Ekow Eshun

Ekow Eshun is a writer, critic and curator. He is Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing the most prestigious public art programme in the UK and Creative Director of Calvert 22 Foundation, a leading arts space dedicated to the contemporary culture of Eastern Europe.

From 2005-10, Eshun was Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. During that time, he oversaw a programme that included solo and group exhibitions featuring artists including Tino Seghal, Ellen Gallagher, Yinka Shonibare, Zineb Sedira and Rosalind Nashashibi. As Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, he leads an expert set of artists and curators selecting works for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square on behalf of the Mayor of London. Under his chairmanship, commissioned artists have included Antony Gormley, Yinka Shonibare, Katharina Fritsch and David Shrigley.

At Calvert 22, Eshun oversees a year-round programme of exhibitions, talks and screenings.  He is also the founding editor of The Calvert Journal, the foundation’s online magazine focused on the contemporary culture of Eastern Europe. The Calvert Journal which has gained a global readership of over 2 million annual users under his direction, and won multiple international prizes from the Webbys and the Drum Online Media Awards among others.  

Eshun is the curator of exhibitions including Made You Look: dandyism and black masculinity at The Photographer’s Gallery; Power & Architecture: public space and the post-Soviet world and Post-Soviet Visions: image and identity in the new Eastern Europe at Calvert 22, and Just Kids: Magnum photographers on youth culture, in association with Magnum. He has contributed texts to catalogues for artists including Chris Ofili, Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, John Akomfrah and Hassan Hajjaj.  

Eshun’s writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, Granta, Vogue, New Statesman and Wired. He is the author of Black Gold of the Sun: searching for home in England and Africa, nominated for the Orwell prize, and the editor of Africa Modern: creating the contemporary art of a continent.

He appears on BBC Radio 4 shows including Saturday Review and Front Row and was a regular contributor on Newsnight Review, BBC 2’s flagship arts discussion programme. 

Eshun is the former Editor of Arena magazine, which was nominated for International Magazine of the Year under his leadership. As Editor of Mined magazine, he won a D&AD Yellow Pencil for Editorial and Book Design. He was shortlisted for BSME Business Magazine Editor of the Year as Editor of Hot Air magazine.

Eshun is a trustee of the Free Word Centre and a former board member of Arts Council England, University of the Arts, London and Tate Members. He holds an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University and has been listed by the Evening Standard as one of London’s 1000 Most Influential People. His portrait, by photographer Simon Frederick, is held in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery.


Email: ekow.eshun (at) me.com

Twitter: @ekoweshun

Instagram: @ekoweshun