Photograph — Ventures Africa

The three-day ART X Lagos event was probably everything its organisers and participants envisioned, and then some. After weeks of anticipation, and the official opening on the 4th of November, the series of events that followed not only resonated throughout the Civic Centre in Victoria Island where the lineup of activities manifested, but with artists, art lovers, and those curious about the field from around Nigeria and Africa, and the globe.

ART X Lagos embodied a rich mixture of exhibitions, talks, culture, and entertainment that featured the continent’s best and brightest representing various artistic backgrounds, with participants soaking the experience in, and aspiring artists expressing intense euphoria, and feelings of optimism about their future in the industry.

In the words of one of such young artists, Oluwatobi, an intern at SMO Contemporary Art, as well as an art student at the University of Lagos who can’t wait for the time to come when she can also exhibit her works, ART X was “amazing” and “fun”. Particularly owing to the fact that the star struck artist saw some of her idols, including renowned contemporary artists Sokari Douglas Camp and Victor Ehikhamenor.

Contemporary Artist, Victor Ehikhamenor, with one of his exhibitions at the ART X Lagos fair.
Contemporary Artist, Victor Ehikhamenor, with one of his exhibitions at the ART X Lagos fair.

Their works, as well as those of other prestigious contemporary artists, were exhibited at the fair which held on the top floor of the venue in a colourful maze-like arrangement. Six African countries and 14 galleries were represented. The works of Malick Sidibe (Mali), Lakin Ogunbawo, Ngozi Omeji, Fati Abubakar, the Video Art Network (VAN), and Uche Okpa-Iroha were also shown at different choice locations within the venue.

Besides the show-stealing art exhibitions and live performances, another prominent feature of the fair was the Talks, held on the 5th and 6th of November respectively, which saw about 30 artists, curators, collectors, entrepreneurs, writers, and gallery owners from different parts of the globe discuss prevalent issues in the art industry, geared towards advancing contemporary art as a discipline and a profession, and a source of cultural pride in Africa.

Art collection and the exploration of visual arts was a central theme throughout the Talks which ran concurrently with the rest of the ART X programmes. The Talks were anchored by an impressive turnout of prominent and diverse stakeholders in the cultural sector who enlightened audiences with their wisdom and experiences under such topics as The Art of Collecting, the African art market, women artists, the economic potential of the visual art industry, and more.

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Left to right; Mo Abudu, Tokini Peterside, Reni Folawiyo, and Bolanle Austen-Peters at the ART X Lagos Talks.

As per usual, discussing the trajectory and achievements of successful women in any given field always makes for an inspirational and interesting segment, and the panel for Cultural Entrepreneurship and the Rise of Women Leaders, led by ART X Founder, Tokini Peterside herself, did not disappoint.

“Challenges of a woman in a business like ours include funding. You go and pitch for something and they look at you in a ‘softer’ way; you’re a girl, and you’re selling shoes. But I don’t want to sell shoes, I want to rule the world”, comments Reni Folawiyo, CEO of ALARA, to an eruption of ovation.

By the time ART X Lagos came to a conclusion on Sunday evening, the vibrant sights and sounds witnessed there, coupled with the knowledge and motivation shared and gained on how to explore and improve the opportunities present in visual artistry, injected a significant amount of hope and excitement into the African art ecosystem.

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