Black Contemporary Art Online

Black Contemporary Art Online

Aesthetica teams up with ISE-DA – a trailblazing platform promoting Black visual arts culture – to highlight the best digital exhibitions, online galleries and videos. Established for young creatives, collectors and enthusiasts of Black African descent, ISE-DA aims to cultivate a pioneering new generation of creatives who are interested, invested and informed about art across the Diaspora. February is Black History Month in the US; many of their selected links are essential resources to educate and inspire.

AfroSoul | Digital Exhibition

Africa. The Caribbean. USA. Afrosoul celebrates an emerging, global 21st century African Diasporic visual culture. Featured above is work by Cuban artist Rene Pena (b. 1957), whose photography is characterised by stark contrasts and a focus on individuality. Other creatives include Whitfield Lovell (b. 1959), whose renowned installations incorporate portraits of anonymous African Americans from between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement. Curator Ludlow E. Bailey explains: “All the artists in this exhibition are making significant contributions in the writing of a new narrative about Black identity, Afrocentricity, Black joy and empowerment. The elevation and celebration of Black Culture are acts of resilience and rebellion against global racism.”

ISE-DA says: “This exhibition displays the variety of Black contemporary art across the diaspora. I particularly love the striking photography by Cuban artist Rene Pena.” – Adefolakunmi (Fola) Adenugba, Founder, Business Development, and Strategist.

Delfin Finley | Artist to Watch

“I want to represent every person of colour who must carry the weight of their violent history. I’m trying to look ahead, feel empowered to move forward, but never forgetting.” Delfin Finley (b. 1994) is a painter recognised for his realist figurative portraits. The crisp images reflect on personal experiences of racism in the past and present day. Set against minimal backdrops, Finley’s images are full of feeling. Subjects appear as if looking inward; their facial expressions allude to words unsaid, showing beauty and strength.

ISE-DA says: I discovered Delfin on instagram a few months ago. I find the smooth strokes in his oil paintings absolutely beautiful and quite intimate. His portraits command attention; their large scale gently pulls you in to experience the emotion of his subjects.” – George Kofi Prah, Visual Design and Art Direction.

African Digital Art | Online Platform

African Digital Art is a celebration of culture across art, design and technology. The digital platform shares works across a range of media – including photomanipulation, CGI and 3D. Featured above (left) is photography by Àsìkò (b. 1978), a conceptual artist who explores his Yoruba heritage through striking visuals. On the right is a portrait by Yannis Davy Guibinga (b. 1995), whose images are part of an expansive and necessary conversation about the representation of Africa and its diaspora. Guibinga depicts “a new generation of Africans” – using photography as a tool to face up to globalisation and western imperialism.

ISE-DA says: “I’ve been following the African Digital Art blog since 2012. As a huge fan of illustration and a digital artist myself, it is so refreshing and inspiring to see a platform solely dedicated to championing digital artists and creators across the diaspora.”  – George Kofi Prah, Visual Design and Art Direction.

FKA Twigs / Headie One / Fred again.. , Don’t Judge Me | Music Video

This new music video from singer-songwriter FKA Twigs centres a giant fountain sculpture by American artist Kara Walker (b. 1969). Recently on view at the Tate Modern in London, the piece is titled Fons Americanus and was created as a monument to the horrors of the British slave trade. Walker describes the sculpture as “an allegory of the Black Atlantic and really all global waters which disastrously connect Africa to America, Europe and economic prosperity.”

ISE-DA says: “FKA Twigs’ music video is a stunning audio-visual moment that captures the complexities of Black British identity. It is the perfect opportunity to dive deep and learn more about how colonial histories impact Black contemporary art.” – Adama Kamara, Social Media Management.

Rendering Justice, African American Museum in Philadelphia | Digital Exhibition

Rendering Justice is an expansive examination of mass incarceration and an unflinching depiction of contemporary America. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people at the hands of police have sparked a global uprising against the nation’s racist criminal justice apparatus. This show centres people and perspectives often hidden by racism, criminalisation and other forms of oppression. Discover video, sculpture, painting, photography and installations, including featured works by Reginald Dwayne Betts and Titus Kaphar.

ISE-DA says: “I was drawn to explore the exhibition in depth when I realised almost all of the artists were formerly incarcerated. My favourite part of the exhibit is Michelle Jones & Deb Willis’ joint photographic project. The photos were so striking and intimate and I found myself interrogating the stigma I hold about incarcerated folks in a way that I never had before.” – Adama Kamara, Social Media Management.

