Mario Macilau: The Road Not Taken

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The brilliant Mozambican photographer, Mario Macilau arrives in London next week for his first U.K. solo show, The Road Not Taken. This follows  his participation in The Saatchi Gallery’s first Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America exhibition  last year. His new show contains a collection of powerful images from two major series The Price of Cement and Out of Town.

Most of Macilau’s work is concerned with representing the plight of marginalised people but what makes his images so so haunting is the absence of voyeurism and intrusion that is the back-story of many photographs  in the public domain. Here there is a palpable sense of trust between photographer and subject. Macilau’s explicit aim is to allow his models to tell their stories. The results are often  harrowing as well as beautiful but they invariably invoke a sense of shared humanity.

Cement girl

Mário Macilau | Untitled (5) | The Cement Series | C-Print | 80 x 120cm | Edition of 6 plus AP £2,000 courtesy of Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd and the Auction Room. .

His Price of Cement images portray workers in illegal cement bagging operations – working at night in lethal environmental conditions. His out of town works focus on neglected communities – the image below is of a Maasai man taken in Kenya in 2014.

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Mário Macilau | Untitled (1), Out of Town Series | 2014 | | C-Print | 80 x 120cm | Edition of 6 plus AP £2,000 courtesy of Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd and The Auction Room

Mario Macilau: The Road not Taken, 23rd March – 10th April, is at Mallet, 37 Dover Street,  W1S 4NJ

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landmasses without women

writing in relation

20110701123519_diarrassouba_untitled_black_painting Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, ‘Le Couloir de la Mort’, 2011, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. Image courtesy Saatchi Gallery.

This is a preview of a text to be published in the forthcoming edition of the magazine Art South Africa. Copyright Art South Africa Magazine. The exhibition Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America is at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4RY (2 April –  31 August 2014).

Exhibitions in London (about New Art from Africa and Latin America) run the risk of making a number of assumptions. Especially when staged as breaking new ground, advancing into the hinterlands of art worlds still to be recognised and consecrated by an imagined monolithic west. Pangaea, according to the catalogue introduction written by Gabriela Salgado, ‘takes its name from the pre-human landmass uniting Africa and Latin America’. The show ‘reunites the two former sister…

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Charles Sekano: The geometry of fate



Charles Sekano | . Bridesmaids Of A Wedding | 2009 – 2010 Mixed media on paper 61 x 86 cm 


Maestro Arts,  in collaboration with Ed Cross Fine Art,  presents:

27 March – 6 May 2014 

Charles Sekano ,The Geometry of Fate


Exhibition Venue: Maestro Arts, Riverside Quarter,Eastfields Avenue, London, SW18 1LP (Putney Bridge)


This second exhibition of Charles Sekano’s work curated by Ed Cross Fine Art takes us on a journey of exploration, revealing vibrant images of women filled with an acute interest and sensitivity to emotions, moods as well as music and landscape.  The themes explored in Geometry of Fate revolve around women, music and nature. Women’s naked bodies and men smartly dressed in suits and hats seem to swirl around saxophones and pianos, bodies and musical instrument fusing in an harmony of shapes, with a classically jazz inspired nostalgia.  As we see in the works of fellow South African artists Peter Clarke and the late Gerard Sekoto amongst others, music and rhythm are celebrated both in the theme represented and in the choice of lines, visual cues and cadenced composition of the works. In Sekano’s case  the association with music runs very deep as he is both jazz pianist as well as poet and painter. Moreover most of the subjects of his works are drawn from the exotic if often harsh world of the Nairobi nightclubs in which he made his living for over thirty years.

Cohabitating with Jazz, a traditionally urban and nocturnal pleasure, nature and landscape strongly figure in the show, reflecting Sekano’s ties to the rich, wild and wondrous African landscape.  Women are portrayed walking, working or playing in fields of lush green grass at times filled with small burgeoning flowers against which the women’s silhouettes are offset.  Blue skies, foliage and trees form at once the foreground and background to the portrayal of sensuous women. 

In the Geometry of Fate, colours are core to the palpability of the works.  Deep blues, greens, violet, burnt oranges, champagne, lemon and vivid fushia are deployed in a harmonious and delicate balance, soft hues merge with deeper denser tones.  Colours seem to play a vital role in fusing people and nature, in grounding the characters in their environment, in the here and now.  Shapes and colours fuse to turn the artist’s ideas, interests and emotions in remarkable visions of place and time.  

