A new art fair in Nigeria

ART X Lagos brings a refreshing flavor to the aesthetic buds

ART X Lagos took place from 4th to 6th November 2016.

A guest observing #NnennaOkore's 'Through Thick and Thin' | Burlap, Dye and wire | 2016, courtesy of Arthouse - The Space

By Obidike Okafor
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The Art X Lagos fair has officially changed the flavor of art on the continent.

The fair took place at the plush Civic Centre, with boats and a cool sea breeze providing the backdrop for this maiden art feast.

For the first time, West Africa gets an art fair, not a biennale in the style of Bamako and Dakar. A living, breathing art fair that lit up the city of Lagos on the first weekend of the month of November.

On its maiden voyage, ART X Lagos mirrored big contemporary art fairs by immersing 5,000 local and international visitors in contemporary art, pop culture, art collecting and appreciation, while collaborating with art created by 65 artists from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Cameroon, Mali, Zimbabwe and Egypt.

Intricately stitched together by the ingenuity of Tokini Peterside, Bisi Silva’s 25 years of curatorial experience, and the strength provided by the right amount of financial muscle, Art X Lagos had only one problem – it was very short (a meager three days) – here one minute and gone the next, while curators, artists, collectors and art lovers were still reveling in the unravelling of new possibilities.

Karo Akpokiere's life size colouring wall installation saw guests add in their own colour, patterns, and signatures in this interactive piece that aimed to highlight the glaring divide between the social classes in Lagos.

Karo Akpokiere’s life size colouring wall installation saw guests add in their own colour, patterns, and signatures in this interactive piece that aimed to highlight the glaring divide between the social classes in Lagos.

One of the highlights of the fair was the wall cum coloring book designed by Nigerian-born artist Karo Akpokiere. The seven meter long edifice depicts the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and visitors were encouraged to participate in the drawing and coloring of the wall.

Another exciting highlight that punctuated Art X Lagos during the three days were the live art performances that involved musicians getting inspiration to produce on-the-spot songs at the venue while artists painted, sketched, and sculpted, creating an aesthetic synergy of art and sound.

Following a general theme of ‘engaging’, the talks at the fair were a gathering of stakeholders in Africa’s art market who discussed the evolution of contemporary art, creative entrepreneurship, and art collecting.

In the exhibition space, Nigerian artists contributed most of the installations, paintings, drawings, photography, and sculptures on display.

Representing the rest of the continent in Lagos were, Barthélémy Toguo from Cameroon, William Kentridge and Sam Nhlengethwa from South Africa,Misheck Masamvu and Kudzanai Chiurai from Zimbabwe, Ghada Amer from Egypt, Mohamed Diagabaté, Amadou Sanogo and Abdou Ouologuem from Mali, Bright Ackwerh, Jeremiah Quarshie, Latifah Idriss, Marigold Akufo-Addo and Owusu-Ankomah from Ghana.

Producer Ikon and Artist Olatunde Alara during the "Intersections" performance installation- a one of a kind live art and sound performance. Taking art from its usual canvas into a more interactive audio visual installation.

Producer Ikon and Artist Olatunde Alara during the „Intersections“ performance installation- a one of a kind live art and sound performance. Taking art from its usual canvas into a more interactive audio visual installation.

There was also a specially curated project of six different exhibitions made up of photography and video art pieces featuring Malick Sidibé, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Maki Oh, Uche Okpa-Iroha, Video Art Network (VAN Lagos), Ngozi Omeji, and Fati Abubakar, most likely to celebrate the impact of these artists on photography, video art, and ceramics both locally and internationally.

To summarize the lessons of Nigeria and West Africa’s first international art fair: Art X Lagos could be a week-long art fair in a permanent space, with an increasing number of participating African artists from the continent and the Diaspora.

Visitors at the fair. (c) Obidike Okafor

Visitors at the fair. (c) Obidike Okafor

At its first effort, Art X Lagos, decided to bypass baby steps by taking big strides into the realm of international art fairs; and with Bisi Silva directing and sponsors determined to go for the long haul, anything is possible for the next editions to follow.

The possibilities are endless for Art X Lagos, and for the Nigerian, West African and African creative mind the fair opens new vistas to the world.

 

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