The Best Booths at 1-54’s Marrakech Art Fair, Including Kehinde Wiley’s First Painting Created in Africa

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s Moroccan edition is back at the newly refurbished Mamounia hotel, which is this year celebrating its 100th anniversary. This edition, the fair’s fourth in Marrakech, opened yesterday to the press and will run through February 12.

Some 60 artists and 20 exhibitors are participating. Eight galleries are from the African continent, four of them are based in Morocco. And there are 12 newcomers to the fair, including Foreign Agent (Lausanne, Switzerland), HOA Galeria (São Paulo), Superposition Gallery (Miami Beach), and Templon (Paris). 

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The event may look intimate, but it has a lot to offer, from figurative paintings to textile-based works and mutlimedia installations. “Marrakech is the highest point in the country and the meeting point of three cultures: African, Arabic and French. There is a lot happening during the fair, which makes it the perfect time to discover the city,” said founding director Touria El Glaoui, who started her career in the banking industry before launching 1-54 in 2013 in London. The Moroccan iteration was born five years later.   

In front of La Mamounia, which means “safe haven” in Arabic, two special projects lead to the fair. One is Still Free, a performance by Portuguese painter Francisco Vidal, who asks visitors to sit before him. (This Is Not a White Cube gallery, from Lisbon and Luanda, brought the work to the fair.) It’s Vidal’s way of attempting to turn a social interaction into a form of art. Closer to the 1-54 entrance, there’s a motorcycle designed by Belgian artist Eric Van Hove, who reinterprets the industrial icons of the 21st century using a wide variety of craft materials and techniques drawn from the Maghreb.

Below, a look at six of the best offerings at 1-54.


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