cultural connections, which I use to explore the complex relationship between Africa and Europe – particularly the complexities of contemporary hyphenated identities.’

Main images:
Studio assistants in Serge Attukwei Clottey’s studio, Ghana / Photo: Nii Ozedmna
Yinka Shonibare CBE RA - Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London / Photo by Stephen White and Co. / All rights reserved, DACS

Highlights carousel:
Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London / Photo © Romuald Hazoumè
© Sokari Douglas Camp / Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London / Photo © Jonathan Greet
Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London / Photo by Stephen White and Co. / All rights reserved, DACS
© John Akomfrah; Courtesy the Artist and Lisson Gallery

Artist portraits:
Pascale Marthine Tayou at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 2015 / Photo: Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty Images / The Serpentine Gallery
Yinka Shonibare in his studio, 2014 / Photo by James Mollison. Courtesy Yinka Shonibare CBE RA and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
Sokari Douglas Camp in her studio / Photo: Jonathan Greet
Abdoulaye Konaté / Photo © Coralie Ramadan
Serge Attukwei Clottey / Photo: Stefan Simchowitz
Romuald Hazoumè / Photo: Jonathan Greet
John Akomfrah in his London studio, 2016 © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery. Photo: Jack Hems