African artists are banking on a record-breaking contemporary and modern art market

or Abidjan-based artist Saint-Étienne Yéanzi, the continent’s social and political reality has sparked a creative evolution for contemporary African artists, he says, giving them confidence to work and stay in Africa.
The contemporary art market in Ivory Coast and across sub-Saharan Africa has captured collectors’ imaginations on a global scale, translating into profits for many artists like Saint-Etienne. He says the average value for individual pieces of his work increased from roughly around $8,000 to $60,000 in his seven years as an artist.
Perhaps the biggest example of this exponential growth is Ivorian rising star Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, better known as Aboudia. “He is one of those artists that has evolved well in recent years,” says gallery owner Cécile Fakhoury, who opened her gallery in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 2012 and has witnessed the ways Aboudia’s vibrant style of graffiti-like painting — reminiscent of the works of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat — has propelled his career.

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