Saturday 12 November 2011

ENWONWU, LASEKAN FAVOUR IN AUCTION as Portrait masters, new entrants go for mega bucks

By Tajudeen Sowole
Portrait paintings by the late Nigerian masters as well as debate over the figure in Ben Enwonwu’s Tutu (Cool) are expected to dominate discussions when the seventh edition of ArtHouse Contemporary auction opens.

Works of one of these masters who was renowned in cartoon and portraiture, Akinola Lasekan, are also among top lots for the auction.   
Ben Enwonwu’s Untitled (1972 Oil On Canvas, 24 x 20 in.)
   The viewing, according to the managing director of ArtHouse Contemporary, Mrs Kavita Chellaram holds on November 19 and 20 at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos. The auction, she said, will hold at the same venue on Monday, a day after the close of the viewing.

  During a preview, Lasekan’s– Portrait of a Lady (1970 oil on canvas (201⁄2 x 16) and Portrait of A Man were among the works on display.

 These works celebrate the pioneering role of the artist in this genre.

 From his draughtsmanship to the placement of figures on canvas, Lasekan, in Portrait of A Lady, sew a big seed in portraiture painting.

  In another work, a 1956 portrait, Lasekan depicts an elderly man of Yoruba origin with Islamic prayer beads in his hands.

 Lasekan (1916-1972) had his early art tutelage under Aina Onabolu. In 1945 he had a brief training at the Hammersmith School of Art, London, U.K.

 Also, a portrait by Enwonwu, Untitled (1972 oil on canvas 24 x 20 in.) showed a semblance to the now declared missing painting titled Tutu. Aside the similarity in the perspectives, features such as eyelashes, eyeballs, nose and lips suggest that the same model sat for Enwonwu for the two works.

  The artist, according to sources, met his model Adetutu Ademiluyi at the palace of Ooni of Ife, in Ile-Ife the then in Western Nigeria.

  Given the importance art historians and collectors place on Tutu, Yusuf Grillo Pavilion, last year announced a reward of N1m for anyone who has information that could lead to the identity of Tutu.

 Despite the diversity of the works in the auction, great attention is most likely to be concentrated on Lasekan and Enwonwu.

 Lasekan established his career as a top political cartoonist at the Nnamdi Azikiwe’s defunct newspaper, West African Pilot.

Akinola Lasekan’s Portrait Of A Lady
(1970 Oil On Canvas 201⁄2 x 16 In.)
 IN its tradition of bringing new artists into every edition of the auction, Chellaram said over 10 artists whose works were not in the past edition would be given opportunity to feature on this edition. These include Segun Adejumo, Nsikak Essien, Bimbo Adenugba, Eva Obodo, Ebong Ekwere, Gbenga Orimoloye, Moyo Okediji, G. Okojie, Fatayi Adewale, Sam Ebohon, Victoria Udondian, Umoh Akanimoh, Adolphus Opara, Ehi Obinyan and Victor Ehikhamenor.

 Kayode Esho’s Yes I Can (pastel on paper, 24 x 19 in., 2009), started from asking price of N30, 000 and sold at N850, 000.

  And the popularity of the auction has kept expanding beyond Nigeria as works of foreign artists, Ethiopian Worsene Worke Kosrof and Ghanaian Bon Offei-Nyako are among the total 107 lots for this edition.

 Chellaram said the auction house has been receiving responses from people outside Nigeria since the sales started three years ago.     IN the last three editions, the auction house has introduced charity lots, which it said is part of its CSR to support the larger community and artists in need.

 For the November 2011 edition, four works of David Dale, Chellaram disclosed, would be auctioned to support the artist who just recovered from a stroke. She noted “Dale always give to people, so we should give to him now that he is in need of help.”

  At the last auction, ArtHouse also supported the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation-organised Harmattan Workshop. Five works produced from the 13th Harmattan Workshop at Aghar Otor, Delta State were auctioned mid-way into the sales. The total sale for the five charity lots was recorded at N1, 770, 000.

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