With a fine balance between abstract geometric patterns and figurative style Sekano brings to the fore the soul behind his faces.  Noticeably, the men and women’s faces are strong and filled with life and emotions. The eyes are either closed, cast down, gazing away, pointing to a moment of self-reflection.  The many characters in his work serve as a tribute and testament to the diversity of people in Kenya and are at once daring and melancholic, strong and vulnerable.  The passion, fervor, sadness and pride on display call us to empathize with and to immerse ourselves in Sekano’s world. However, most arguably, his composition, colours and portaiture, whilst vividly drawing from African, convey universal values.


This exhibition brings together works from the artists time in Kenya (the 80’s and 90’s) together with new works post 2009 when the artist embarked on a new stylistic phase in which four-sided shapes assumed an increasing symbolic significance. His subjects remain female and are often strikingly beautiful but their forms are etched in to the paper with a series of geometric four-sided shapes that speak of another reality that coexists alongside natural beauty. The reality of life’s limitations – of benign human political structures that the artist has witnessed failing to materialize since his return to his home country as well as other structures, the grave included, that are inescapable. 


Charles Sekano, now seventy years old, lives modestly in Pretoria. Despite having no studio and only limited funds for materials he continues to develop a prolific artistic practice and has a unique, if hitherto largely unacknowledged, place in the story of South African artists in exile. Due to the political turmoil of the 1950’s and the brutality of the apartheid regime of the time, Sekano’s family was scattered and he lived for thirty years in exile in Nairobi.  In turn this brought him a major position in the history of Kenyan art as he rose as one of the foremost painters in Nairobi in the eighties and nineties.

A self-taught artist, Sekano’s career started in earnest and gained serious international  recognition when he was taken on by Ruth Schaffner of Gallery Watatu in Nairobi. When Schaffner died in 1996, Sekano lost a significant actor ensuring his artistic visibility. It is in 2009 that Ed Cross located Sekano in South Africa and put on Seknao’s first exhibition in London: Charles Sekano: House of Women.   Last year Red Hill Gallery in Nairobi staged a retrospective of Sekano’s work and in November the artist’s work featured in Circle’s highly successful East African art auction in Nairobi.  Ed Cross Fine Art is today delighted to present Geometry of Fate and to once again bring Sekano’s beautiful, vibrant  and bitter-sweet  works to London audiences.




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Ismaila Manga: myths, signs and symbols

Ismaila Manga is one of Senegal’s most interesting artists. He graduated from Senegal’s Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1982 and later spent thirteen years in Montreal where he attended Ecole international du design de Montréal before returning to Africa determined to rediscover his own continent. His work features in collections both public and private, in Senegal, Europe, the United States, Canada and South America.

Ismaila Manga SavanneSavanne | Pencil and mixed media on canvas | 142 x 245cm

“Every image fights with death, containing the memory of what has gone, starting with the ancestors,” explains Ismaila. “On the other hand any denial of death weakens the vitality of our mental life. Myths, signs and symbols allow me to establish what seems to me to be the essence of our humanity: the temporal.”

“I use the passing of days and nights to mark on canvas the imprint of time, letting the latter do its own work, materializing in rust obtained by the oxidation of metals. The photos I use in my work are just memories which I project on to the canvas, marked by time and drawn with a lead pencil, the simplest of materials that an artist can use.”

Click here to view our collection of Ismaila Manga pieces.

For enquiries about Ismaila Manga’s work please contact:

Ed Cross +44 (0) 7507067567

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Nathalie Bikoro and the language of history

Nathalie Anguezomo Menier Mba Bikoro is a French-Gabonese interdisciplinary artist working with visual arts & live art performance.

With an education in Politics, Philosophy and Media Arts, Bikoro left France and the UK to return to Gabon to set out her work as an artist.

Nathalie BikoroInto The Looking Glass, 2011, Photo-etching; black ink on ivory paper, 9.3 x 10.5cm

Her 10 year battle with leukaemia during childhood in Gabon, the Netherlands and France has influenced the narrative and methods in which she chooses to create her work. This personal struggle for recovery and return back to her family has pushed her visual language as well as setting goals to develop independent creative initiatives in the arts and culture lead by local people. Her aims and objectives are to incorporate converging arts and sciences into her own practice and research towards developing a Cancer Recovery Arts Centre. She aims to do this by incorporating creative spaces for interaction for children and adults in Libreville, Lambarene & Bitam (Gabon) and by developing educational collaborative community projects lead by local people.

