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Touria El Glaoui
Katrina Sorrentino

Touria El Glaoui, Founder of 1-54 Art Fair

One event stands out for its unique focus and profound impact in the vibrant landscape of international art fairs: the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. At the helm of this groundbreaking endeavour is its founding director, Touria El Glaoui. Her vision and leadership have brought African contemporary art to the global stage and reshaped perceptions and conversations around African artistic expressions.

Touria El Glaoui: Early Life and Inspiration

Born in Morocco, Touria El Glaoui grew up in an art-dominated environment. Her father, Hassan El Glaoui, was a renowned Moroccan painter whose work was pivotal in influencing her path. Despite initially pursuing a career in the corporate world, Touria’s deep-rooted connection to art eventually led her to conceive the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

The Birth of 1-54

Launched in 2013 in London, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair was named for the 54 countries that constitute the African continent. The fair was born out of Touria’s recognition of the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of African artists in the global art scene. She envisioned a platform that would showcase the diversity and richness of African art and challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions surrounding it.

Expanding Horizons

Under Touria’s leadership, 1-54 has expanded beyond London, with annual New York and Marrakech editions. This expansion reflects her commitment to creating bridges between Africa and the rest of the world. Each fair brings together galleries, artists, curators, art professionals, and collectors, fostering a dynamic dialogue and exchange that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries.

Impact and Legacy

Touria El Glaoui’s impact through 1-54 extends far beyond the art fair. She has been instrumental in bringing attention to African artists, many of whom have gained international recognition and have been acquired by major museums and private collections worldwide. Her work has also inspired a new generation of artists and curators from Africa and its diaspora.

Moreover, her initiatives have sparked critical conversations about the art market, diversity, and representation. Touria has become a leading voice in the global art community, advocating for equity and inclusivity.

A Continuing Journey

Touria El Glaoui’s journey with 1-54 is far from over as the art world continues to evolve. She remains committed to exploring new possibilities and platforms for African artists. Her vision is not just about showcasing art; it’s about rewriting narratives and creating a more inclusive and diverse art world.

Touria El Glaoui has established herself as a key figure in contemporary art, championing a future where African art is integral to the global art conversation through her unwavering dedication and pioneering spirit. Her legacy is one of empowerment, innovation, and bridging worlds, a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries and transform perceptions.

Touria El Glaoui Interview

What is a common misconception of African Art?
Touria El Glaoui: It’s the belief that there is a singular African aesthetic. The continent comprises of 54 countries with multiple regions and art hubs, each with their own infrastructures, politics, socio-economic conditions, languages and cultural history. For too long, the artistic production of Africa and its diaspora has been minimised by preconceptions and stereotypes, we need to continually challenge these imposed limitations.

How has the Art world changed since you begin 1-54 Art fair?
Touria El Glaoui: The art world is slowly bringing its attention to African artists and diaspora artists. I hope this attention will not wane, but will become a consistent, deep and mutually beneficial interaction.

What is an ‘Art rule’ that you completely disagree with?
Touria El Glaoui: Not necessarily a rule, but something I have always railed against is arts speak. It makes work unnecessarily inaccessible and exclusive.

What are the two over-used phrases in the Art world?
Touria El Glaoui: Immersive and aesthetic.

What is the best advice that you would give to an Art collector?
Touria El Glaoui: Always buy work that you love and look at the work you buy as critical support for the artist. Get to know them, their work and their galleries.

What is the first Art work you remember?
Touria El Glaoui: I grew up surrounded by the work of my father, Hassan EL Glaoui, so without a doubt, a many number of works of his, both finished and while he was painting them.

Aside from the 1-54 Art fair, where is your favourite place to view Art?
Touria El Glaoui: I recently re-visited the new Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town and it is as amazing as everyone says it is.

Who is an emerging Artist you are excited to watch develop?
Touria El Glaoui: This is always such a difficult question; I couldn’t possibly choose a single artist! We have over 15 galleries coming to the London fair for the first time this October, many of whom are showing emerging artists we have also never had before, so there really are too many to choose from.

Describe Art 154 in a hashtag
Touria El Glaoui: It will have to be my favourite hashtag, #mykindofart

Touria El Glaoui’s visionary leadership at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair has revolutionised African art representation and set a precedent for cultural inclusivity in the global art scene. Her commitment to elevating African artists and fostering a diverse dialogue continues to inspire and reshape the art world. 

For those interested in learning more about the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, its artists, and upcoming events, or to delve deeper into Touria El Glaoui’s remarkable journey and contributions, visit the official website of 1-54 (www.1-54.com) and following their social media channels offers a wealth of information and insights. 

Additionally, art enthusiasts and professionals alike can engage with the fair’s various global editions, participate in forums and talks, and immerse themselves in the vibrant world of contemporary African art that Touria El Glaoui has been instrumental in bringing to the forefront.

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