Okechukwu Uwaezuoke

Apparently, Arthouse Contemporary’s inaugural edition of The Affordable Art Auction on February 27, which held at the Kia Showroom in Victoria Island, Lagos, was a hit with aficionados. A press statement from the auction house affirms that it raked in in a total of N31, 050,000 (about $155,250) during the evening’s sale. This translated to a sale of 72% of the 116 lots featured, which were the works of leading modern and contemporary artists.

This first-of-its-kind event is the third auction series to accompany Arthouse Contemporary’s bi-annual auctions of Modern and Contemporary Art in May and November. “Each work of art in the Affordable Art Auction was priced at an estimate below NGN 500,000, casting a wider net to showcase a broader scope of contemporary artists,” according to the press statement.

Indeed, its ultimate aim besides engaging emerging markets was also to foster a new collector base. For featured in the auction for the first time were a number of relatively unknown artists. But there were also works by frontline contemporary artists as well as those of the acknowledged masters. The common denominator was that they were “all scaled to a more affordable and accessible price point”.

After the Saturday evening’s auction sales, Rom Isichei’s oil on board painting “Rejuvenation” (2001) emerged the bestselling work, selling for N1, 322,500 (which is about $6,613). Ben Osawe’s gouache on paper “Mask” (1985) sold for N 920,000 (about $4,600) as the second bestselling work while Kolade Oshinowo’s oil on board “The Family” (2009) emerged the third bestseller at N 782,000 (about $3,910). A charity segment aimed at raising funds in support of the Society of Nigerian Artists was also part of the Affordable Art Auction. It was able to raise N 506,000 (about $2,530), a sum which the organisers assured was destined for the organisation’s fundraising campaign to expand its operations.

Founded in 2007, Arthouse Contemporary arguably remains the most credible Nigeria-based international auction house specialising in modern and contemporary art from West Africa. “Arthouse Contemporary aims to create awareness of the scope of contemporary art in the region, encourage international recognition towards its talented artists and strengthen the economy of its art market,” the press statement assures.

Not too long ago, the auction house has recently expanded its operations to include with a gallery, called Arthouse-The Space, which organises exhibitions of contemporary art and a non-profit residency-based programme in Lagos known as the Arthouse Foundation,.

It owes the organisation of its Affordable Art Auction to the generous support by Ecobank, Kia Motors and Luxeria.