31 October 2017

West Africa: ART X Lagos - Second Installment of West Africa's International Art Fair

ART X Lagos is an International Art Fair created to widen Nigeria's connection to the contemporary art scene across Africa and the world. Its second instalment is set to be bigger and bolder than the last.

Art X Lagos, one of West Africa's largest art fairs, is back for its second instalment with bigger and bolder offerings. The three day event running from November 3rd to 5th will showcase contemporary African art from 15 countries and feature 14 galleries representing African artists on the continent and the diaspora.

Last year, ART X Lagos, invalidated the idea that Nigerians do not care about Art when the edition drew an audience of more than 5,000 people over 3 days of exhibitions and live shows at the Civic Centre, Lagos

"This year we have more international galleries," Tokini Peterside, founder and director of Art X Lagos, said to OkayAfrica. "We've added a gallery from the UK, Cameroon, Senegal and Ivory Coast [to the initial list of galleries from] Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Mali. So there's greater diversity across Africa and the Diaspora."

Though the fair's format remains unchanged several new additions were made such as two art videos in the screening room as well as curated projects loosely based on the theme of the artist as citizen.

The 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).

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. Among the curated items are Rahima Gambo's photography project on the impact of colonialism and the Boko Haram insurgency on education in Northeastern Nigeria, and Ben Enwonwu's 57-year-old wooden sculptures which have never been seen in Nigeria.

Another new addition to the line-up is the interactive project "A Conversation With," which will connect university art students with visual artist Victor Ehikhamenor and photographer Uche Okpa-Iroha. "I wanted to have university art students who are on the brink of commencing their careers as artist for them to have an opportunity to converse with artist who are succeeding," Peterside said to ThisDay Live of her decision to create the intimate round table talk. She added that it was important students heard from industry insiders about the struggles and triumphs of working in Nigeria as an artist.

This year's talks programme will explore Fela Kuti's legacy through the lens of Lemi Ghariokwu, the artist behind the Afrobeat musician's album covers. Peterside intuited the focus on Fela would be new and different because "we're looking at Lemi's role as the chronicler of Fela's era. We'll be showing material he's never exposed to the public, sketches (and) illustrations that he drew (for Afrika Shrine's weekly newsletters)".

Asked what she hopes attendees will take away from the fair, Peterside told ThisDay Live, "I want people to feel enriched, and by enriched I mean in an intellectual way. I see Art X Lagos as an educational, enriching experience. There's so much to learn within the context of visual art, there's so much conversation that we haven't had so far (and) I want Art X Lagos to be the channel for that this year."

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