Behind the art magazine championing African artists

Inside the art magazine championing African artists | Soho House

Soho House member and founder of DADA Gallery, Oyinkansola Dada, has launched a magazine targeting a new generation of Black creatives and art enthusiasts

Wednesday 19 October 2022        By Sagal Mohammed

Oyinkansola Dada is the Lagos-born, London-based founder of DADA Gallery and DADA Magazine. The gallery’s mission is to introduce the most exciting contemporary Black artists to international audiences. Since its inception, it has curated experiences across Francophone Africa, Anglophone Africa and Europe. Its roster consists of Black creators whose work sidestep the traditional and tackles divisive themes of immigration, sexuality, gender, and more.

DADA Gallery began as an African literature, culture and politics blog called POLARTICS. Through POLARTICS, Dada immersed herself at the heart of the African creative scene. Driven by a desire to help emerging artists reach their potential, a resolve to connect burgeoning art collectors with African art, and a passion for curating meaningful experiences, she evolved POLARTICS into DADA Gallery. In October 2022, she released DADA Magazine, an art magazine founded on the ethos of DADA Gallery that targets a new generation of Black artists and art enthusiasts. Last Friday, Dada hosted a launch party for the magazine at our Tea Building Studio in east London. 

Here, we speak to the Soho House member – who has been profiled by the likes of The Face, Financial Times and Okay Africa – about her vision for DADA. She also explains how she’s merging her background as a solicitor with a degree in international politics from King’s College London with her love for expression through art and creative skills.

Inside the art magazine championing African artists | Soho House

Why did you start this magazine?

‘I wanted to create an art magazine that made Black artists the core focus, with a lens on those living and working in Africa and its diaspora. There is a gap of representation when it comes to spaces focused on amplifying the voices of Black artists and I wanted to help rectify it. I also want the magazine to serve as a knowledge base for the next generation of artists and art enthusiasts who need help demystifying the art world. It’s known for being traditionally elitist and inaccessible for newer audiences, so DADA Magazine was created with this in mind.’

Inside the art magazine championing African artists | Soho House

What can readers expect from DADA?

‘For the first issue, readers should expect in-depth interviews with artists and collectors. There will also be essays by contributors from across the globe covering creative scenes in cities including Lagos, Dakar and London. For example, we feature an essay about the development of the graffiti scene in Dakar accompanied by images of graffiti in the Senegalese city by Djibril Drame. We’ve also commissioned editorials that explore the intersection of art and fashion –  stylist and photographer, Daniel Obasi presents a series of self-styled and photographed images, while Samson Bakare is styled by Momo and photographed with his life-size sculptures by Manny Jefferson in Lagos.’

How has Lagos inspired your career?

‘It’s served as an incredible incubator for all of my ideas. I started out doing pop-up shows in Lagos before establishing a presence in London. It was a great place to really learn to dive head first into working on creative ideas, and leaning on a support system of artists and creators in my network. Lagos continues to play a vital role in my career, as I still put on exhibitions there and throw an art and fashion party called Lagos is Burning. It will always be home for me and I’m there as much as I can. It serves as a place to recalibrate and get a burst of inspiration.’

Who would you like as your next cover star?

‘It would be really cool to get Solange at some point.’

How do you spend time at Soho House?

‘I use the Houses as a place to relax, meet people and entertain friends. I also tend to go to specific events that align with my interests.’

DADA magazine will be available to purchase online at DADA Gallery soon.

Interested in becoming a member?