From the 3rd to the 5th November more than 9000 artists, galleries, collectors and art lovers gathered together in Lagos, Nigeria for the second edition of West Africa’s first international art fair: ART X Lagos. It was launched last year to highlight the wealth of talent from across the African continent and Lagos’ developing art scene.
Thanks to the successful debut of the first edition in 2016, this year helped to consolidate Nigeria and Africa contemporary art scene and to consolidate its position as West Africa’s premier international art fair, which saw a 50% increase in visitors for this second edition.
Welcoming the guests to the exhibition hall were the famous seven wooden sculptures by Nigeria’s greatest modern artist Ben Enwonwu. The works were originally commission by the Daily Mirror in 1960 and had never, until now, been publicly displayed in Nigeria, coinciding with the artist’s 100th natal anniversary.
There were also an outdoor installation, Smile, by Olatunde Alara and commissioned by Absolut, which is made to tackle the theme Artist as Citizen, and a colouring danfo, designed by Olalekan Jeyifous and curated by A Whitespace Creative Agency, inviting guests young and old to indulge their creative impulses.
The main exhibition floor hosted 14 exhibiting galleries including Arthouse Foundation, Bloom Art, Fondation Donwahi, Gallery 1957, Galerie Atiss, Gallery MAM, Nubuke Foundation, Retro Africa, Signature Beyond, SMO Contemporary, Stevenson Gallery, TAFETA, and Tiwani Contemporary. The 65 artists on show included artits from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Botswana, Mali. In addition, four independent artists, Polly Alakija, Rom Isichei, Lakin Ogunbanwo and Oluseye presented a selection of their works.
The programme of events also included a cycle of talks by eminent artists, including Lemi Ghariokwu, the mastermind behind Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti’s album artwork, Ed Keazor, Stacy Hardy from Chimurenga South Africa, and Olu Amoda.
The second day was the return of ART X Live! in partnership with Absolut, tagged Electric Africa: The Digital Orchestra, and saw the fusion of digital art by Williams Chechet and Osaze Amadasun with electric music. Hopefully, young art enthusiasts turned out in large numbers to watch Poe, Tomi Thomas, Wavy the Creator, Eko Samba and producers Aye and Leriq, who teamed up to deliver a unique live music experience.
The highlight of the programme included talks by Njideka Akunyili-Crosby, who talked about her education and how it influenced her career. The ART X Prize with Access Bank winner, Habeeb Andu, was also announced at the end of the talks.
At the clusing speech, Tokini Peterside said:
Following last year’s turnout of 5000 people, it is both exciting and humbling to learn that over 9,000 people have walked through our doors these past 3 days! We thank all our sponsors, exhibitors, artists and the general public for your support. Our 2017 edition has been a phenomenal success due to your participation and the passion that you have brought into the experience. We can now say with confidence that the future is incredibly bright, and that we are on course to deliver on our mission – to magnify the patronage of African artists across the continent, and to inspire the future generations of African artists. We assure you of our commitment to maintaining ART X Lagos as a leading light for African contemporary art, and look forward to sharing with you in the new year our plans for 2018.