Nathalie BikoroLeaving Mum II, 2011, 10.5 x 14.5cm
Part of exhibition “The Middle Passage, Alice in Wonderland” at Tiwani Contemporary, London, 2012

Mba Bikoro uses the vocabulary of various art forms to make works that function to create fractured narratives and blurs boundaries between meaning, experience and aesthetics. Her alternative live art performances are unique interpretations of historical mythology and challenging appropriations of a knowledge far from ordinary. In doing so she highlights, accentuates and magnifies elements of the relationships present within these spaces.

Her practice proposes a composition of sound, body movement, archaeology and digital performance and encourages interactive response. Her approach responds to people and spaces mediating a great awareness of combining politics and philosophy.

Click here to view our collection of Nathalie Bikoro pieces.

For enquiries about Nathalie Bikoro’s work please contact:

Ed Cross +44 (0) 7507067567

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Ed Cross interview: African art and developments in the online market

mamady.saydi.les.cyclistesMamady Seydi | Les Cyclistes | 2012 | mixed media sculpture

Ed Cross was recently interviewed by in Omenka Magazine. Ed discusses his introduction to African art and his time spent in Africa as a sculptor. Ed shares his thoughts on the current state of the market and how selling African art online is growing in popularity and profitability.

Read the full article:

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The tipping point for contemporary African art?

mario_macilauMário Macilau | Photo of Girl with Doll

Ed Cross was recently interviewed by Rachel Hamada for This is Africa about the contemporary African art market and art scene. Ed believes that the market has reached a tipping point, and that it is now getting the attention it deserves.

What does this increasing interest in contemporary African art mean for the artists involved? Is the term ‘African’ being painted with too broad a brush? Ed offers his opinions into these issues in this insightful article.

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Kimathi Donkor – a figurative master

Kimathi Donkor is a British artist living and working in London whose large, figurative oil paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the UK and internationally.

Kimathi Donkor - Oshun visits Gaba at Tate’s ‘Big House’Oshun visits Gaba at Tate’s ‘Big House’ | Oil on Linen | 170 x 140cm | 2013

Hailing from a family with roots in Ghana, Jamaica, England, Zambia and Poland, Donkor’s meticulously crafted compositions draw on the traditions of portraiture and historical painting. Yet the themes of his work address dramatic modern subjects – ranging from urban conflict in contemporary London to the adventures of Ghana’s anti-colonial heroine, Yaa Asantewaa. Sitters are often friends or family, which, he believes, imparts a degree of intimacy to the monumentality of his figures.

Donkor is a master painter in a digital age, but his work is anything but anachronistic. It is steeped in historical, contemporary and art history references that inform, entertain and challenge the viewer. His paintings are both beautiful works of art and complex political/historical conundrums, arising out of his own heritage and at times challenging personal journey and his astute study of history and art history.

Kamathi Donkor - NotebookNotebook II | Watercolour and pencil on paper | 32 x 24cm | 2013

In 2012, Donkor was commissioned by Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) to produce new paintings for his acclaimed Queens of The Undead solo show at Rivington Place, London. In 2011, he was the recipient of the Derek Hill painting award for the British School at Rome, which included a three-month residency in Italy, studying the work of the Baroque master, Caravaggio.

In 2010, the artist’s paintings were exhibited at the 29th São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. His Caribbean Passion paintings are currently on long-term display at the Usher Gallery museum in Lincoln. From 2009 to 2011, Donkor collaborated with the artists Raksha Patel and Eleni Zagkali alongside a group of young Londoners to create artworks for the Seeing Through participatory project at Tate Britain.

Writing about the artist’s work has appeared in, Studio International, The Guardian and Visual Culture in Britain amongst many other journals.

Kimathi Donkor has been has been the recipient of two full-time painting bursaries from the Arts & Humanities Research Council. He gained his Master’s degree in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts (2010) and his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College (1987). He is currently completing a doctorate in painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Click here to view our collection of Kimathi Donkor pieces.

