Lagosians, Luminaries Bask in Art X Lagos 2018

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Yinka Olatunbosun

With the curtains drawn on the 2018 edition of West Africa’s premier international art fair, Art X Lagos, art-loving Lagosians still bask in the euphoria of the intrigues and artistic spectacle that made this third edition memorable.

From November 2 to 4, the venue, Civic Centre, Victoria Island was abuzz with art audience, long-standing and emerging ones, who came in appreciation of contemporary art in Africa and diaspora, in a near-festival ambience with the perks of waterfront beauty.

The special guest of honour, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, was joined by renowned collectors and the circle of royalties including the Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, and other VIPs such as the CEO, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate for Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, amongst others.

One of the exciting moments of the fair was the opening night where Access Bank Plc, the Gold Sponsor of ART X Lagos, loaned to the fair, Ben Enwonwu’s historical ‘Tutu’.

This 1974 masterpiece had, earlier this year, been documented as the most valued work of Nigerian modern art sold at auction for £1.2 million ($1.67 million).

The public display of ‘Tutu’ at ART X marked a hugely significant moment in Nigeria’s art history, as the painting makes its first public display in Nigeria since 1975, when it was last shown in Lagos.

The keynote artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE’s highly anticipated exhibition, exploring his career highlights, was a curated project of the fair.

He once again demonstrated the unique artistry he has become famed for, through his varied subject matters of global interests cultivated from history, politics, literature, philosophy and cultural identity.

On his homecoming, Shonibare remarked: “I feel fortunate. I know that I can make a contribution to the art scene.”

Shonibare’s appearance at the highly sought-after ART X Talks was an icing on the cake for the fair.

Curated by Missla Libsekal on the last day of the fair, the extension room for the fair was filled to capacity inspite of the few technical glitches that interfered with the visuals mid-way into the session.

The talks saw key stakeholders in Africa’s art economy in a series of exciting and engaging talks, including leading voices such as the Obi of Onitsha, Artist Aboubakar Fofana, with leading art historian, Chike Okeke-Agulu, as moderator.

The 18 participating galleries include Addis Fine Art (Ethiopia), Afriart Gallery (Uganda), Arthouse – The Space (Nigeria), Artyrama (Nigeria), Bloom Art (Nigeria), Circle Art Agency (Kenya), Gallery 1957 (Ghana), Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria), Nubuke Foundation (Ghana), Out of Africa Gallery (Spain), Retro Africa (Nigeria), Signature Beyond (Nigeria), SMAC Gallery (South Africa), SMO Contemporary (Nigeria), Stevenson (South Africa), TAFETA (UK), Thought Pyramid (Nigeria) and Tiwani Contemporary (UK).

Curated by A Whitespace Creative Agency, the fair showcased a series of interactive projects, titled “Touch, Space + The Future,” featuring diverse and exciting art installations across conductive art and virtual reality, stretching the boundaries of contemporary African art.

The new age media invited guests to expand their horizons and enjoy new ways of contemporary art experience.

The 2018 ART X Prize with Access winner, Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola, wore warm smiles as she presented her solo project, ‘Scraps from Mama’s Floor’ at this year’s fair, capturing the attention of guests with her multi-sensory and multimedia project.

With new age technology using cameras integrated into the performance piece, visitors were able to engage with her piece and see themselves as part of the artwork.

Speaking during the fair, Tokini Peterside, Founder and Director, ART X Lagos, expressed her joy at the immense growth of the fair over the past three years.

“ART X Lagos was created for moments like this, to celebrate diversity, to bring people together from across the continent and really to show African excellence and set an example for the world. Over 15 countries are represented here in this one space and I am so grateful you are all here to witness that,” she said.

For the night crawlers, ART X Live! made a return on the Saturday night of the fair, at the Civic Centre car park.

The show relived the sounds of African Legends, creating a nostalgic feeling.

One of Nigeria’s creatives, Odunsi the engine, was the creative director for the live show, which saw exhilarating performances from BOJ, Teni the entertainer and Ghanaian singer Amaarae, all accompanied by innovative visuals from artists Chukwuka Nwobi, Tomisin Akins and Fadekemi.