The Top 30 African Painters You Need To Know Today

Julien Delagrange, Contemporary Art Issue, February 2, 2022

Today we take on the African continent, scoping its artistic landscape for the very best African painters you need to know. The contemporary era seems to run parallel with post-colonialism. The decolonization of the African nations in the post-war era resulted in a period of substantial change and upheaval.


As a result, a highly interesting socio-political climate arose for contemporary African art to prosper. African artists have taken the responsibility to define, write or paint their own history and identity. An utmost intriguing symbiosis arises of African culture, the implementation of native media, symbols, and various issues encompassing economic disparity, shaky sovereignty, an uneasy transition to capitalism, a clash of tradition versus globalization, public health and racial conflicts, including the lingering effects of the collective trauma of the colonial era.

Since the turn of the new millennium, African contemporary art has found its way into the international mainstream of the art world. But what about contemporary painting? As a result, for this article we are pleased to present you an extensive and reasoned selection of mid-career and established artists and artworks.


The top 11 consists of the most important – highest ranked – African painters today including a short biography. As we can only touch briefly an every painter, we have included hyperlinks to monographic publications for further reading. We complete the top 30 with a visual anthology of 19 highly ranked mid-career African painters in alphabetical order, resulting in the most extensive online resource on the matter.

So, without further ado, let’s discover the best African painters today.