- Title: A fresh look at Nigeria's vibrant contemporary art scene.
- Date: 24th November 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF VISUAL ARTISTS ON STAGE WORKING/ MUSIC PLAYING / AUDIENCE MEMBER TAKING PICTURE ARTIST PLAYING MUSIC FROM COMPUTER
- Embargoed: 9th December 2016 13:38
- Keywords: Contemporary art painting photography collectors Goldman Sachs Modern Economy
- Location: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- City: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Art,Arts/Culture/Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA00259SZMFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Art X event held in Lagos early in November showed work from 65 African artists and proved Nigeria's contemporary art scene is more vibrant than it has ever been.
The three-day affair showcased seasoned as well as up-and-coming artists from Ghana to Senegal and Burkina Faso.
There were also debates on the future of African art and where the business is headed.
"For me, the goal in doing this was to inspire and to inspire our different audiences. If I start first of all with the artistes, professional artistes of today, so many of whom complain that they are not really being collected or they don't work so easily with galleries. It's to inspire them to continue to do what they do. For younger artists, it's to inspire them to know what the future could be like, how the future could look if they would only persevere and continue to thrive for excellence in all that they do," said Art X Lagos, founder Tokini Peterside.
Live performances with artists creating pieces as guests walked around was one of the highlights. Some visitors were even invited to participate.
Elements of pop culture were also a key theme at the event. Installations were accompanied by hip hop and jazz music sets as young artists painted graffiti murals.
Organizers said the idea was to bridge different forms of art.
Contemporary art in Nigeria dates back to the 1950's. But top artists, even stylistically modern ones, are often influenced by sacred traditions.
Before European colonialist showed up, the many kingdoms and chieftaincies that now make up Nigeria had a proud tradition of art, such as wood or stone sculpture and tie and dye fabrics.
Like most art, it was rooted in religion, so when the pious 19th century British dismissed local carvings of gods and deities as idolatrous savagery, it nearly killed Nigeria's art scene. They destroyed hundreds of works; others, they carted off to museums.
Now critics say there is a sense of urgency in the way art is growing in Nigeria and taking its place internationally.
But artists have a unique task to balance traditional and modern influence.
"Contemporary art producers in Nigeria have a challenge of trying to figure out what is important about our society, our culture, our way of life and how they embed that and enshrine that around objects that they create you know whether that object be a painting, whether that object be a photograph, whether it be a piece of sculpture or it's an animation or it's a piece of video art. I think that is... is the largest challenge for contemporary artists," said Ade Adekola, a Nigerian artist.
Africa is still widely viewed in art circles more as a source of fine art for auctions in the developed world rather than a market in itself.
Events like Art X show that may be changing. A growing number of Nigerian art lovers are hooked to the vibrant scene in the country and the wealthy ones are adding local pieces to their personal collections.
Art X organizers said they welcomed over 5000 visitors during the three days of events.
"Seeing the different works that can come out of the country, things that we can showcase to the world, budding talents, the diversity, the culture and presenting them in very good light you know so I am definitely very impressed with something like this," said one guest.
Organizers hailed this as the first international art fair for West Africa. They hope it will be followed by more regular similar events.
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