We chat to Kobi & Kwame Mintah, co-founders of Efie Gallery in Al Quoz about how they aim to champion African art in Dubai, with a focus on artists from West Africa. The gallery represents both mid-career and established artists and creates a unique platform for collaboration and exchange between the Middle East and Africa.
Efie gallery provides an artist studio for residency programmes caters for both the gallery’s artists and local artists and the mezzanine hosts a vinyl record gallery with rare and important vinyl records from around the world. It also acts as a space where visitors can enjoy the vibe and soak up both art and music.
Q: What prompted you to open a gallery in Dubai?
Kobi & Kwame: Choosing Dubai for the first location of Efie Gallery and the respective decision to open this address with the work of El Anatsui, is all tied in to the cross-cultural exchange between the Middle East and Africa; this is the essence of Efie Gallery. The nascence of the contemporary art scene in Dubai offers the perfect terrain for expansion and innovation. Whereas in the West where there has been the need and desire to deconstruct previous narratives surrounding African artists and art from Africa, here in the East we are presented with a unique opportunity to rather focus on the construction of a narrative and the shaping of a new environment in regard to art from the continent.
Q: Please share some of your favourite artists?
Kobi & Kwame: To answer this in a handful of names is hard, but these are some of our favourite West African artists: El Anatsui, Ablade Glover, Samuel Fosso, and J.K. Bruce Vanderpuije.
Q: What are your views on Dubai as an arts & culture hub?
Kobi & Kwame: At the heels of the pandemic, responsive and effective government recovery protocols resulted in further confidence of the systems in place and an influx of people from all corners of the world. This has further enhanced Dubai’s strategic positioning as a global hub for art and culture amongst others. The arts scene is buzzing it is exciting, energetic, and ever-evolving.
Q: What are your favourite design spot(s) in Dubai?
Kobi & Kwame: Dubai is unique insofar that there is a myriad of areas that offer a great space for design & appreciation of architecture. This makes it difficult to demarcate a specific spot as a favourite. D3 is fantastic and again such an inspiring design hub.
Q. What's next on the gallery's calendar?
Kobi & Kwame: In April the gallery will present its first exhibition in London, which will be a group show featuring: El Anatsui,
Isshaq Ismail and Yaw Owusu.
Following this show, the gallery will commence its first artist residency with Yaw Owusu, which will lead up to the
artists’ first solo exhibition in Dubai, scheduled to occur in November of this year.
Beyond these two exhibitions, the gallery is set to make debuts at various art fairs around the world and also in
the process of designing programming, offering Educational and Awareness Programmes in addition to solo and
group exhibitions. Our Rekord Gallery launched on 19th March too, which offers intimate music sharing and opens
the gallery up to different audiences.
Credits: Creative direction by Aneesha Rai