With growing interest from international auction houses and a flourishing gallery scene, East African art is catching on with global collectors and a new generation of local buyers.
There is no doubt that the yearly auction that Circle Art Agency started three years ago in Kenya created an electric shock, with some pieces going for three to four times the estimated price and with collectors from New York, London and Hong-Kong calling the night of the event.
Two decades ago China was the new art frontier and collectors invested in little known Chinese artists which have now become heavy weights with prices that are no longer affordable.
It is now Africa’s turn to attract the same type of attention and Nairobi is emerging has a hub of creativity attracting artist from the continent coming to base themselves in the Kenyan capital.
It is hard to explain why suddenly East African art is exploding but the wealthy international collectors are certainly helping and the growing awareness of contemporary African art around the world with the help of art fair such as 1:54 started by Touria El Glaoui and major museum like the TATE Modern who now have their own African art curator or Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor becoming the first African to direct the Venice Biennale in its 120-year history, has led to a spiral of increased demand.
For decades Kenyan art was mostly created to satisfy the legions of tourists that used to come by millions on the footsteps of the Hollywood film "Out of Africa" that contributed to put Kenya on the map of the cool places to visit.
Things have changed a lot since, tourism is no longer the force that it used to be due to the increasing insecurity, and Kenya artists have now become engaged with their reality and their message is no longer about pretty giraffes but reflect a multi layered reality - politics- corruption - crime - survival.
The time was right to visit some of most influential Artists of the continent in their studio at work.