Ben Enwonwu’s Tutu on display at Art X Lagos, 40 years after
For the first time since 1975, Ben Enwonwu’s masterpiece, ‘Tutu’, which was reportedly missing and later found in a London home, eventually made it to Art X Lagos, courtesy of Access Bank Plc. Early this year, the painting became the most highly valued work of Nigerian modern art, having been sold for £1.2 million (or $1.67 million) in a single auction.
The public display of the acclaimed work of art, no doubt, marked the beginning of a new era in Nigeria’s art history in the same way that the presence of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who was the guest of honour on the opening day, and other monarchs added a touch of royalty and class to the three-day event.
For the third year in a row, the organisers of the annual art fair made good their promise to showcase and support the breadth of contemporary art produced in Africa and in the Diaspora.
Internationally acclaimed artist, Yinka Shonibare’s highly anticipated and specially curated exhibition, which explored the highlights of his career, stood out clearly among other events during the fair. As expected, the artist demonstrated the unique quality that has made him famous through his exploration of cultural identity in his works.
Shonibare, who was clearly excited to be back to Lagos, also participated during the highly sought-after ART X Talks programme curated by Missla Libsekal. The event, which had the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Aboubakar Fofana and prominent art historian, Chike Okeke-Agulu, as well as other stakeholders in, in attendance, featured an exciting debate on Africa’s art economy.
About 18 leading galleries 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 (United Kingdom), Thought Pyramid (Nigeria) and Tiwani Contemporary (United Kingdom).
Curated by A Whitespace Creative Agency, Art X Lagos 2018 also 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 winner, Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola, was proud to present her solo project, ‘Scraps from Mama’s Floor’ at this year’s fair. She was able to draw the attention of the guests to her multi-sensory and multimedia project.
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.”