ARTXLAGOS; THE UNCONVENTIONAL EXPOSÉ

ARTXLAGOS; THE UNCONVENTIONAL EXPOSÉ

ART X Lagos is West Africa’s premier international art fair, designed to showcase the best and most innovative contemporary art from the African continent and its Diaspora.

Launched in 2016, it has since become a cornerstone of the Lagos art calendar, drawing local patrons and a host of international collectors, curators, and critics annually. Since its debut, ART X Lagos has welcomed over 15,000 visitors to see the works of Africa’s leading established and emerging artists, including representatives of institutions such as the Tate Modern, Zeitz MOCAA, the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago and Centre Pompidou. These attendees and the satellite exhibitions that have emerged in response to the fair are undoubtedly indicators of Lagos’ position as a fast-emerging and exciting cultural hub.

In 2018, the fair relaunched the ART X Prize with Access, a prize created to support emerging talent and to contribute to the burgeoning contemporary art sector in Nigeria. The award provides funding and mentoring support for compelling projects by developing artists with the potential to propel them beyond the threshold of the local art sector and onto the international stage.

The 3rd annual ART x Lagos exhibit at The Civic Center, Victoria Island, Lagos took place between November 2-4, 2018

THE EVENT FROM THAT GREEN TEA BLOG’s PERSPECTIVE.

The event started with the usual effervescence, preparations for the Art x Live was in session, (which I did not attend). The venue took place at the Civic Center, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“A PEEK AT THE AMBIENCE”. Stage setup for ART X Live

I proceeded into the environment, where I had to register (I had the process up on my Instagram story you would see what they looked like). The first artists on showcase were KARO AKPOKIERE, G.RIZO & DESMOND OKEKE; LAGOS DRAWING-A CONDUCTIVE PROJECT. (I couldn’t get an exclusive interview with them, they were unavailable). But I did get a rundown by one of the curators — the Lagos drawing series curated by AWCA, a whitespace Creative Agency.

Created between 2015-2017 and consisting of a set of ten drawings, the pieces drew inspiration from the spirit, busyness and myriad enticements that characterize contemporary life in Lagos. One of the fastest growing cities in the world in their marriage of text and brashly colored illustration, the drawings offered considerable insight into the social, political and religious norms that dictate life in the city.

The combination of art, sounds, and technology allowed viewers to discover parallels between Akpokiere’s experience of the city and theirs, thereby illustrating the universality of issues reflected in the drawings such as social class and economic inequality, restrictions on freedom of movement, infrastructural decay, etc.

Winner of the all-access art showcase challenge, Yinka Shonibare’s piece showcased an Afrocentric scarf situated in the center of freedom park Johannesburg, a representation of diversity and unity simultaneously.

Gerald Chukwuma

Gerald Chukwuma studied painting at Nsukka Art School, University of Nigeria, and began his career as a painter before developing a multitude of techniques — burning, chiseling, and collage.

According to the one on one interview, these intricately crafted and painted relief works are embedded with rich layers of history and personal and political meaning derived from his ongoing exploration of the process of transformation and reinvention that occurs through migration, and reflections on Nigeria’s socio-political landscape and the local implications of the seemingly inexorable process of globalization. Chukwuma is also an auction favorite, has exhibited in Nigeria, Cameroon, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States.

Cyrus Kabiru

Cyrus Kabiru is a self-taught sculptor whose practice straddles the intersection between fine art, haute couture, performance and documentary, yielding works that articulate his experience of contemporary Africa. He is best known for his intricate found-material sculptures, which he fashions and re-contextualizes from discarded urban fragments and old technology. The most publicly documented of these has been the series C-Stunners: wearable art in the form of striking pieces of eyewear that capture the confidence and attitude of a young generation of globally aware Kenyans.

Cyrus Kabiru’s wearable art forged from bottle lids and bendable metal

Niyi Olagunju

Olagunju works with an array of materials — wood, glass, ekpiri seedpods, copper wire, hand-gilded gold, silver, and copper leaf — which he sculpts, blows, reshapes or combines in surprising ways. He also did possess a warm spirit; his piece was indeed one of my favorite. See below for other artifacts.

ESÚ by Niyi Olagunju

Segun Akano

Segun Akano is a self-taught artist who began to hone his creative skills after graduating in 2008 as an analytical scientist from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. He specializes in relief sculptures, which he creates by drilling thousands of steel screws into a backboard of wood overlaid with printed material. His primary subjects are womanhood and the female form, but he has recently begun to train his eye on traditional and cultural rituals as well.

Surrealism interpreted through Segun Akano

The gallery pulled no stops when hosting the exhibit as can be seen from the artists that were present to showcase their contributions to modern art as seen through the eyes of Africans.

Mad Horse City

Mad horse city imagines the city of Lagos in 2115 and explores the interactions between bodies and space both virtual and physical, across three fictional narratives “moments”.

The first moment “offline”, speculates the sustainability of a completely digital world in the face of an illegal subversive culture known as going off-line. The second moment “ominiran” explores property rights in migration restrictions in Africa via an illegal fishing expedition by two scavengers.

While both these moments consider communal spaces, the third,“ dreamscape”, focuses on the individual experience of both virtual and physical spaces, and how, through concepts such as “assisted dreaming”, both forms of space may interact to facilitate profound, neurological human experiences of the physical environment.

Across these speculative futures run common themes of class, poverty, and inequality driven by disparities in digital assets.

“What would Lagos look like in 2115?”
Mad Horse City display. 

Rashineh Ifoh is an avid writer, reader, and dilettante. He interned as a curator for Rele Art Gallery in Lagos and has a degree in Psychology.

He makes up 1/3 of the blog interns at That Green Tea. He writes from Nigeria.

All images and interviews were taken with permission from the organizers of the exhibition and artists.

Follow Rashineh on Instagram (@rashinehfromaccounting) or send an email to contact@thatgreentea.com for any collaborations. 

Reference articles for more information:

  1. Art X Lagos

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