L-R: Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Dr. Demola Sogunle; former Chairman of Stanbic IBTC, Mr. Atedo Peterside; Mrs. Dudun Peterside; Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Mr. Yinka Sanni; and Independent Non-Executive Director, Stanbic IBTC, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, at the 2017 Stanbic IBTC Fine Arts and The Acts event in Lagos

Ikenna Ekwerike tells the story of true romance between the Stanbic IBTC and the arts

The long straight gaily lit corridor stretched down like a tunnel running directly into a high wall of glass and emptying into a fairly large lounge to the left. Hanging ostentatiously on both sides of the corridor walls were striking visual art expressions from diverse perspectives peering silently at the visitor. These were pieces of minds of their creators trapped eternally in the presentations, wordlessly speaking volumes and subject to diverse interpretations according to the mood and angle from where they are viewed.

It was at the prestigious Terra Kulture Arena, Victoria Island, Lagos, where Stanbic IBTC brought together its customers and staff, under the atmosphere of undiluted African arts and the acts, to unwind and shake off the hassles of 2017 while looking forward to the 2018 financial year with high optimism. Put directly, it was an evening of music, comedy, fine art and the acts; tagged ‘Nigeria to the World’.

Not too many individuals, nay corporate bodies look the way of arts. Before the print culture, the making of artefacts was one of the ways people in the oral culture represented, preserved and shared experiences and history. In the internet age, art still remains very relevant and a significant indicator of the creativity in humans.

Art and collecting arts have become hallmarks of progressive minds as Stanbic IBTC and The Standard Bank Group have shown. According to Aderonke Akinyele Bolanle, the organisations’ art curator, the brands are major collectors of Nigerian art with over one thousand artworks to their name. She explained that the organisations got involved with art with the aim to nurture and promote the development of various art strands in Africa.

Therefore, regardless of the harsh economic realities of 2017, which Mr. Yinka Sanni, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC, said was quite a turbulent period for Nigerians in many ways, the best way, he felt, their customers and staff could be thanked and celebrated for their support throughout the past year was around the aesthetic altar of arts.

Justifying this, Sanni said there was intrinsic connection between arts and the socio-economic prospects and advancements of a society. It was for this reason that “The Standard Bank Group’s over 153 years’ African heritage is steeped in its adoption of the African philosophy as a base from which to provide business leadership and direction for development,” he explained.

For Stanbic IBTC, business leadership and direction should support all strata of society, including the creative industry. Such support, through collaborations, partnerships and sponsorships, would ignite the latent talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the populace so that when harnessed, would move society forward.

Although Stanbic IBTC is a big collector of arts, not many of its clients knew very much about the subject of collecting arts. Mr. David Ibiyemi said he had not had the opportunity to consciously appreciate artworks until he started attending Stanbic IBTC’s Fine Arts and the Acts event. He, however, noted that his interest in visual arts had significantly grown even as he had begun collecting arts for himself.

Mrs. Seyi Adelabu, who was attending for the first time said she had been exposed to a whole new perspective to arts while pointing out that the making of arts involved a lot of creativity, observation and discipline.

Experts believe that there is no dichotomy between an artist and an art collector. One of such experts is Alain Servais, a Belgian art collector, who stated that being a collector is the other side of the coin of being an artist. He concluded that a collection is not about accumulation but about creation.

Consequently, Prof Fabian Ajogwu, another expert in the field, gave a brief exposition on the subject of collecting art. Speaking on the topic ‘Pleasure, Profit or Prestige: Collecting Art and the Act of Collecting’, Ajogwu explained that people collect art for all manner of reasons but stressed that art is often appreciated more by sane minds.

He argued that Stanbic IBTC was a responsible organisation; hence its involvement in arts. In his words: “In this gathering I can tell you that you’re in very warm company not just because you’re associating with the very professional and value-adding bank such as Stanbic IBTC, but because it received wisdom that rogues and thugs do not buy or collect arts. There are so many things that people need to think about when they collect art.

“I have to agree with the view that art shouldn’t mean anything; you’re meant to appreciate it. And so the typical collector goes for appreciation rather than precise meaning.”

Ajogwu explained that while collecting art could be just a hobby or something to do with prestige, it could equally be a way of diversifying investments to benefit both the artist and the art collector. He advised contemporary artists to take advantage of the opportunities provided by technology to explore more creative means to better their works and to strike a balance between the practice of the profession and the business of the profession.

As it were, the silent voices of the artworks on display against the luminously alive corridor walls of the Terra Kulture Arena became even louder as the long procession of guests led out of the building. Individuals halted at various art points as if to listen to what each artwork had to say.

The photo sessions that followed seemed to suggest that the artwork and the art admirer had suddenly developed a cordial relationship which had to go beyond that point in time.

On display were the collections of a renowned Nigerian collector, Prof. Olukonyinsola Ajayi (SAN). A host of contemporary works from youthful and modern artists graced the occasion also.

Some of the artworks were: Olumide Onadipe’s World Apart – melted polythene bags; Adeyinka Akingbade’s Master 3 – Monoprint; Obinna Makata’s Ije Nwoke – Fabric and Ink on Paper; Uchay Joel Chima’s Evening Hangout – Mixed Media; Dare Adenuga’s Her Love Story – Thread Sculpture. Julius Agbaje’s Boju Boju (Peekaboo 1) – Oil and Acrylic on Canvas; Gbenga Offo’s 9 Stripes – Oil on Canvas; among others were also on parade.

Musicians like the sensational Timi Dakolo and Isaac Geralds treated the guests to lovely hit tracks. Basketmouth and the young hilarious Kenny Blaq got their ribs cracking with comedy, with a special performance by Terrakulture Crew.