Abuja auction debuts, targets GDP
By Tajudeen Sowole
In the past few years, awareness in art appreciation has been on the increase in the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.) Abuja, but an auction by two art galleries may be the impetus to connect the city to the current upsurge in art as a viable investment in the country.
The unveiling auction, perhaps the first in the F.C.T., scheduled to open for viewing public on November 15 and 16 with sales on the 17, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Central Business District, is a challenge to the art community. Reason: unearthing the art market of Abuja through auction would be an additional boost to the value of Nigerian art, which started yielding higher dividends few years ago.
One of the lots for the Abuja auction, a painting by Kolade Oshinowo
Organised by two Lagos-based art promoters: Terra Kulture Auction House and Mydrim Gallery, the objective of the Abuja auction, according to the conveners, is to spread the value of Nigerian art as well as create awareness on the importance of art collections, outside the nation’s art hub, Lagos.
Managing Director of Terra Kulture, Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters, during a preview in Lagos, stated that the Abuja project is a follow-up to the “successful art auction organized by Terra Kulture in Lagos, earlier this year.”
The auction held in May this year recorded about N51.7m worth of sales for 51 lots, representing almost 50 per cent of the total lots, including the N13.5m record sale of Ben Enwonwu’s Untitled (ink on paper, 37.5 x 32 in., 1980).
The partnership with Mydrim Gallery for the Abuja auction, Austen-Peters stated, is important to enrich the works. “Mydrim is one of the most experienced galleries in Nigeria. We believe this is one of an exemplary partnership in art business, which will help boost collections.”
On art appreciation and collection in Abuja, the proprietress of Mydrim Gallery, Mrs Sinmidele Ogunsanya admitted that “Abuja is not really known for art like Lagos; the effort to organise auction in the city is important because we need to get the entire nation involved. To educate people on the importance of art, particularly about the investment value.”
A stockbroker and one of the leading art collectors in Nigeria, Yemisi Shyllon, an engineer who is the auctioneer for the Abuja sales stressed the importance of investment in art. He noted that at this period of uncertainty in global stock market, investors in the developed countries are turning to art, “because art is doing well in Europe and the U.S. as an alternative source of investment.”
He argued that Abuja, being the nation’s capital city with people who “are well placed,” art auction stands to complement the efforts of the business and political class towards improving Nigeria’s economy. Shyllon declared: “we want art to contribute to the GDP of Nigeria.”
And based on his experience in the economics of art, particularly as the auctioneer of Terra Kulture’s last sales, the partnership, he noted, “is a catalyst in art promotion as the first auction to be hosted in Abuja.”
Alex Nwokolo’s Oju (Face) Series is among the works for the Abuja auction
ABOUT 80 works, which include paintings and sculptures of masters such as Bruce Onobrakpeya, Abayomi Barber and Kolade Oshinowo will be on table while Segun Aiyesan, Alex Nwokolo, Fidelis Odogwu, Ruden Ugbine and Olumide Oresanya are among the young artists whose would be on sale during the auction.
And given the impressive response of Terra Kulture’s last auction, the Abuja sales may just be another success. Top five sales for Terra Kulture’s last auction include Enwonwu’s Untitled (ink on paper, 37.5 x 32.3 in, 1980), N13.5m; David Dale’s Tribute to African Woman (charcoal and watercolour, 26.6 x 37 in., 1995), N5. 5m; Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Dance in the Bush (etching, 40 x 115 in. 1998), N3m; Yusuf Sina’s Mood of Nation (oil on canvas, 42.5 x 49.5 in., 1994) N3m; Okpu Eze’s Untitled (oil on canvas, 28.5 x 52.5 in., 1984) N2.5m.