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This Gallery is Dedicated to Celebrating Contemporary Black Artists

Black artists are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Image: Matt Smith Photographer / Shutterstock

Black artists have been dismissed and rejected from the art world for years simply because of the color of their skin. Now art galleries dedicated to showcasing their work are popping up worldwide to give them the recognition they deserve finally. Harmer Contemporary Art Gallery in London is one of them.

The History Behind Ethnic-Specific Galleries

Museums dedicated to displaying underrepresented groups are significant in the modern art world. There have been several times when Museums have tried to appear to be more inclusive without having any effect. In the 1960s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held the exhibition Harlem on my Mind: Cultural Capital of Black America, 1900-68. The show did not contain a single piece of art by a Black Artist. The ordeal led to a group of Black artists forming the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) to protest against the Met.

Two Centuries of Black American Art, which was in 1976, was the first large-scale exhibition of African-American artists. It was only forty-seven years ago. The show inspired the documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light, released on HBO. It aims to examine two centuries of overlooked art by Black artists and the path they forged for the contemporary Black Artist. It explores the possibility that the rise in contemporary black artists is because museums viewed it as a marketing trend after the height of the BLM movement. Artists like Amy Sherald gained popularity after she did the Obama portraits. However, in the documentary, Sherald makes a point to shut this view down. Instead, she says their work is ‘the best work and the most relevant work.’

Because of instances like this, ethnically specific museums are so important as they allow Black Artists to control the narrative of their work. Harmer Contemporary Art Gallery is ‘an emerging blue-chip art gallery specializing in contemporary art,’ which ‘develops underrepresented groups and African artists in the diaspora to global audiences.’

The Artists

Here are some of the artists the gallery work with.

Sophia Oshodin

Sophia Oshodin is a figurative artist based in London. She uses bold colors to capture daily life. The Saatchi gallery points out that she uses gazing expressions to highlight the absence of black figures in Western Art.

She has been included in exhibitions, such as We are nothing without Stories, and a solo exhibition at Harmer Gallery, Battle Grounds.

Battle Grounds consisted of 10 figurative paintings. Each reflects on changes and human involvement with the issues of color about social and political issues. The works were from her ongoing series “Colour and Imagination,” which explores how color impacts human behaviors and, at the same time, is used as a weapon against progress in the 21st century. Some of her paintings shown in her solo exhibition were the series Talking To The Ancestors and Test of Time.

Her upcoming exhibition is Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead Heath, available from 11th – 14th May.

Esther Oyeyemi

Esther Oyeyemi is a Nigerian artist who works with acrylic and explores the Yoruba mythology of twinhood. Her posts on Instagram are often captioned with a quote or poem.

Her work has been displayed at exhibitions such as The Festival of Colour in Lagos and Art Arising Virtual Exhibition.

She recently announced that she would participate in the exhibition The Show Will Go On at Harmer Gallery. It will run from April 15th – May 15th.

Ndubuzo Moses

Ndubuzo Moses is an artist who uses acrylic and oil to create his artwork. He draws inspiration from his family background, his history, and the world he lives in.

Modhafest 2022 Virtual Exhibition and Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) International Conference Centre are some of the exhibitions which have displayed his artwork.

He has also announced that his work will be a part of The Show Will Go On at Harmer Gallery.

Rebecca Shakespeare Armstrong

Rebecca Shakespeare Armstrong lives in the US and has Jamaican heritage. She wants her artwork to ‘spark conversations amongst onlookers who may have forgotten the importance of self-worth and deepening how and why people present themselves the way they do in the public eye.’

Recreation Centre and Arts Wave and a solo exhibition, Under The SEE, are some examples of where she displayed her work.

Harmer Gallery will present her work with the other artists in The Show Will Go On.

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