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Emerging Talents from
a Continent on the Move!

 Let Creativity Speak! - Marina Galvani - Curator, the World Bank Art Program

People forge ideas, people mold dreams, and people create art.  And that means all people, whether they are rich or poor.

The World Bank Art Program and its partners have organized and hosted a two–year-long series of events under the title Africa Now! to celebrate the creativity of African artists and designers. The program started in spring 2007 and will continue through April of  2009.

Africa Now! has featured several monographic art exhibitions, seminars and lectures. On December 9, the program culminated in a large art exhibition (for which a catalogue was published), and the screenings of a series of films at the World Bank Washington Campus.


Presence et absence 2,Anhele Etoundi Essamba, Cameroon.
Chromographic Print


From the series Faces
Beatrice Njoroge, Kenya
Acrylic on canvas

Africa Now! is organized in partnership with the World Bank Vice Presidency for Africa, the Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Senegal “Dak’Art” (a prestigious international forum for contemporary art with cultural roots in Africa since 1992), international aid agencies and NGOs, as well as artists and designers who work or live in the African continent, with selection preference given to emerging artists.

Artists and designers play an integral role in both the cultural development and the socio-economic process.  They are reformers.  They acutely observe, draw on their cultural strengths and traditions, and convey the changing social and technological dynamics through their respective mediums.

Featured in these exhibitions are artists who are contributing to the continent’s economic and cultural welfare.  Africa Now! is about visionaries and communicators who articulate the past and the present and represent a continent on the move.

Africa Now!  includes the following components:

  1. Traditional African Arts – 40 artworks. African art profoundly influenced the direction of world art and design in the 20th century. Rich ornamentation, straightforward geometry, deliberately simplified forms - these are trademarks of traditional African art that European artists seeking to break away from the naturalistic conventions adopted as their reference point. Picasso more than any other modern artist embraced this artistic style. African motifs and forms have been and continue to be a source of inspiration for a number of leading European and American designers. A selection of masterpieces of traditional African arts from the Bank’s own collection will focus on the historic roots of art and craft traditions in Africa. 
  2. Contemporary African Art – 273 artworks. Selections made from the permanent collection of the World Bank, from the Biennale of African Arts “Dak’Art ” and from individual artists living and working in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  3.  Deola-Sagoe-Nigeria.jpg

     Fashion, Deola Sagoe, Nigeria

    Contemporary African Design (Fashion, Graphic Arts and Industrial Design) – 55 objects. Selections includes clothing and jewelry designs from three fashion designers. Graphic arts/posters and industrial design/furniture is a subset to the “exhibition of design”.  This exhibition is organized in partnership with designers based in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Danish Center for Culture and Development, the New Africa Association (Denmark) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.
  4. Photography – 200 objects. Selections made from the work of ten young photographers living and working in Africa.
  5. Film Series – 6 films. The selection presents works by contemporary African movie directors and the documentary films series Africalls by wearehere!film (Barcelona, Spain) about six contemporary African artists.
  6. Catalogue - Designed by designer Tau Tavengwa and Laura Malan of Bell-Roberts Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa, and printed in South Africa, the 168-page, color catalogue is the first publication of this kind for the World Bank. For many artists and designers it will be the first chance at international exposure. The catalog is expected to attract the interest of scholars and collectors of African art and it will also inform artists throughout Africa about their respective ideas and successes and encourage creative exchange.  The catalogue includes essays by leading and emerging African experts on traditional and contemporary art, photography and design, as well as testimonies of individual artists, designers and art collectors.  Contact information for the artists is included under each catalogue entry. Download AFRICA NOW! Catalog (pdf format). Symposium - Building on the highly successful symposium organized by the Art Program in March 2008, Images of Hope, on the importance of culture in the debate on identity and development in Africa, the Art Program, in partnership with the World Bank Vice Presidency for Africa, has organized a symposium for internal and external audiences on the role of art in fostering communication and cultural identity.  See agenda.

Exhibition Venues

The Africa Now! exhibition is featured throughout the World Bank’s exhibition spaces (primarily the Main Complex, J and H buildings). To see the schedule of the Guided Tours covering the highlights of the exhibitions, please click here

Artists-in-residence Program

The Art Program has facilitated an artists-in-residence program at local artists’ studios and centers for the participating artists to promote international cultural exchange.  This year’s recipient was artist Petros Ghebrehiwot from Eritrea.  This residency was made possible by the generous partnership of the Lee Arts Center, of Arlington, Virginia, USA.  Without them this couldn’t have happened. During his month-long residency, Petros has worked at the ceramics studio at the Lee Arts Center to create an artwork that has been incorporated into the permanent collection of the World Bank.  The World Bank Art Program is extremely grateful to Petros and to the Lee Arts Center for this exciting partnership.


Sillouette éffacée Bullets,
Freddy Tsimba,
Democratic Republic of  Congo


Related Exhibit Material

African Artists Debate the Role of Art in Development
Purchase Artworks from Africa Now ! exhibition
AFRICA NOW! Symposium & Exhibition Opening Agenda
AFRICA NOW! Exhibition Poster

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