My essay was an analysis of post-colonial theory in relation to Sonia Boyce, a British born multi-media artist of Afro-Caribbean descent. I had spent innumerable hours totally immersed in the decades-long struggle for recognition experienced by Boyce and other members of the Caribbean Arts Movement and the Black British Arts Movement.
Attracted to the dynamic explosion of urban development across West Africa, as reflected in the art of a younger generation, this region quickly became the young Gallery owner’s focus. Bell’s next trip was to Porto-Novo, Benin, a former French colony. He was in search of the locally renowned Agbodjelou family – known to have been practicing studio photography for generations.
Bell reflects that the show has “provoked some fiery responses”. Occasional hiccups do happen. Such as when Bell set about to exhibit sculptures by the Mozambique based artist Goncalo Mabunda. Made from a plethora of weapons recovered in 1992, such as AK-47s, rocket launchers and pistols, Bell received a call from customs questioning why 600kg of arms had arrived in the UK addressed to him.
Earlier this year Somerset House hosted 1:54, London’s first Contemporary African Art Fair. Coinciding with the Frieze Art Fair, its Moroccan founder Touria El Glaoui believes that “given the right platform, there is no reason not to see the same rise in interest we have recently witnessed in the Asian art market.”