Criterion Channel | Films to Stream

Criterion Channel presents an array of films which focus on “the dreams, struggles, desires and art of black characters and real-life subjects.” The selection highlights mavericks of early African American cinema – including Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams, as well as the trailblazing L.A. Rebellion. There are landmark independent films like Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, as well as innovative contemporary work from Khalik Allah. Through moving-image, Criterion offers an invitation to reflect on the resilience and creativity of Black individuals and communities in the United States and beyond. 

ISE-DA says: “The Criterion channel is a wonderful resource for film, especially with its inclusion of renowned filmmaker Julie Dash. Our inaugural project, The Art of Black Liberation, focused in part on filmmakers of the L.A Rebellion, an artistic collective at UCLA between the late 1960s and early 1980s who created innovative, vivid and intellectual bodies of work. They explored new possibilities for Black cinema, centred on the expression of Black dignity and pride.” – Adefolakunmi (Fola) Adenugba, Founder, Business Development, and Strategist.

Booooooom | Online Platform

Booooooom is a global arts and culture platform fostering a community of tomorrow’s talent. They’ve rounded up 75 images  by 75 emerging photographers taken in the past 12 months. It’s an essential resource for discovering lens-based artists at the cutting edge. The page is filled with bold visuals, many of which respond to our changing world. Shown here is striking portraiture by Kyle Weeks and Lawrence Agyei – who demonstrate a strong understanding of light, colour and camera angles.

ISE-DA says: “Booooooom is a great intersectional display in the worlds of fine art, design, animation, painting and photography. The site is also excellent at being open to submissions from a wide range of creators.” – George Kofi Prah, Visual Design and Art Direction.

Curating at the End of the World | Digital Exhibition

This two-part exhibition was conceived by Reynaldo Anderson and Stacey Robinson of the Black Speculative Arts Movement. Guest-curated by Tiffany E. Barber, it brings together an international cadre of artists who respond to the biggest issues of our times: the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-black violence, climate change, poor governance, trans-humanism and an accelerating, technologically driven economic system on the verge of collapse.

ISE-DA says: “This is such a fun and eclectic collection of artwork that perfectly captures the chaos of the last year or so. I especially appreciated the interactive nature of the exhibit and broad range of mediums and subjects. As a whole, the exhibit is apt and doesn’t take itself too seriously – which made for an entertaining experience.” – Adama Kamara, Social Media Management.

The Memory of Me in Her | Digital Exhibition

What does it mean to exist, to be prevalent, current and present? What role do these themes play in our lives? In The Memory of Me in Her, South African-born digital artist Tshepiso Moropa (b. 1995) explores ideas around interiority, femininity and the self. The artist draws on surrealism and photomontage, placing images of herself in imaginative new guises to question what is real.

ISE-DA says: “The Memory of Me in Her skillfully conveys the theme of lineage and how our generational history is central to our identity. I found Moropa’s entrancing, layered visuals to be an intimate exploration of sexuality and self.” – Adefolakunmi (Fola) Adenugba, Founder, Business Development, and Strategist.

Black Art: In the Absence of Light | HBO Documentary

Inspired by the late David Driskell’s (1931-2020) landmark 1976 exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art, this documentary offers an illuminating introduction to the work of some of the foremost Black visual artists working today. It features interviews with Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Amy Sherald and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as art historians and scholars. Premiering on 9 February for Black History Month, Black Art: In the Absence of Light is a must-see for those interested in visual culture. 

ISE-DA says: “We are excited to see this documentary that touches on the legacy of figures such as David Driskell. ISE-DA will be hosting an event to discuss the documentary later this month. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media for more information!” – Adefolakunmi (Fola) Adenugba, Founder, Business Development, and Strategist.

Visit ISE-DA’s website here. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

Image Credits:
1. Photograph by Kyle Weeks.
2&3: Photographs by Rene Pena.
4. Painting by Delfin Finley.
5. Photograph by Kyle Weeks.
6. Photograph by Lawrence Agyei.
7. FKA Twigs / Headie One / Fred again.. , Don’t Judge Me.
8&9. Reginald Dwayne Betts and Titus Kaphar, Untitled (from the Declaration series), 2020, silkscreen on paper, 22” x 30”.
10. Photograph by Khalik Allah / Courtesy Gitterman Gallery. Sapphire smoking, 125th Street.
11. Photograph by Àsìkò.
12. Yannis Davy Guibinga, The Grief.
13. Spin Me Around, William Falby, 2019. From the collection of New York Live Arts.
14. Tshepiso Moropa, Like Me, 2020.
15. Tshepiso Moropa, Until The Quiet Comes, 2020.
16. Photograph of David C. Driskell. Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times.