From Art Collection, Fasuyi Finds Fulfilment in Gallery Management


Despite a successful career in finance, Wale Fasuyi couldn’t resist the pull of the visual arts, which influenced him since childhood.  Yinka Olatunbosun reports

A robust career in the banking sector may have prepared Wale Fasuyi for his current entrepreneurship but he never saw it coming when he left the financial sector in January 2020. Like everyone else, the year turned out to be unexpected. Shortly after his return from a reinvigorating holiday, the world embraced a total lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fast-forward to 2022, Fasuyi opened a new gallery in the heart of G.R.A, Ikeja christened Tim & Carol. Named after his parents, the gallery takes a lead in the formal market structure for artworks in the capital of Lagos, Africa’s most populous city.  A recent gallery tour brought to head the narrative behind the new gallery and how it is set to change the landscape for art patronage in Lagos mainland.

Born into a family of artists, Fasuyi could have been a visual artist himself but he initially felt more attached to the figures running on financial sheets than the ones decorating walls and spaces. With reference to his pedigree, Fasuyi revealed how the love of art trickled down his generation.

“My great-grandfather was a traditional wood carver for the Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland,” he recalled. “All the furniture pieces: pillars, door panels and everything were the things he used to do. My father is a renowned artist and the first graduate of painting in Nigeria. Having gone to the Ahmadu Bello University and worked with international organisations like UNESCO, he always brought back something from his travels. I saw him collecting and organising things around the house.”

At the age of five or six, he considered some of the statues and masks at his father’s home to be quite frightening. “I remember there were some statues and masks we had that I used to be afraid of. My father kept them deliberately so that we wouldn’t be naughty around the house.” 

Also, the senior Fasuyi worked extensively in the studio. His son acted as his studio assistant while he painted, tidying up after him. “But I never painted until I got to secondary school and then I enrolled for Fine Arts and got A2 in the WAEC exams. But I didn’t take it up from there. Initially, I wanted to study estate management because there is a relationship between those subjects and arts.”

Soon, his father’s habit of collecting art became infectious. So, by the time he finished his National Youth Service Corps programme and took up a full-time paying job, he was able to set aside part of his salary to buy artworks.

Fortunately for Fasuyi, his job allowed a great deal of globe-trotting since his portfolio was spread across several African regions. “Anywhere I went, I collected art. Once I got to those places and finished my official assignments, I would go through their directories and look for top galleries in the area. Thirty-five  percent of my collection comes from outside Nigeria. Sometimes, out of passion, I could fly out of Lagos just to go sightseeing. I could go to Gambia or Senegal just to see art.”

His initial business plan was manufacturing of animal feeds but the cost of production was increasing, making the business less desirable. Decidedly, he looked at his existing assets and began to rethink his business ideas.

“I looked into my storage one day and I saw the amount of work I had. I saw that I have enough materials to start a gallery. I wanted to be on the island where most of the galleries are. I was driving past G.R.A one Saturday when it occurred to me that there isn’t any big art gallery in this side of town. G.R.A is one of the fastest growing in terms of commercial activities. We have three world-class hotels and other businesses. Some people have to travel to the island to pick good pieces. We got this property and we opened officially around August last year.”

In the interim, the gallery has played host to a number of events, one of which being the group show honouring Bruce Onobrakpeya, who is now 90, that was put on by the Visual Printmakers Association of Nigeria. In order to keep gallery visitors engaged, the gallery also has a café. Then, a variety of artwork and crafts that could serve as mementos are available at the recently opened gift shop. “We have oil and other materials such as easels of small sizes. Some people celebrate their birthdays with a Sip and Paint party. We have facilities to cater for that. We also have the kitchen. We want to go into art education. Our plan is to adopt schools: two of the elitist status and two of the non-elitist status. We want to look for the best students, give them a token and provide mentorship. At the end of the day, society is better for it because we are producing more artists and expanding the net for art appreciation.”

The gallery which is just a stone’s throw from Ouida House has contributed to making the art community a factor in Ikeja. 

On his advice for collectors, he said it is good to have an endgame in view. “I realise that many art collectors, when they die, their works become so uncared for or causing controversy among family members. For any investment you want to do, there must be an end game. The end game could be to leave it for your family as an estate. You must have children who must have passion for what you are doing. If your children do not have interest, you must put it under a trust.”

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