17 NOVEMBER 2023 – 09 DECEMBER 2023

Adora Mba is a trailblazer and has brought such innovation to the international contemporary art world. She has been a significant part of supporting the curation of my personal collection, and many others, so I’m thrilled we’re able to come together to spotlight these incredible and deserving young African artists. With UTA Artist Space’s ongoing mission to support those making an impact and ADA Contemporary’s great success in fostering emerging talent, this partnership was a natural fit.

Arthur Lewis, Partner, and Creative Director of UTA Fine Arts & UTA Artist Space.

On view from November 17– December 9, 2023, “The Sound of Our Souls” is comprised of 15 emerging artists from the African continent, all showing in California for the first time. At a time when the international gaze is excitedly looking upon these young creative talents, the exhibition aims to present their proud and unapologetic voices and stories.

“’The Sound of Our Souls’ wants us to question what is beyond the canvas. What is the artist’s story? Who are they beyond the paint and their craft? What do they wish to share and impart? It is a vulnerable task for those who dare to create. So now that they have been seen, they demand to be heard and understood,” said Adora Mba, Curator and Founder and Director of ADA Contemporary Art Gallery based in Accra, Ghana.

A powerhouse in the international arts space, Mba is helping to foster the careers of the next generation of African artists. She became aware of the local creative industry’s undiscovered yet considerable potential to resonate with a global audience. In 2017, she launched The Afropolitan Collector, an art advisory platform specialized in acquiring, cultivating, and promoting contemporary art and design from Africa and its global diasporas. In parallel, Mba introduced The Collector Series, an initiative bringing together global collectors of contemporary African art eager to uncover new talent on the continent, before founding ADA in 2020.

“The Sound of Our Souls” includes Barry Yusuf, a Nigerian artist known for his rapid climb to success from his presentations with various galleries at 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair in New York and London, Frieze Art Fair, Untitled Miami Beach, and more. Yusuf works with charcoal drawing techniques and boldly colored acrylic paints to create works that reflect both a deep-rooted faith and an intense desire to elevate the image of African men and women in art, fostering an evolution of Africanness. Informed by a deep commitment to reimagining and re-orientating Black identity in the canons of history, religion, and Western art, Boluwatife Oyediran’s paintings question the human gaze and established norms around sexuality, identity, and power, injecting fresh perspectives and alternative narratives.

Artist and designer Isaac Nana Akwasi Opoku is influenced by Afrofuturism and Surrealism. His work combines diverse African philosophies and symbology to present new futurist spaces as an alternative to outdated knowledge. Nigerian artist, Samuel Olayombo is a lover of texture and works with oils, acrylics, charcoal, and pastels to create vibrant, dramatic, large-scale canvases of predominately male, non-gender normative portraits. Growing up with five sisters in a patriarchal society has had a profound impact on Olayombo’s choice of color tones preferring traditionally “female” colors, like rose and pastel pinks, to depict his seemingly “brute” masculine subjects like his notable Cowboy series. Tapping into topics of beauty, sensuality, and the relationship between the black female body and landscape Zandile Tshabalala draws on topics of representation, particularly the representation of Black women in historical paintings – challenging these ideas and giving back the Black women’s voice depicted in the background or placed in comprising situations that reinforce the idea that the black women is inferior and should be marginalized.

A complete list of exhibiting artists includes Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, Barry Yusufu, Boluwatife Oyediran, Deborah Segun, Eniwaye Oluwaseyi, Emeka Maduka, Ekene Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Gabriel Tendai Choto, Isaac Nana Akwasi Opoku, Ishmael Armah, Khia Poitier, Ousmane Bâ, Samuel Olayombo, Youssra Raouchi, and Zandile Tshabalala.