For enquiries about Kimathi Donkor’s work please contact:

Ed Cross +44 (0) 7507067567

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Joseph Bertiers – the master of African satire


The True Lier  | Joseph Bertiers | 2013 | Oil on canvas | 90 x 100cm 

When I  first visited Joseph Bertiers in Nairobi we had met by the main Dagoretti  road and drove together towards his house – I had no idea what to expect and was greeted by a walled compound with a large smart looking gate – we paused outside  as Bertiers gestured to what look like an “askari” (a guard) just visible inside.  The guard  turned out to be one of Bertiers’ many life-sized scrap metal sculptures that adorn his garden. This was the first of many jokes. Even his name is a joke. He renamed himself Bertiers from the original Mbatia to see if having a European name would  boost his art sales – it did apparently – though that was in another era. Perhaps he should change it back?  But that wouldn’t be funny – so he wont.

The painting you see here is a rollocking expose of a type of corrupt and venal pastor that plagues the African continent and many other parts of the globe. This painting was inspired by revelations about the Fire Gospel Ministry in Kenya where a pastor had been caught paying women to fake illness so that they could be miraculously cured. Bertiers depicts the realities of sexual harassment and the sheer lies and  hypocrisy peddled by these “true liers”.

In the words of the artist:

The time has come for people to realize that they are
conned, cheated and given no spiritual healing at all.  Although they take their  time, these people who pretend to be spiritually superior to their congregations enrich themselves through the poor exploiting the fact that  religion is the opium of the people,  as Karl Marx the philosopher said.

Bertiers is an increasingly successful and acclaimed artist. His work was recently featured in the Financial Times and his work  is in several major collections in Europe and the U.S.A..

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Mário Macilau and The Price of Cement

Mario Macilau The Price of CementUntitled (The Price of Cement ) 5 |  C-Print | 2013 | Edition: 6

The Price of Cement is a series of photographs by the young and acclaimed Mozambican photographer Mário Macilau. The works show the tragic reality of young boys and girls who work in illegal cement bagging operations in Mozambique in darkened buildings, hidden from view, recycling and cutting cement from cement spillages with disastrous consequences for their health. The images that ironically and intuitively reference the world of mime and fashion speak devastatingly for themselves. The empowerment of his subjects to tell their stories with dignity is central to Macilau’s important work. 

Mário Macilau was born in the newly independent Mozambique, in the midst of the most critical phase of its civil war. His family struggled financially and moved from the Inhambane province to the capital, Maputo, in search of a better life. When he was 10 years old he began to work in a small market frequented by the middle / upper class where he became a street child, washing cars in the car park and helping to carry the groceries in an effort to support his family.

Mario Macilau The Price of CementUntitled (The Price of Cement ) 3 |  C-Print | 2013 | Edition: 6

Macilau started his journey as photographer in 2003, when he traded his mother’s mobile phone for his first camera. In 2007, he became a professional photographer. He specialises in long-term projects that focus on living and environmental conditions. As a documentary photographer he is committed to initiating positive change across different cultures, locations and perspectives. In his home country he uses his work to confront the reality of power, environment and cultural heritage that affect socially isolated groups, and issues that define our times.

Macilau shows his work regularly in national and international exhibitions.  In 2011, his work was included in the Pan African group exhibition during the Biennale of African Photography in Bamako. He won the Crossing Point residency  in France at Les Rencontres D’arles in 2012 from Fondation Blachère. He was a finalist for the 7th edition of BESphoto 2011 in Portugal where his work has been shown at CCB – Centro Cultural de Belém. In Brazil he has exhibited at Pinacoteca de Estado de Sao Paulo. In 2011, he exhibited at VI Chobi Mela Photo Festival in Bangladesh, the Photo Spring in Beijing, China, Lagos Photo I and II in Nigeria, The KLM in Malaysia, among others.

Macilau has won many national and international  awards including  the Young ACP Photographer’s Competition in 2010, the Visa Pour La Creation 2012 from the French Institute and the first prize from the Protection Project in Washington DC 2012. He also won the talent prize from France Embassy in Maputo in 2011. Mário regularly attends the Annual Photography Master Class  in Africa organized by Goethe Institute, Johannesburg.

Mário Macilau was featured on Al Jazeera’s Artscape programme in May 2013.

Click here to view our collection of Mario Macilau prints.

For enquiries about Mario Macilau’s work please contact:

Ed Cross +44 (0) 7507067567

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