8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About

Let’s explore the diverse world of contemporary African art through the lenses of eight remarkable artists, each contributing a unique perspective and narrative to the vibrant fabric of creativity emerging from the continent.  In this article, together we will learn about the various art movements, styles, and themes emerging from Africa, which are contributing to a broader understanding of global contemporary art.

Gor Soudan

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Gor Soudan
Image courtesy of ARTLabAfrica
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Gor Soudan
Image courtesy of Circle Art Gallery

Gor Soudan, a conceptual artist residing in Kisumu and Nairobi, employs his craft to subtly engage with pressing political and social issues, infusing urban culture into his work. By transforming everyday materials into touching artworks, Soudan offers satirical observations on Africa’s rapid socio-political transformation. One of his most popular projects, “Bubbles & Shells,” delves into an ontological history using linear installations and natural materials, reflecting his eclectic approach to storytelling. Soudan has also been using acrylic ink on paper, while continuing to play with forms in his artwork.

Chéri Samba

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Chéri Samba
Images courtesy of MAGNIN-A
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Chéri Samba
Images courtesy of MAGNIN-A

Chéri Samba, a prominent figure in the “Popular painting” movement of the Democratic Republic of Congo, captures the essence of Kinshasa’s bustling streets through vibrant and illustrative paintings. Addressing social issues such as AIDS and corruption, Samba’s works incorporate graphic narrative and text bubbles, inviting viewers to ponder the complexities of contemporary Congolese society. Through self-portraiture, Samba assumes the role of a direct reporter, embodying the spirit of his ideas and personal narrative within his art.

Zanele Muholi

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Zanele Muholi
Images courtesy of Yancey Richardson
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Zanele Muholi
Images courtesy of Yancey Richardson

Zanele Muholi, a South African visual activist and photographer, documents the lives of black LGBTQIA+ individuals in South Africa, challenging stereotypes and discrimination through their arresting portraits. As an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen, Muholi’s work transcends mere documentation, serving as a powerful tool for advocacy and social change. With a commitment to re-writing the visual history of South Africa’s marginalized communities, Muholi’s art stands as a testament to resilience and visibility.

Salah Elmur

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Salah Elmur
Images courtesy of Black Art & Design
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Salah Elmur
Images courtesy of Black Art & Design

Salah Elmur, a Sudanese painter, filmmaker, and author, draws inspiration from his rich cultural heritage and childhood memories to create evocative artworks. With a penchant for heavy symbolism and vivid color combinations, Elmur’s paintings offer intimate glimpses into human relationships and daily life in Sudan. By infusing elements of surrealism and nostalgia, Elmur invites viewers to explore the nuances of memory and identity within his captivating compositions.

Shenaz Mahomed

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Shenaz Mahomed
Images courtesy of Curating Culture Blog
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Shenaz Mahomed
Images courtesy of Curating Culture Blog

Shenaz Mahomed, a paper-cut artist based in Pretoria, explores themes of identity and culture through her detailed and precise hand-cut designs. With a focus on celebrating blackness and challenging conventional racial representations, Mahomed’s work serves as a platform for introspection and dialogue. Alongside her artistic pursuits, she actively engages in curatorial roles and participates in prestigious art competitions throughout South Africa, further cementing her influence in the contemporary art scene.

Cole Ndelu

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Cole Ndelu
Images courtesy of CherryDeck
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Cole Ndelu
Images courtesy of CherryDeck

Cole Ndelu, a conceptual portrait and fashion photographer hailing from Johannesburg, uses her lens to counteract mainstream representations of black people and Africa. Through her imagery, Ndelu celebrates black identity and confronts prevailing stereotypes, offering a fresh perspective on blackness and beauty. Having graduated from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography with a degree in Visual Communication, Ndelu brings a blend of skill and passion to her craft, contributing to a more diverse and inclusive portrayal of black lives.

Joël Andrianomearisoa

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Joël Andrianomearisoa
Images courtesy of Tique
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Joël Andrianomearisoa
Images courtesy of Tique

Joël Andrianomearisoa, a Malagasy artist based between Paris, Magnat-l’Étrange, and Antananarivo, delves into the complexities of human emotion and experience through his delicate artworks. Representing the first-ever Madagascar Pavilion at the 58th Venice Art Biennale, Andrianomearisoa’s work explores the nuances of existence, inviting viewers to contemplate the beauty and fragility of life. As the founder and artistic director of Hakanto Contemporary, he champions the work of fellow artists in Madagascar, fostering a thriving creative community.

Ammar Bouras

8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Ammar Bouras
Images courtesy of Saatchi Art
8 Contemporary Artists in Africa That You Should Know About: Ammar Bouras
Images courtesy of Saatchi Art

Ammar Bouras, a contemporary artist living and working in Algiers, integrates photography into mixed-media artworks with a critical approach to politics and society. Addressing issues of power, identity, and social justice, Bouras’s installations serve as poignant reflections of the human condition. Recognized for his commitment to discourse through art, Bouras’s work challenges viewers to confront uncomfortable truths and engage in meaningful dialogue about the world we inhabit.


Through their diverse practices and creations, these eight artists invite us to explore the complexities of identity, culture, and society, sparking conversations and inspiring change. Through painting, photography, and multimedia installations, they continue to push the boundaries of artistic expression, leaving an indelible mark on the global art landscape.

If you’re interested in digital painting, illustration, photography or movie editing, check out our products that would elevate your working style. With our pen tablets and pen displays, we are here for your art and creations.


Author: Zeynep Alpay Zeynep Alpay is a freelance multidisciplinary artist and illustrator based in Düsseldorf, Germany. Their work encompasses illustrations, animations, paper cut-outs, and traditional artwork. For more information or to see more of Zeynep’s works, check out their portfolio https://www.behance.net/zeynepalpay

About the author:

Zeynep Alpay is a freelance multidisciplinary artist and illustrator based in Köln, Germany. Their work encompasses illustrations, animations, paper cut-outs, and traditional artwork.

For more information or to see more of Zeynep’s works, check out their portfolio, their Instagram, or their Linkedin.

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