Realizing that the lack of support and the weak presence of promoters considerably reduces the opportunities for "incredible artists who cannot effectively promote their work and, consequently, capitalize on it and have a professional carrier," Laura Leal and João Boavida decided to create Afrikanizm, "a platform for the promotion and sale of Art by contemporary African artists" aimed at giving them a voice and showing their talent to the rest of the world through digital transformation. "Our goal is to show that African Art can and should have a place in the world Art stage, while actively participating in the promotion of culture in Angola," say the two founders.
They created, from scratch, a platform that operates on three different levels: online, with the sale of art through e-commerce on the website; an agency, where they enhance the talent, working with institutions, galleries and private companies to create initiatives that allow the promotion of artists; and a private channel, where they work very closely with a base of clients and art investors in Angola and the rest of the world.
Currently, they deal in four categories of works – painting, photography, collage and digital – from artists who find in Afrikanizm "the possibility to sell their works, without any binding contract and with one of the lowest commissions in the market, when compared to other players," they say. Added to this advantage are flexibility and non-exclusivity, which allow artists to explore various opportunities to build their careers. Selected through a scouting process, based mainly on intense research on the Internet and social networks, through the history of exhibitions in galleries, partners and other events, they trace the background of each artist, which allows a selection based on international quality parameters and the offer of the diversity that the final client desires. They then come into direct contact with the artists to whom they explain in detail the purpose of the platform and its benefits. "It has been a super rewarding process, considering the vote of confidence we have received," they say.
In a short period of time they have built a base of more than 45 artists representing eight African countries – Angola, South Africa, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya – mostly Angolans and Nigerians.
Pioneers in this new business area, they recognize that the biggest difficulties they face are logistics and tax-related, because there is "very little knowledge about the tax and documentation processes required for exporting art". Having successfully overcome all these challenges, they also confess that they are surprised with the engagement that they have had from their clients, "the most rewarding part of the journey", they admit. A journey that already has more than 100 works sold, with the company of artists such as Angolan Adilson Vieira, Don Sebas Cassule, Evan Cláver, Lino Damião or José Silva Pinto, Mozambican Sebastião Coana, Egyptian Sherin Elbaroudi, South African Akissi or Nigerian Duke Asidere, to name a few.
Text: Susana Gonçalves
Austral Magazine, edition n152, Agosto/Setembro de 2022