Mozambique is perhaps one of the most exciting countries on the African continent art-wise, and underrated at that. It’s rare that every single artist that I encounter from a country is strikingly, unbelievably good. So my biggest highlight for the African Art Fair is the work of Ernesto Shikhani. He is less known than his colleague Malangatana, of whom I’d written, but deserves all the accolades. His art is politically charged, spooky, yet fun in an offbeat kind of way, it’s beautiful and vibrant, full of bold color decisions, and yet posesses a haunting ugliness that makes it all the more enticing.
Born into a family of farmers, Shikhani enjoyed a prolific career, and was able to enhance his gift through travelling across the world: he had studied in Europe and even in the USSR. But that richness of experience did not limit his distinctiveness, and from a distance he only established his artistic identity as thoroughly mozambican. This is something that so often happens to artists away from their home shores. I can relate, and if I could afford it, I’d fill my walls with Shikhani’s works.
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