Contemporary African Art Exhibition Series

Annabelle Nwankwo – Mu’azu
Founder & Curator

Annabelle Nwankwo-Mu’azu is an independent curator & consultant specialising in the promotion of art from Africa and the Diaspora. She has been engaged in addressing how artists of African descent have been and are represented in the international art forum for 15 years. 

A graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, (SOAS) University of London, she received a BA Degree in Art & Archaeology, under the eminent African art historian, Prof John Picton. She went on to join Africa 95 as one of the founding members, working alongside the Artistic Director and Finance Director with institutions like the Whitechapel Gallery on their landmark exhibition Seven Stories About African Art. Consequently she curated several solo and group exhibitions at the British Council, Goethe Institute and Alliance Francaise in Nigeria.

‘As It Is!’ is her brain child and a continuation of an ongoing pursuit to address preconceived notions about African art to a wider audience. This was first highlighted in her first internationally acclaimed exhibition, Accident & Design, Gani Odutokun and his Influence, co-curated with Nigerian artist and art historian, Jacob Jari at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS in January – March 2000. The project and the accompanying catalogue explored the life and work of the late influential artist, Gani Odutokun and examined and highlighted the contributions that Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has made in the development of contemporary Nigerian art.

Her second major exploration was the acclaimed exhibition Tapping into the Known also held at Brunei Gallery, in April – June 2007. It was an exhibition of poetry, paintings and installations by the late eminent Nigerian poet, Christopher Okigbo and his artist daughter, Obiageli Okigbo; with contributions in the catalogue from Nobel Literature Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka (
Her most recent exhibition was a group exhibition held at the Coningsby Gallery London, in September 2008 with works from Paris based Sculptor, Stevens Dossou Yovo and paintings from Kis Keya from Belgium and German artist Julia Roder.

Annabelle has also worked as a consultant for The Christopher Okigbo Foundation, Kwangju Biennale, CDT Design – London; and Brussels based cultural groups - PAAPA & Mbari Brussels.  In spring 2008, she was engaged by Harvard University to research a project on the Trans – Saharan slave trade. The project titled Breaking the Silence was a UNESCO and Harvard initiative, funded by the Ford Foundation and overseen by Professor Wole Soyinka and Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jnr, of the W.E.B Du Bois Institute, Harvard.

She has written articles for several magazine publications including ‘West Africa Magazine’ and ‘Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art’ - an international arts magazine edited and published by African art historians Salah Hassan and Uche Okeke at Cornell University, USA. In 2009, Annabelle was invited by Nka to contribute a review on her exhibition ‘Tapping into the Known’ for the NKA 21st Century & the Mega Shows Edition.

Annabelle is the founder and Director of Cocoa Arts. Established in late 2007 from her passion for the contemporary arts of Africa and the Diaspora; and a desire to dispel pre-conceived modes of thinking about ‘African Art’ and highlight and convey the wealth of  vibrant artistic creations, from this wonderful continent and beyond, to diverse audiences worldwide.

Cocoa Arts is an internet based gallery and art consultancy specialising primarily in contemporary art from Africa. However, diversity and interaction with artists from all corners of the world are intrinsic to the portfolio ethos and Cocoa Arts also promotes emerging artists from outside Africa
and the Diaspora.