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5 Women Igniting Contemporary African Art

Posted in Inside Scoop by Aimee Morris on 14th November 2017

Touria El Glaoui has been named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in Africa, and by New African as one of the most influential Africans in business. She is the Founding Director of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which takes place in London, New York and Marrakech every year. Touria has spoken widely on contemporary African art and women in leadership around the world. Who better to have on our Rise Art Prize panel for Africa & the Middle East? Here are 3 things you didn’t know about Touria:


Photo (c) Victoria-Birkinshaw


What do you love about art?  

Art makes you feel it all. It’s like my pilates class, it makes me bend and stretch in all directions both physically and mentally, but once I’m done I feel anew.


Ed Cross Fine Art Gallery at 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London.

Photo © Katrina Sorrentino (Katrina Lillian)


Artwork that first blew your mind?  

Number one will always be the work of my artist father. Then the paintings and drawings that depict Moroccan life and culture by Matisse.


Les feux du Quadrige by Hassan El Glaoui


What’s your Favourite art ‘-ism’?

Feminism and Womanism. These movements have inspired, and continue to inspire, some badass work by female artists.


Sitor Senghor Gallery at 1.54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London.

Photo © Katrina Sorrentino (Katrina Lillian)


Hopskipping from this badass pioneer of African art (who is just about to get stuck into the judging process), we bring you 4 female South African artists who have caught our eye over the course of the Rise Art submissions.



Kirsten’s domestic scenes have an uncanny, slightly off-key, feel to them. Her deep colours and strong lines transform snapshots of ordinary domestic life into semi-sinister scenes. Not only is her subject matter striking, but her quirky paintings are also technically accomplished.


Pool Party by Kirsten Lilford


2. Michaela Rinaldi

Michaela paints abstracted figurative works that feature acidic colours and elongated figures. She works charcoal, ink, pastel and gold leaf into her paintings to create rich, layered imagery. Michaela’s intriguing pieces have a meditative quality to them that inspires contemplation.


Shadow Dancing by Michaela Rinaldi



Joanne paints women in misty, ethereal settings. The artist, who has a background in Sculpture, finds the curves and form of the female torso fascinating. But it’s not just the physical beauty of women Joanne aims to depict; she also tries to capture the shifting moods and challenges of being a woman.


Haute Couture 2 by Joanne McGilvray


4. Danielle Hewlett

Danielle paints expressive portraits that, rather than offer realistic depictions of her subjects, reimagine their energy in paint. She lives by Oscar Wilde’s saying, that ““no great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist”. Danielle’s unique style is alluring; she captures not just the outward appearance of her sitters, but also something closer to their interior state.


Contagonist by Danielle Hewlett


Check out our latest RIse Art Prize news >>



Leila Fanner's African Dream(scape)

Posted in In the Studio by Aimee Morris on 10th November 2017

Leila Fanner's metaphysical paintings are interwoven with dreams and personal dream symbols. The South African artist captures on her canvases a spiritual view of the African environs and characters that surround her in the picturesque Riebeek Valley, 75km north-east of Cape Town. Leila's paintings are held in private collections in South Africa, Germany, France, Kenya, the UK and the US. Her work has also been featured in British Vogue Gallery. We can't wait to learn more about this standout Rise Art Prize applicant. 



When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

When I was very young, around 4 yrs old, I was an artist. During my school years I became fearful of struggling to make ends meet  - like my artist mother. So I ran away from my truth and into the corporate world for a while.


Awake in a Dream by Leila Fanner


Tell us a bit about your creative process.

It starts with a vision accompanied by an emotion. I can't really create without those two active within me. With my abstracts, I start with layers of colour: I draw some elements, create texture and finally make marks and get into the details.



You have interesting heritage, having been born in California to South African and African American parents. How does your background come into your work?

I have moved house around 38 times in my 48 yrs. I think the emphasis I tend to make on a dreamlike safe haven - a peaceful garden world where nature dominates, is my way of expressing a desire to find my true home - a place to feel completely accepted and at peace.


Kinds Daughter and the Saddle Bills by Leila Fanner


Depicting a central black figure that is more of a being (a space), rather than a human, is how I explore the notion that being is more important than having - which is something you can’t help learning when you never have a sense of home or roots.


Faith by Leila Fanner 


What do you love about your studio space?

It has a gorgeous view of the Drakenstein Mountains. There are French doors that let lots of light in, and it's in a peaceful little village on a quiet untarred road. I am truly blessed to have it all to myself.



Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?

At the moment it’s the series At The Table that I’ve had to put on hold, as I’m in the middle of moving to my new studio. I have ideas continuously percolating up waiting to have life breathed into them - and I'm toying with sculpture ideas as well. Exciting.


 Eve Black Series II by Leila Fanner


What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

I have a new one every few weeks! Right now it’s: "The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." (Eckhart Tolle)


Watering the Garden by Leila Fanner


What are your aspirations for the future?

I am focusing on being more fully present here and now to the beauty of this moment - no matter what it brings. The future is made up of all the 'now's I have lived before, so this is the only time and the only way I can affect the future.


Browse Leila's Works >>


2 Days Left to Apply. What are you waiting for?


Five Questions with Neo Maditla

Posted in Inside Scoop by Aimee Morris on 08th November 2017

Neo Maditla is Editor in Chief of Design Indaba online, South Africa's leading design and creativity platform. features some of the best talent on the African continent and from around the globe. Not only is Neo passionate about African art, but she's also a seasoned writer with experience in print, TV and online. We just had to have her on the Rise Art Prize panel for Africa and the Middle East. 



1. What’s your favourite art gallery?

I love the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town. It has a massive collection and I always go there, alone or with friends, and I just spend hours on end looking through the work. It's located in massive public park where one can go for a picnic, visit the restaurant or even take a stroll down Government Avenue so see the monument commissioned by Design Indaba in honour of Archbishop Tutu called Arch for Arch.


Cape Town's Iziko South African National Gallery.


2. What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

Live each day as if it is your last. Not sure who originally said that but this has been a guiding principle in my life and work where I always ask myself: should I not wake up tomorrow, would any of this matter? If not I try to make the changes and if yes, then it means I am in a happy place, like right now.


Arch for Arch, commissioned by Design Indaba in honour of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.


3. If you could host any 3 people (living or dead) for dinner, who would they be?

Amy Winehouse because her music impacted me so much in my early 20s and only understanding some of the songs fully now that I am older; my late mom Paulinah Maditla because she was wise beyond her years and I would like her to know I finally understand all the lessons she taught me; and South African poet Mbali Vilakazi, as I find her work really moving and think the four of us would have the best conversations.


One of Neo's favourite pieces by Lionel Davis at the Iziko National Gallery.


4. What’s your favourite art world trend right now?

That young artists are finally getting the attention they deserve and doing work that challenges the white gaze as well as tired tropes on what is / isn’t “African art”. That discussion is so boring. I love seeing, hearing and being part of those discussions - both on the continent and in the diaspora.


5. Who are some of your favourite artists?

Mario Macilau's black and white photography is stirring and moves me every time.


(c) Mario Macilau


Nkuli Mlangeni is another of my favourite artists. She won the Design Indaba’s MBOISA (Most Beautiful Object in South Africa) last year. I own one of her Sankara rugs, but I want more because she found a way of effortlessly bringing the art of weaving into the contemporary space and making it relevant to a younger market while also helping to create livelihoods for the weavers.


One of Nkuli Mlangeni's rugs.


And then there's Serge Alain Nitegeka, a Burundian artist whose work explores migration. I love the way he fuses sculpture and painting. 


Colour & Form in BLACK by Serge Alain Nitegeka.



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