ART X Lagos Stages Triumphant Return

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ART X Lagos staged a triumphant return to the Federal Palace in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria with the first in-person art fair to take place anywhere on the African continent since the pandemic struck in 2020. The physical fair closed on Sunday 7 November amid reports of strong sales, enthusiastic collector attendance and gallery satisfaction across the board while the online edition will continue via ARTXLAGOS.COM until 21 November.

Tokini Peterside, ART X Collective Founder & CEO said:This year’s ART X Lagos created a place for artists, gallerists, collectors and curators to come together and celebrate the vibrant African art scene. The response to our first physical fair in two years has been astounding – demonstrating the critical role that the fair plays in Africa’s art ecosystems. Many of the 30 galleries who joined us have experienced robust sales and we are excited to welcome even more of them at ART X Lagos 2022. We thank all of our supporters, galleries, exhibiting artists and special projects artists for such a brilliant showing that demonstrated once again Lagos’ dynamism as a leading art capital in Africa.”

For its sixth edition – and its largest fair to-date – ART X Lagos 2021 brought together 30 leading international galleries from 15 countries around the world to present work both online and in-person: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Martinique, Morocco, Nigeria, Sénégal, South Africa, Spain, Uganda, United Kingdom, and USA. Together, they showcased 120 artists from over 30 countries, from Angola to Zimbabwe, Morocco to Martinique, and Egypt to South Africa. Of the 30 exhibitors, 15 joined ART X Lagos for the first time – marking a period of growth for the fair despite the challenges wrought by Covid-19.

There were strong sales across the board, with several galleries reporting sell-out presentations, including Afriart Gallery, DADA Gallery, Pacers Gallery, OOA and KÓ’s special presentation of work by Yusuf Grillo.

ART X Lagos’ first ever collaboration with NFT platform SuperRare was a storming success with more than 75% of the artists taking part in the NFT auction selling their works for above the reserve price of 1ETH ($4500). The collaboration was born out of the art fair’s commitment to develop the enormous potential of NFTs for artists on the continent – demonstrated by ART X Lagos creating a financially risk-free environment for the emerging artists taking part by covering all costs associated with minting NFTs and staging the digital exhibition ‘Reloading…’ at the fair. Stand-out sales included Moonsundiamond’s record sale of Standard Blues for 2.75ETH ($12,400) and Arclight’s sale of Napoleon No Go Pass Dis One for 2.2ETH ($9,900) – both sold in the first 24 hours of the auction.

ART X Talks ran over the course of the art fair, bringing together experts across Nigeria, the African continent, and the rest of the world to discuss timely topics including: the role of collecting on the continent, the dangers of stereotyping African art, demystifying NFTs and their uses by African artists, and a panel discussion with Ngaire Blankenberg – the newly appointed Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

This year ART X Live!, the dynamic fusion platform for art and music created by ART X Lagos, presented ‘Forward Ever’, a live performance watched both in person and virtually around the world, curated by Lanre Masha, Faridah Folawiyo and Ayo Lawson, produced by BigFoot and Pheelz and featuring musicians Lojay, AYLØ, Dami Oniru alongside the visual artists AMKMQ and Fez.

The Curated Projects at ART X Lagos 2021 centered on the (re)imagination of the future of the African continent, including the aftermaths of colonisation and slavery, along with the consequences of political regimes that contribute to inequality and socio-political exclusion. Future Africa presented newly produced and commissioned artworks by David Alabo and Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú that responded to the conceptual framework of the theme: The restful ones are not yet born. Visitors to the fair experienced David Alabo’s interactive artwork One Africa, Three Futures which addresses the limiting ideas of growth in Africa and Adéọlá Ọlágúnjú’s allegorical, three-channel video work ÌYÁBỌ̀ : a re-BIRTH story.

The second Curated Project – titled Unfolding Layers of Time – was a multilayered immersive installation composed of paintings, sculptures, and photographs by Nigerian artist Kelani Abass who proposed the possibility of multiple narratives and histories, taking from the examination of his family archives in response to the questions: How can we imagine an African community and therefore a collective memory for today and tomorrow? And – How can personal archives contribute to the making of that collective memory?

ART X Lagos 2021 also staged an Interactive Project in celebration of the fair’s return to a physical format. Titled We Are Here and curated by A Whitespace Creative Agency, it brought together Kaduna-based film collective The Critics and the Lagos-based sound artist Aye! and teamed them up with ART X Lagos’ daily visitors to produce a dynamic short film.

The Access Bank ART X Prize – Nigeria’s leading award for emerging visual artists – also returned after a hiatus due to Covid-19. The 2019 winner, documentary photographer Etinosa Yvonne presented a solo exhibition at the fair in November, curated by Wura-Natasha Ogunji. The winner of the Access Bank ART X Prize 2021 – Chigozie Obi – will present work at ART X Lagos 2022 after a residency at Gasworks in London, a cash prize and mentorship.

Galleries exhibiting at ART X Lagos 2021 commented:

Daudi Karungi, Afriart Gallery (Uganda)
“ART X Lagos is very important for the furthering of contemporary art from Africa. It’s on the continent, and it means a lot for the art of Africa to be appreciated and traded in Africa. And the fair has the majority of collectors from Africa. This is the only fair in the world that has ninety percent black people at the opening. And if you don’t fully understand that statement I just made – you better think about it. Look anywhere in the world, tell me the place in the world with more black people gathering over a weekend and collecting art or dealing with art than right here.”

