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Say it Loud—The Christie’s Art Auction to Diarize this Summer

Following last year’s debut, Christie’s “Say it Loud” art exhibit and online auction returns to celebrate contemporary Black artists

This summer, Christie’s is once again partnering with visionary curator Destinee Ross-Sutton to present Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud), an art exhibition celebrating Black art followed by an auction. The event will take place online, and also at Christie’s main galleries in New York City from August 5–19.

Last year’s debut featured the work of 22 international, young, emerging, and mid-career artists, among them South Africa’s Nelson Makamo, London-born Kesh, and Milwaukee’s Khari Turner. The second edition builds on the success of last summer’s sale with a similar number of artists represented, something Ross-Sutton believes is more vital now than ever.

A portrait of Destinee Ross-Sutton
Destinee Ross-Sutton curates exhibitions with the aim of shining a light on a new wave of figurative painters who are transforming a genre that has been traditionally dominated by white male artists.

“There’s a saying: ‘The world enjoys Black culture, but not Black people.’ From designers on runways co-opting trends and playing them off as their own, to music and dance, we’re now seeing something similar in art… finding a way to exploit young people who want their voices to be heard,” Ross-Sutton notes.

“It’s important to empower these artists, to let them know that you don’t have to be represented by a major gallery or be super well-known to realize that you do have your own power.”

Ross-Sutton finds her artists on Instagram or through personal recommendation. Of Khari Turner, who also appears in 2021’s Say it Loud, she observes, “He’s a favorite among a large variety of people who have different relationships to art, from the casual gallery visitors to passionate collectors. He has a very wide reach.”

Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud) is organized by Christie’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion initiative, which is providing its global platform for the art exhibition and auction. It will help to facilitate introductions between any interested parties and the artists directly, or with their representatives. Christie’s will not receive a percentage from the sale of any work in the art auction.

Quick Facts: What to Know About 3 Top Contemporary Black Artists

Nelson Makamo

Charcoal portraits of a young girl by Nelson Makana, works that are on sale in Christie's art auction
Two works from Nelson Makamo’s recent Thakata series. In 2019, the artist received the Vanguard award from the Harvard African Students Association. Image: Nelson Makamo/Destinee Ross-Sutton

Based in Johannesburg, South Afirca, Makamo is known for using mediums such as acrylic, print, watercolor, and charcoal to create candid portraits of children—works that Time magazine has referred to as “The art of optimism.” His expressionistic style steers away from depicting its rural subjects as destitute, and instead explores the beauty of youth and the eternal joy of childhood.

A hyperrealistic portrait of a young woman by Johnson Eziefula
Twenty-three-year-old Johnson Eziefula's artworks exemplify the new Contemporealism movement—coined from its roots in both Contemporary Art and Hyperrealism. Image: Johnson Eziefula/Destinee Ross-Sutton

Self-taught Nigerian artist Johnson Eziefula has said his passion for art began as a child—when he often drew or painted on any surface he could find. Through the mediums of charcoal, acrylic, pastel, and wax-printed fabric, he explores themes such as cultural hybridity, Blackness, pop culture, and identity. He depicts these observations through a distinct use of color, portraiture, and symbolism.

Khari Turner

An abstracted portrait of a black person with wings in the background by Khari Turner
Khari Turner explains that his paintings "combine abstraction with realistic renderings of Black features to rejuvenate the relationship of my history to my ancestor’s history.” Image: Khari Turner/Destinee Ross-Sutton

New York-based Turner is currently an MFA graduate candidate at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. His works—which primarily focus on portraits of Black figures—have been featured in numerous exhibitions, including last year’s Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud) at Christie’s and the Art of Our Century exhibit in New York. He describes his art as “a diary of struggle and overcoming struggle.”

Banner image: Portrait of Gilchrist by Nigerian artist Adegboyega Adesina from the Christie’s Say it Loud 2021 exhibition.