Expansão Newspaper interviewed the CEO, João Boavida, about the enormous potential for international appreciation of African Art. We share the full interview with you.
Author: Mirene Cruz
The couple decided to create Afrikanizm Art to promote contemporary art made in Africa, a way to contribute to a greater presence internationally and they believe that the current economic moment can bring an additional source of revenue in foreign currency.
How did the idea of the Afrikanizm Art platform come about?
It was born from two great passions, art and wanting to create impact, wanting to contribute in some way to the development of my country. It is a story that begins with just a few Angolan artists, in a part-time, weekend project, while we pursued our careers, until the project they know today with more than 130 artists in 16 African countries.
How has the startup been received by the artistic class?
Very well, actually! I think the community we have built to date is the best proof of that. Of course, there are challenges associated with Afrikanizm Art's brand awareness, not least because we are only two years old, but the consistency and complementarity of channels we have developed create a relevant attractiveness argument for artists.
Who is it directed at: emerging or established?
For both. It has been an interesting journey to realise that even the most established recognise our work and have joined us in this mission.
Do artists come and go when they have works available or are they obliged by contract to stay with Afrikanizm Art?
We work to create opportunities and value for the artist without compromising their freedom to make choices for their career development.
Is it a form of challenge?
What we have felt is a willingness to increasingly come up with creative proposals and to collaborate more intensively with us. I believe they identify with the way we conduct business. This is visible by the 100% retention rate we have of the artists who collaborate with us.
How did you select the artists that are part of the platform?
Firstly, our team does a thorough research on who are the artists that best fit our client's typology and requirements. The second and no less important parameter is undoubtedly the track record and having passed a professional sieve as is the case of curators, gallery owners or participation in biennials. In this way, we know immediately that the artists have the quality we are looking for to compete in international markets.
From which country have you bought the most works through the platform?
Firstly Portugal, followed by Angola and then the United States. These results appear in this order because they are quite conditionally associated with our sustainable growth strategy, however the indicators we have is that this order may have new markets emerging with a higher growth rate.
Which technique is the most popular among buyers?
Mostly painting on canvas, but again this result is also conditioned by the available portfolio. However, we are curious to see the performance with the introduction of new categories such as photography and sculpture.
Does the Angolan medium already invest in art?
As mentioned earlier, it is one of the most important markets for us. There is a great appreciation in our country for art and support for this class of artists, however, we also see more and more new collectors emerging.
Are there many art collectors?
In Angola we already have a history of some more experienced and relevant collectors. Despite the growth we see of new collectors, it is necessary to make a greater investment in the promotion of this area, so that artists can invest more in their careers and so that the profession can gain greater dignity.
How can art help diversify the economy, especially in times like the current economic climate?
African art has a huge potential for international appreciation and we should increasingly think about the infrastructure and stimuli that will enable the players that exist in the market to compete in international markets and consequently bring in an additional source of revenue in foreign currency.
In the current context?
In the current economic context that we live in the country we also have a phenomenon that is nothing new, which is the diversification of portfolios of financial assets, now with a greater focus on Art. In fact, contemporary art presents a more attractive performance at the international level, with constant returns of around 14%, even when compared to alternatives such as S&P 500 and Gold. African art in particular has had some phenomena that have become increasingly regular, with stratospheric growth rates, which makes this segment increasingly interesting.
What is missing for this path of art as a factor of economic diversification to be more viable?
There needs to be greater investment in infrastructure such as fine arts schools and museums, for example, in order to professionalise and create more opportunities for artists within the country. Artists need to be equipped with the best tools so that they can compete in international markets.
What about the role of agents?
It is no less important to reflect on the development of tools and stimuli for players operating in the market to feel confident and invest more consistently for the real development of the sector.
Are we talking about having an ecosystem to foster the sector?
The ecosystem exists, however it needs more consistency and even more players to provide value and more opportunities for artists and their collectors.
And do we already have enough artistic material to make this sector economic?
In Angola not yet, but we are taking very sustainable steps on that path. In Africa there are countries where Art is already an economic sector and where its artists are already internationally quoted and their countries recognised as powers, such as Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa.
Can the Afrikanizm Art platform be seen as the result of the couple's career around marketing?
The world today revolves around marketing. We see big companies running their businesses centred on this discipline. Fortunately we had the opportunity to learn and develop skills that allowed us to have the vision for the development of this project, this path has been a journey of constant learning.
United in the promotion of art
Afrikanizm Art was founded in August 2021 and is the first Angolan start-up with a social impact, dedicated to the promotion and online sale of contemporary African art.
Conceived by the couple Laura Leal and João Boavida, the platform is designed to guarantee the financial sustainability of artists, as well as their professionalisation and the attribution of the necessary tools for the export of their works, without leaving aside the construction of a value chain for the valorisation of artists and the African contemporary art segment in the global market.
What the couple have in common goes beyond their feelings for each other. Their paths have met since their training in business management, but Laura widened the field with tourism. They both love the sea, Laura swimming and João surfing. Books are another occupation of the couple in their free time.
The platform will hold an exhibition in September in Portugal and in October it will be the turn to arrive in Angola.
They are currently working in partnership with Face Studio, a company dedicated to broadcasting and media production. Afrikanizm Art intends to hold, by the end of 2023, a total of four exhibitions to promote in Angola, the works of the artists and the project itself.
Adding economic value to the art sector, while benefiting artists, is another of the platform's objectives, especially to overcome moments of crisis such as the current one, a situation that can be resolved with the diversification of the economy that can also go through art.