ART X Lagos: A weekend in LasGidi (Part 2)

The seventh edition of ART X Lagos, the first international art fair in West Africa, ran from 4 to 6 November 2022. Our previous post covered a few pre-fair activities and gallery visits as well as the opening evening event. The rest of the weekend trip in LasGidi, as Lagos is often called, was an art-lover’s paradise.

Saturday, 5 November

VE Studio / Angels & Muse

The first location on the programming was a visit to Angels & Muse, a creative hub for nurturing and empowering artistic talent. The architect Tosin Oshinowo designed the building. It features a two-bedroom residency area, a co-working space and a 30-seater multidisciplinary room. We had a chance to appreciate Victor Ehikhamenor’s paintings in the multidisciplinary room.

Upstairs is a viewing room and Ehikhamenor’s office. We had the pleasure of seeing Ehikhamenor’s works, such as the script he developed. In the corner hangs a portrait of the famous Benin Bronze image, which also adorns T-shirts. I saw one such t-shirt at the epic Monday night party at Obi’s House, but that is a story for another day, probably a travel website’s blog.

The John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History

The next stop was a 5-minute Uber away at The John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History. The walkabout was a preview, as the Centre will be completed in December 2022.

Dr John Randle, a prominent Lagosian medical doctor, built a public swimming pool in 1928 in a much-loved recreational area. On completion of the pool and surrounding garden, Dr Randle handed over the facilities to the Lagos Town Council with a maintenance purse to ensure its upkeep. This grand gesture was inspired by the refusal of the British Colonial office to build a pool for Lagosians to learn how to swim.

The architects for the project have refurbished the pool area and will introduce some potential restaurant concession areas. The Centre “will aim to engage the public with the richness of Yoruba culture and history; its impact through art, music, religion, language; its reach around the world through popular culture; and its significance in leaving a legacy for future generations.”

Guests got keepsakes to commemorate the visit in the form of wooden stencils of people in traditional dress. The wood carvings will indicate where the bathrooms are. The Centre is definitely a must-see for any future visit to Lagos.

Temple Muse

Next, we headed to Temple Muse, a lifestyle concept store featuring fashion, homeware, gifts and art. It hosted an exhibition of works entitled Ife Mmuo: From the Spirit by Nigerian artist Olisa Nwadiogbu. This exhibition was also curated by Sandra Mbonefo Obiango of SMO Contemporary Art. The display is of 51 historically significant works on paper and canvas from Nwadiogbu’s 36-year career. The visit to Nigeria was all about learning who the masters are and who the newer talents in Nigeria are. So it was an excellent opportunity to take in the fantastic works in such a beautiful setting.

Temple Muse, with the artwork “Ebony (2022)” by Olisa Nwadiogbu in the background

G.A.S. Foundation

The event in the evening was a birthday celebration of Yinka Shonibare CBE, held at his Guest Artist Studio Foundation. This non-profit organisation opened in May 2022 and is dedicated to facilitating cultural exchange for creative practitioners worldwide. The featured artist in the exhibition at the foundation was Emma Prempeh, the inaugural artist in residence supported by Tiwani Contemporary, a gallery with locations in London and Lagos. It was a special event for an extraordinary artist. My favourite of his works is The African Library, a piece of 1000s of books. The books are covered in Dutch wax print fabric and embossed on their spines with the names of notable Africans. The sculpture follows The British Library and The American Library works . The African Library commemorates the fight for independence by African countries and celebrates Africans’ achievements since liberation.

A party to celebrate the 60th birthday of Yinka Shonibare CBE held at G.A.S Foundation in Lekki, Lagos

Sunday, 6 November

The plan had been to attend one ART X Lagos talk, “Leading Contemporaries: In Conversation with Victor Ehikhamenor”. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back to Federal Palace in time. However, I used the time to revisit the fair and take in some of the artworks I did not have a chance to visit on the opening night.

  • Favourites included
    • Nightclub in Dakar (1963)by Demas Nwoko, kó. This piece reminded me of the memories of attending the Dakar Biennale this year
    • Sisters at the beach (2022) by Rachel Marsil, Galerie Cécile Fakhoury
    • Duke by Awodiya Toluwani, Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery (below, right) – his style of “Afro Art” with its intricate script
    • William (2022) by Alexis Peskine, Gallery MAM. The pieces in the series are the faces of people he met during the residency at Gallery MAM in Cameroon
    • Is this still life? VII (2022) by Lulama Wolf, THNK Gallery (below, centre)
    • Boys can be flowers (2022) by Samson Bakare, DADA Gallery
    • Kainene, My Backbone (2022) by Mofoluso Eludire, BLOOM Art Lagos
    • A wedding guest in the park behind the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Accra, c. 1971 (2022) by James Barnor, Galerie Clémentine De La Féronnière (below, left). It was a cute happenstance that Penny and the lady in the image are dressed almost the same

ART X Lagos Postlude

While my original plan was for my art weekend in LasGidi to end on Sunday, I managed to extend my stay. Apparently this happens often with most people who fly in from elsewhere to attend the fair.

I achieved two things with my extended stay. Firstly, I met members of the team at ARTSPLIT, a fractional art investment platform. Secondly, I managed to also catch the group exhibition, I See You, presented at Tiwani Contemporary. The large-scale presentation features the works by Zimbabwean artists Virginia Chihota, Gideon Gomo, Masimba Hwati, Gareth Nyandroro and Portia Zvavahera. It represents intracontinental exchange and friendship through a variety of media. The visit also offered a reflection on the impact Tik Tok has had on the arts and galleries. As an illustration, several groups of people wanted to take photos with the artworks. Sadly in some cases, the guests did not realise that they were trying to put their tripods on the actual artwork!

Overall the fair was excellent. I’m sure the ART X Lagos team was happy with the number of visitors and the interest in and celebration of contemporary African art. It was also great to chat to art collectors from across the African continent about Capital Art and collection management. I certainly intend to make it an annual trip. If you’ve never been to Lagos and are keen to go with a group of fellow art lovers, contact us. We may arrange a visit to Lagos during the time of the art fair next year.

Alexis Peskine with Karabo Morule. Peskine’s artwork, “Oll one (2022)”, is in the background

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