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With Its Focus On Artists From Africa, Dubai-Based Efie Gallery Makes Its Presence Felt In The Middle East's Art Landscape Efie Gallery cemented its presence in Dubai when it got its own permanent location at Al Quoz Creative Zone in March 2022.

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Kwame Mintha is the co-founder of EFIE GALLERY.

Kwame Mintah is the co-founder of Efie Gallery, a contemporary art gallery that he launched in Dubai with his mother, Valentina, and brother, Kobi, which is dedicated to exhibiting the work of artists from Africa, particularly West Africa. And while Efie Gallery is today a space that brings together art lovers from both African and Middle Eastern cultures, it actually started out as something entirely different.

"We actually owe the genesis of Efie Gallery to the Rekord Gallery," Mintah reveals. "In 2021, my brother Kobi and I were exploring the idea of exhibiting our record collection at the All Africa Festival -an annual event celebrating African culture in the UAE- on the basis that these discs are one of the richest art forms, encompassing the artistry of the cover, the historical specificity of the liner notes, and the music itself. But through further discussion, this idea evolved to a visual art exhibition, which became Efie Gallery's debut exhibition in a site-specific pavilion at the Burj Plaza in Dubai, which was designed by Ghanaian architect Alice Asafu-Adjaye."

Efie Gallery cemented its presence in Dubai when it got its own permanent location at Al Quoz Creative Zone in March 2022- but the Rekord Gallery remains an integral component of the experience at this space. "The Rekord Gallery on the first floor is where we exhibit our permanent collection of originally pressed rare and important vinyl/shellac records from around the world, dating from the 1940s, to the present day," Mintah says. "This has been an innovative approach to changing how a gallery can be both perceived and experienced. Sterility is a common criticism of many gallery spaces, but we have found that in being interdisciplinary through music and visual art, our space feels more inviting to visitors."

Related: A Return To Roots: Black Flamingo Beauty Co-Founders Mona Gulaid And Mariam Abdillahi Have Created A UAE-Based Natural Skincare Brand That Pays Homage To Their Native Somaliland

Kwame Mintah co-founded Efie Gallery with his mother, Valentina, and brother, Kobi. Source: Efie Gallery

The intertwining of two very different mediums of art, separated by just a floor, allows visitors to have viscerally varied experiences as well, Mintah notes. "This is apparent in the differing way visitors interact with the space dependent on the floor on which they are on; when downstairs, often, navigation of the space is conducted in silence, as absorption appears to be qualitative of visual art, and so, often visitors wish to take in what they are seeing or experiencing," he says. "In contrast, when visitors move upstairs toward the Rekord Gallery, the space produces conversation, as we have found that in comparison to visual art. Visitors seem to feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts on a particular song/sound, and how it relates to them. Music appears to be a shared experience, whilst visual art is much more individual."

In the three years since its launch, Efie Gallery has gone on to exhibit the works of a number of artists of African origin, both from the African nations and its global diaspora. "We've featured the likes of El Anatsui, James Barnor, Yaw Owusu, Isshaq Ismail, Slawn, Maggie Otieno, Theresah Ankomah, Chrissa Amuah and many others," Kwame says. "And beyond displaying the gallery's permanent collection, we still have the Rekord Gallery, which is a space for record collectors in the UAE and overseas to exhibit their own collections."

Source: Efie Gallery

Now, as Mintah gets ready for Efie Gallery's showcase at Art Dubai -one of the Middle East's largest international art fairs- in March this year, visitors can expect to lean into yet another intertwinement of music and visual art, with the gallery aiming to showcase the personal record collection of the aforementioned Anatsui- an internationally acclaimed Ghanaian artist- at the event. As something that has never been shown to the world, Anatsui's collection promises to be a revelation- make sure you keep an eye out for it when you visit Art Dubai!

EUREKA! Kwame Mintah on how to make an idea a great one

Greatness lies in execution, not ideation "Almost everything that has been created once existed in the mind of someone else before the creator. If you have an idea that you believe in, act upon it, and only then will you find out if it is great!"

Related: A Decade In Review: Mudassir Sheikha, Co-Founder And CEO, Careem

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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