Tokesplace Presents:

Africa Now!

2 Mar

Africa Now! Emerging talents from a continent on the move

Africa Now! is a major exhibition of contemporary African art sponsored by the World Bank. The exhibit features the work of established and emerging African artists. I enjoyed the exhibit so much that I made several visits. The exhibition highlights the diversity of Africa’s contemporary art. The exhibit opened December 9, 2008 at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. It was so popular that it was extended through February 2009.

My enjoyment was greatly enhanced by the informed guidance of Maria del Carmen Cossu, Art Education specialist on the Bank’s staff.

Thanks Maria.

The show comprises 300 works of painting, sculpture, photography, and design, including fashion design. The art works addresses themes of freedom, justice, and women’s rights, folklore, ancient wisdom and beyond. The exhibition includes traditional art, with the rich colors and simplified forms that influenced early twentieth century artists like Picasso.

African art traditionally, according to many observers, has always immersed itself in abstractions. Picasso exported some of such concepts to Europe. Most impressive to me are the newer abstract conceptions, beyond what Picasso transferred to Europe. I will discuss this in future postings about Africa Now!

Rapid globalization, access to new styles, and the evolution of a world fashion market have forged an increasingly diverse African aesthetic full of surprises and unlikely references. African fashion designers are showing styles and concepts that challenge preconceptions of African fashions. Africa Now! shows that African designers are world class, period. Indeed, others may be cherry picking Africans designs

This post focuses on the fashion designs of Deola Sagoe . Future postings will take up other aspects of Africa Now!

Double clicking on the images will provide more detail.

Deola’s designs were featured in the fashion design aspect of the show. This is Deola, according to her web site This is a beautifu image of her.

Mannequins throughout the Bank’s lobby were dressed in her exciting designs during the entire show. Below is a lobby view of the dressed mannequins.

and this is another lobby view

Fashion aficionados say Deola gives African fashions the most radical expression imaginable, from deeply rooted African fabrics to perfectly matched accessories. Her designs are considered fabulous , exhibiting flawless and unique color combinations, attention to detail, perfect finish and elegance.

This image reflects, at least in part, a dramatic example of Deola’s color combinations, styling drama and attention to detail:

Observers say her refreshing exploration of that which is genuinely African, evokes a subtle nostalgia for history through her use of hand woven fabrics, accessories like cowries, crystals, beads and extensive use of gold. She is judged by many as uniquely able to interpret African cultural diversity, artistry, earthliness, mystery, colors, warmth and passion of African women in their elegant simplicity.”

Deola is also famous for her dynamic signature high fashion pieces. This one is simply elegantly cut, colorful and dramatic. This outfit would turn every head in any room. It was not in the show but I enjoyed it so much that I had to includ it in this post.

She os also known for her vibrant ready to wear collections featuring ethnocentric silhouettes for global appreciation. I beleive this is an example from the show:

A larger portfolio of her more obvious ready to wear designs are shown at

Also see; and,3743 to see more of Deola’s designs.

She exhibits in America, Europe and Africa alongside fashion icons like Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Chanel and Missoni.

My fashion antenna will now be alert for Deola’s fashion influences. They are colorful, dramatic and everyday if you have nerve.

Africa Now! is absolutely more than what western news outlets publish.

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