For the third year in a row, Lagos stood still to experience ART X Lagos, the dynamic art fair showcasing and supporting the breadth of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. Over the course of the weekend, ART X Lagos opened its doors to visitors from all over the world, including the 2018 guest of honour, the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi. He was joined by collectors from across the world, fellow Royal Dignitaries including the Obi of Onitsha, and other VIPs such as Herbert Wigwe, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as well as art enthusiasts of all ages.
Access Bank Plc, the Gold Sponsor of ART X Lagos, loaned to the fair Ben Enwonwu’s historical ‘Tutu’, 1974, which earlier this year became the most highly valued work of Nigerian modern art ever sold at auction for £1.2 million ($1.67 million). The public display of ‘Tutu’ at ART X Lagos 2018 marked a hugely significant moment in Nigeria’s art history, as the painting makes its first public display in Nigeria since 1975 when it was last shown in Lagos.
ART X Lagos 2018 Keynote Artist Yinka Shonibare MBE’s highly anticipated exhibition, exploring his career highlights, was a standout feature of the fair, capturing the awe of the audience. He once again demonstrated the unique artistry he has become famed for, through his depiction of race and class as he continues to explore cultural identity. Speaking at the fair Shonibare commented on his return to Lagos, his hometown: “I feel fortunate. I know that I can make a contribution to the art scene.”
Yinka Shonibare MBE also featured on the highly sought-after ART X Talks program, curated by Missla Libsekal, on the Sunday of the fair. The Talks saw key stakeholders in Africa’s art economy feature in a series of exciting and engaging talks, including leading voices such as the Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, artist Aboubakar Fofana, and leading art historian, Chike Okeke-Agulu.
This year, 18 leading galleries from across the world participated in the fair, showcasing the cutting edge of contemporary African art. The exhibiting galleries included: Addis Fine Art (Ethiopia), Afriart Gallery (Uganda), Arthouse – The Space (Nigeria), Artyrama (Nigeria), Bloom Art (Nigeria), Circle Art Agency (Kenya), Gallery 1957 (Ghana), Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria), Nubuke Foundation (Ghana), Out of Africa Gallery (Spain), Retro Africa (Nigeria), Signature Beyond (Nigeria), SMAC Gallery (South Africa), SMO Contemporary (Nigeria), Stevenson (South Africa), TAFETA (UK), Thought Pyramid (Nigeria) and Tiwani Contemporary (UK).
Curated by A Whitespace Creative Agency, ART X Lagos 2018 showcased a series of interactive projects, titled “Touch, Space + The Future,” featuring diverse and exciting art installations across conductive art and virtual reality, stretching the boundaries of contemporary African art. The new age media invited guests to expand their horizons and trial new ways to experience contemporary art.
The 2018 ART X Prize with Access winner, Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola, was proud to present her solo project, ‘Scraps from Mama’s Floor’ at this year’s fair, capturing the attention of guests with her multi-sensory and multimedia project. With new age technology using cameras integrated into the performance piece, visitors were able to engage with her piece and see themselves as part of the artwork.
Speaking during the fair, Tokini Peterside, Founder and Director of ART X Lagos, expressed her joy at the immense growth of the fair over the past three years.
“ART X Lagos was created for moments like this, to celebrate diversity, to bring people together from across the continent and really to show African excellence and set an example for the world. Over 15 countries are represented here in this one space and I am so grateful you are all here to witness that,” she said.
For the third edition of the fair, ART X Live! made a return on the Saturday night of the fair, in The Civic Centre car park. The one night only show paid homage to the sounds of African Legends, creating a nostalgic multi-sensory experience. New Gen artist, Odunsi the engine, was the creative director for the live show, which saw exhilarating performances from BOJ, Teni the entertainer and Ghanaian singer Amaarae, who were accompanied by innovative visuals from artists Chukwuka Nwobi, Tomisin Akins and Fadekemi Ogunsanya.