Innovative Black Art Was in High Regard at Art Basel 2021

The artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Image: Courtesy of The Bishop Gallery

This past weekend, lovers of art from all backgrounds convened at Art Basel, after a year-long absence due to the pandemic. 

Created in 1970, Art Basel is an international art fair, showcasing advancements made in art across the globe, that takes place in three locations: Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach, Florida, and Hong Kong.S Art connoisseurs and admirers catapulted the event into a phenomenon that many aspire to witness and participate in by solely attending or showcasing their own work.

This year, Black artists from all over were heavy in attendance with stunning pieces on display. This was largely due to a shift in qualification requirements which allowed for more Black visibility throughout the weekend. Here are a few events and galleries that illuminated the beauty of Black art in its totality. 

Afriart Gallery Booth

Founded in 2002, the Afriart gallery is one of the leading contemporary art galleries shining the work of African artists. At Art Basel Miami, Afriart presented a solo booth by Sungi Mlengeya at the gallery’s debut participation at Art Basel Miami Beach titled Unsettled Minds.

Sungi Mlengeya was born in 1991 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is a self-taught painter whose figurative portraiture is a commemoration of women who surround her. She hopes to show her subjects and audience the freedom and power they possess, by capturing them in an indomitable light and suspending them in infinite spaces filled with possibilities.

Unsettled Minds (acrylic on canvas, 2021), Sunni Mlengeya. Image: courtesy of Afriart Gallery

Our Friend Jean NFT Auction

Curated by The Bishop Gallery and hosted by Triller, the Our Friend Jean live auction experience brought together the works of Jean-Michael Basquiat in a digital and physical immersive experience. Taken place at BLK Studios, the variety of NFT drops available were made accessible on the Triller marketplace along with exclusive previews and purchase opportunities onsite. Fat Joe, DJ D-Nice, French Montana, and Busta Rhymes were a few of the names in attendance that evening. 

Triller and The Bishop Gallery in partnership with NYX Professional Makeup will tour eight HBCU schools to present Our Friend, Jean-HBCU Tour. The tour will kick off in early 2022 and land in eight cities, where Alexis Adler will appear to share the works from the Alexis Adler Archive, featuring works from Basquiat and potential art donations to the schools.

Image: courtesy of Triller

Own Your Masters Event Highlighting Belizean Art led by Rapper and Politician Shyne Barrow

In collaboration with United Masters and Ally Bank, Shyne, the former rapper and member of the Belizean House of Representatives, hosted a dialogue that highlighted Belizean art. Artists included in the conversation included Pen Cayetano, Alex Sanker and Jahneli.  

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