Peju Alatise, The Unconscious Struggle, 2012, Mixed Media
By Okechukwu Uwaezuoke
So much in the local art scene, these days, swirls around the ArtHouse Contemporary Limited’s auctions. For good reasons ... One of them is that the Kavita Chellaram-run auction house remains the only credible outfit of its kind...possibly in the entire continent. This explains why Nigerian artists – both home-based and in the Diaspora – have come to reckon with its biannual auctions as the best platforms to sell their works.
Indeed, the success of the entire endeavour boils down to sales. And much of the endorphin rush owes its origin to the elation at watching works get sold at unheard-of prices. Then there’s this camaraderie of “oh-ing” and “ah-ing” and exchanging I-told-you-so looks with like-minded souls.
Now, the 10th in the auction series looms. Date: Monday, May 13. The now preferred venue, The Wheatbaker Hotel, not only hosts the auction proper by 6 p.m., it also hosts the viewings of the works from Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12 (between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on both days).
On offer at the event sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank are 117 lots of Nigerian and Ghanaian art, which include painting, sculpture, mixed media and photography. A press statement from the organisers cites a segment which will feature four charity lots. The proceeds from these lots, titled Seeing is Believing and administered by Standard Chartered Bank, would be donated to a charity cause.
Expectedly, a coterie of first-timers will be featured at the auction. The artists – both Nigerians and Ghanaians – are: Olumide Onadipe, Titus Agbara, Marcia Kure, Shola Fakeye, Babalola Lawson, Nana Nyan Acquah, Kate Badoe, Frank Asomani, Larry Otoo, Cheri Cherin, Gary Stevens, Chris Afuba, Mike Omoighe, Dan Ifon, Isaac Emokpae, Godfrey Okorodus, Norris Adoro, Mary Evans, Ndidi Emefiele, Ogbami Alenosi, Dennis Osakwe, Albert Ohams, Uche Peters, Ato Arinze and Obinna Makata.
The works these artists would naturally complete those of the auction’s regulars Olu Amoda, Oyerinde Olotu, Tola Wewe, Victor Ehikhamenor, George Osodi, Fidel Oyiogu, Victor Ekpuk, Peju Alatishe, Diseye Tantua and Ben Osaghae, among several others. Of course, aficionados should also expect the big names of the art scene – a.k.a. the Masters – to feature prominently at the high-profile event.
The auction house, which was founded in 2007, positions itself “as a venue for the transparent sale of fine Nigerian and West African art”. “The previous auction made a total sale, including the buyers’ premium, of N90, 963, 500 and 77 out of 107 lots were sold,” according to its official press statement.
Also to be expected as a regular feature is the English-born auctioneer, John Dabney, whose presence at the event has helped buoy its image as Nigeria’s first and only auction series of international standard.