At Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is Dalila Dalléas Bouzar's 'Princesse' series (2016-2017), winner of the inaugural prize 'L'art est vivant'. The prize has been founded by a collective of art lovers and collectors along with the Fine Art Collective. Bouzar's paintings are based on photographs taken by Marc Garanger, a regiment photographer, at regroupment camps during the Algerian War of Independence. The intensity of the 12 paintings, all depicting a woman's face on a black background, capture the awkwardness that these Berber and Muslim felt in being asked to remove their veils. Through her appropriation, Bouzar draws attention to their dignity and femininity, by painting their veils and jewellery in gold.

Female portraiture features strongly at this year's edition. Artco Gallery is having a solo show of Marion Boehm's 'Thandi' (2017) series, which nearly sold out on the first day. The black-and-white faces of African women dressed in Victorian outfits of floral fabrics, velvet and lace adopt the classical poses of that era, the inclusion of books conveys their education. The fictional images betray the artist's desire to rewrite history. “Boehm wants to pay tribute to African women, often unrepresented in history and in portraiture, and overdressed them to give them a place in the society where they were often forgotten,” says gallery co-owner Jutta Melchers.

Alexis Peskine, Wolof Cosmic, 2017. Nails, moon gold leaf, paint and satin varnish on wood panels, 250 x 250 cm. Couresy October Gallery, London
Alexis Peskine's 'Wolof Cosmic' (2017) – a monumental portrait on wood panels of a young woman with a penetrating gaze that's made from hundreds of nails, gold leaf and paint – is a standout at October Gallery. Meanwhile, the 'Imaginary trip' (2016) photographs by 24-year-old Congolese artist Gosette Lubondo, re-imagine a young woman's bus ride. In this reverie image about social aspiration, the dozing girl is dressed in elegant clothes and sitting on a red-seated, wooden chair, dreaming herself away from the decrepit vehicle.

Nearby at Art Twenty One is Namsa Leuba’s 'Zulu Kids' (2014). In the staged images, young South African children wearing traditional clothes belonging to family members stand isolated on wooden logs. The series was made during an artist residency when Leuba, 34, worked with the Zulu communities in Kwala Zulu Natal and Soweto. After meeting local children through schools and villages, Leuba dressed them up and incorporated props. The idea of statuettes, however, is not rooted in Zulu culture but in West African animist beliefs.

Marion Boehm, Thandi, 2017, Mix media (paper colllage, old tapestry, antique lace, and embroidery) 168 x 119 cm, Artco Gallery, Aachen, Germany
Ever wondered what to do with your old toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste? Zimbabwean artist Moffat Takadiwa, a deft hand at making works from debris that critique blatant consumerism, has made three arresting sculptures,'Smell Fighters' (2017), from dental care paraphernalia. They loosely recall the tradition of ancestral African masks and works by the late French-American artist Arman, equally obsessed with making sculptures from salvaged products.

Besides the African focus, a nice discovery is Sou Fujimoto's foray into architectural sculpture. At Galerie Philippe Gravier is the Japanese architect's 'Forest of Books, Elements of Architecture' (2016). The five pieces feature circular seating arrangements, on stainless steel rings, for an individual or several people, and spaces in between the vertical iron bars for bookcases. The project recalls how Fujimoto envisioned a “forest of books” concept for the Musashino Art University Museum and Library in Japan in 2010. Fujimoto explains that, for these new pieces, he reinterpreted the 19th-century ironwork of Art Nouveau balustrades, fusing this inspiration with soft curves recalling nature.

Dalila Dalléas Bouzar, Princesse, 2017, Series of 12 portraits, Courtesy of Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Namsa Leuba, Zulu Kids, 2014, Fibre pigment print, 112 x 140 cm, Edition of five + 2AP, Courtesy Art Twenty One, Lagos, Nigeria
Moffat Takadiwa, Smell Fighters (a), (b) and (c), 2017, Spray debris and toothpaste, 190 x 120 x 24 cm, © the artist, Courtesy Tyburn Gallery, London