Yasmine Mechbal, Loft Art Gallery (Morocco)
“ART X Lagos is a fair that crystallizes the excellence of the creation of artists from the African continent and its diaspora. The fair extends its programming beyond exhibitions, to multidisciplinary cultural events, which makes the event richer, and closer to its audience, especially that of young generations who have fed it with dreams and hope! It is also a great opportunity to tell our story to the world, from our continent through an annual artistic meeting, designed by an inspiring young woman, Tokini Peterside!”

Oyinkan Dada, DADA Gallery (Nigeria)
“I feel like ART X Lagos is firmly at the center of the African international art scene. I think that being here is being seen and it’s very important to be part of this community. Also, having worked at ART X Lagos before and experiencing how the fair really galvanises the community and draws people from all over, I thought this was the place to be at and the best place to properly represent my artists on the continent.”

Victoria Cooke, Gallery 1957 (Ghana)
“It’s our fifth time showing here! We’ve shown at every single physical ART X Lagos fair. We’re actually the same number of years old… we’re the same age as the fair so we do see it as a great support and we really like to support every single year so we’re thrilled to be back physically. It’s great to be back at the fair, great to reconnect with Nigerian collectors, great to see lots of friends and meet new people as well. The online platform was really successful for us as well, we actually sold a work that’s going all the way to Australia! It’s amazing to see how far the breadth of the online platform can be. Then here on the ground it was just great to show some of the highlights of our year with Amoako Boafo, Kwesi Botchway and also some of the Nigerian artists that we’re working with.”

Sorella Acosta, OOA Gallery (Spain)
“The experience has been very very good. I think that the selection of the artists that we made with Abdias Ngateu, Evans Mbugua, Anjel [Boris Anje] and also Daniel Onguene was a good choice. This year the artworks have had impact. They are colorful and I think the collectors of Lagos, Nigeria like them. Also, the fact that we present artists from Africa but not from Nigeria is also interesting because for many collectors it’s something new. We have Evans Mbugua who is from Kenya and the three other artists from Cameroon. We have sold many art works. It is a very very good edition for us.”

Dominick A Maia Tanner, ELA – Espaço Luanda Arte (Angola)
“My colleague galleries in Angola are mostly interested in showing in Europe. For us, for the past several years, our main goal and efforts have been to promote to new audiences in Angola and around Africa. Showcasing artists from Angola, and other African countries on the continent, first and foremost, helps to create new African collectors. To be at ART X Lagos, even if online and for the first time, is the realisation of an old dream, and makes us not only proud to be selected, but also proud to be part of this transcontinental movement.”

Charl Bezuidenhout, WORLDART (South Africa)
“African artists have grown greatly in confidence and stature in recent years, and ART X Lagos opens the door to what is on offer. As a gallery we value its insistence on quality and integrity, and we appreciate being part of this important event.”

Julie Banâtre, SEPTIÈME Gallery (France)
“ART X Lagos has actually been on our list of fairs we’ve wanted to do since we opened the gallery in October 2019. After all, not only is Nigeria one of Africa’s largest art markets, ART X Lagos has managed to build a solid reputation internationally. We have enjoyed forging new connections for the gallery and our artists.”

FURTHER INFORMATION
ART X Lagos 2021 Exhibitors

Physical Fair: 4-7 November at Federal Palace in Lagos
DADA Gallery (Nigeria) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Kó (Nigeria)
Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria)
Pacers Gallery (Nigeria) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
SMO Contemporary Art (Nigeria)
Afriart Gallery (Uganda)
Galerie Atiss Dakar (Sénégal)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Côte d’Ivoire, Sénégal, France)
Galerie MAM (Cameroon)
Gallery 1957 (Ghana)
Kanbi Projects (United Kingdom)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery (Côte d’Ivoire)
OOA Gallery (Spain)
SEPTIEME Gallery (France)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021

Online Fair: 4-21 November via ARTXLAGOS.COM and Artsy
Afriart Gallery (Uganda)
Circle Art Gallery (Kenya)
DADA Gallery (Nigeria) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Eclectica Contemporary (South Africa) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Ed Cross Fine Art (United Kingdom)
ELA – Espaco Luanda Arte (Angola)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
espace d’art contemporain 14N 61W (Martinique) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Galerie Atiss Dakar (Sénégal)
Galerie Carole Kvasnevski (France)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Côte d’Ivoire, Sénégal, France)
Galerie MAM (Cameroon)
Gallery 1957 (Ghana)
Kanbi Projects (United Kingdom) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Kó (Nigeria)
Loft Art Gallery (Morocco)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery (Côte d’Ivoire)
MAGNIN-A (France) – new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria)
Nubuke Foundation (Ghana)
October Gallery (United Kingdom)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
OOA Gallery (Spain)
Pacers Gallery (Nigeria)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Sakhile&Me (Germany)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
SEPTIEME Gallery (France)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Skoto Gallery (USA)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
SMO Contemporary Art (Nigeria)
Stevenson (South Africa)
THK Gallery (South Africa)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021
Tiwani Contemporary (United Kingdom)
WORLDART (South Africa)- new to ART X Lagos in 2021

Digital content from ART X Talks and ART X Live! are now available via the ART X YouTube Channel

You can keep in touch with ART X Lagos by visiting ARTXLAGOS.COM and following @artxlagos on social media. You can also follow the conversation with #ARTXLagos