Art is a vital part of Nigeria’s history, from the famed art cultures of Ancient Nok, Ife, Benin, Igbo Ukwu and so on, to eminent painters and sculptors like Aina Onabolu, Ben Enwonwu, Bruce Onobrakpeya, and Ladi Kwali. These entities are popular for their great contributions to Nigeria’s Art chronicles. What is not so popular, however, is a culture of appreciation, a culture that elevates and celebrates the artist and his artwork even though some, like the aforementioned names, are fortunate to be mentioned in classrooms and lecture halls.
This lack of appreciation for Art has seen Nigeria robbed of her prestigious artworks by foreigners, particularly the British who colonised us, with little to no repercussions. This lack of appreciation gave many the illusion that certain things were not ‘Nigerian’ (a rather debatable identical term — what is ‘Nigerian’?), for example, an art fair. The typical mindstate is: “Why would anyone host an art fair in Nigeria? Nigerians don’t care about all that.” But last year, ART X Lagos, West Africa’s first international art fair, invalidated this idea and showed just how much Nigerians can care about Art. This maiden edition drew an audience of more than 5,000 people over 3 days of exhibitions and live shows at the Civic Centre, Lagos. And this year, ART X Lagos will return with bigger and bolder ambitions.
On Tuesday, at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Tokini Peterside, ART X Lagos’ founder and director, announced the dates for this year’s edition and unveiled the 13 international art galleries selected, adding that the 2017 art fair will feature over 60 artists from 14 countries across Africa and the Diaspora.
As it did last year, ART X Lagos 2017 will take place at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, from November 3rd to 5th. The November 3rd event will include an invitation-only VIP Preview, then the art fair will open to the public from Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th November 2017.
The 13 exhibiting galleries for the 2017 edition include: Art House – The Space (Nigeria), Bloom Art (Nigeria), Fondation Donwahi (Ivory Coast), Gallery 1957 (Ghana), Galerie Atiss (Senegal), Gallery MAM (Cameroon), Nubuke Foundation (Ghana), Retro Africa (Nigeria), Signature Beyond (Nigeria), SMO Contemporary (Nigeria), Stevenson Gallery (South Africa), TAFETA (United Kingdom), and Tiwani Contemporary (United Kingdom).
Notable artists among the 2017 line-up include the Nigerian-born, British-based artist and sculptor Yinka Shonibare MBE, as well as Zanele Muholi (South Africa), Jeremiah Quarshie (Ghana), Modupeola Fadugba (Nigeria), Nandipha Mntambo (Swaziland), Virginia Chihota (Zimbabwe), Boris Nzebo (Cameroon), Babajide Olatunji (Nigeria), Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (Botswana), Amadou Sanogo (Mali) and Portia Zvavahera (Zimbabwe).
ART X Lagos has also invited independent artists, Polly Alakija, Rom Isichei, Lakin Ogunbanwo and Oluseye, to present a curated selection of their own works.
This year’s art fair will also include curated projects across performance art, installation, photography and video art, to create a conversational showpiece for ART X Lagos at The Civic Centre. The artists selected by curator Missla Libsekal are: Nástio Mosquito (Angola) and Pere Ortin, Lemi Ghariokwu (Lagos, Nigeria), Yaw Owusu (Accra, Ghana), Rahima Gambo (Abuja, Nigeria), Johnson Uwadinma (Port Harcourt, Nigeria), Olu Amoda (Lagos, Nigeria) and Wura Natasha Ogunji (Nigeria/USA). In addition, the Access Bank Collection will present to the general public, for the first ever in Nigeria, seven wooden sculptures by Ben Enwonwu MBE, originally commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1960, to mark the artist’s 100th natal anniversary.
The 2017 edition of ART X Lagos is sponsored by Access Bank (Gold Sponsor); Absolut (Silver Sponsor); Stanbic IBTC Pensions, Seven Up and Anap Jets (Bronze Sponsors); Chapel Hill Denham, Lufthansa, Metro Capital and Leadway Assurance (Sponsors) among many others.