Thursday 10 May 2012

Nwoko’s Praise Singer tops Lagos art auction

 By Tajudeen Sowole

 For the second time in two years, works of renowned artist-cum-architect, Demas Nwoko (b.1935) have recorded the highest sale at art auctions in Lagos.

  Nwoko’s painting, Praise Singer, (1961), oil on board, 91.4 x 122 cm. was sold to a telephone bidder at N7million during Arthouse Contemporary’s eighth art auction held on Monday, April 7, 2012 at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Caption: Demas Nwoko’s Praise Singer, (1961), oil on board, 91.4 x 122 cm.
   At the same auction house’s November 2010 sales, Nwoko’s The Wise Man, wood, was the highest sold at N9m, almost meeting Bruce Onobrakpeya’s record sale of N9.2m set during Arthouse’s debut art auction in 2008.

  Also, another architect, Peju Alatise (b. 1975), whose mixed media, Ascension, (2011), 122 x 182.9 cm sold at N4m is the only young artist among the top five of the sales, which include works of living and departed masters. It’s her second feat in such rating in the last one month. At the Terra Kulture-Mydrim auction in Lagos, last month, Alatise’s All Coming Together, mixed media, 25 x 25 cm, 2012, was the fourth highest sold at N1.8m.
   Shortly after the private preview of the Arthouse auction, last week, there were indications that the chase for top sales would be between late Ben Enwonwu’s Dancer, (1980), oil on canvas, 76 x 91.2, Nwoko’s Praise Singer and El Anatsui’s Flight, (1989), oil on wood panels 25.4 x 119.4 cm.
  Also, during the preview, Alatise’s work was the cynosure of viewers at The Wheatbaker’s upper floor where over 100 lots were mounted.
   At the end of the hammer price sales, Enwonwu sold for N5.5m while Anatsui got N5m making second and third while Alatise, again, took fourth on the top 10.
  So far, Enwonwu (1917-1994) is Nigeria’s most expensive artist as ArtHouse Contemporary’s seventh edition, last November, recorded N28 million (£125, 000) sale of his sculpture, Anyanwu (142.2 cm., excluding the base, 1956).
   At N28m, Anyanwu is an auction record for Enwonwu, even at the international art market. The artist’s last auction record was £66, 000 (N16 million naira) for a 1957 piece titled Negritude (acrylic and watercolour on card (120 x 75 cm), sold at Bonhams’ Africa Now London, U.K., in 2009.
  And when Bonhams’ next gathering of African artists hold on May 23, 2012, in London, Enwonwu may not be the favourite as Anatsui appears to be more favoured.
    With as much as N90m worth of sales for Arthouse and N38m for Terra Kulture Mydrim last month, the year appears to have started on a good note for the art market.
Peju Alatise's mixed media, Ascension, (2011), 122 x 182.9 cm.
 Top 20 sales from the 108 lots HERE.

IN the Arthouse’s tradition of dedicating a section of every auction for charity, works of Duke Asidere, Oyerinde Olotu, Kolade Oshinowo and George Osodi were the charity lot sold for cancer patients in collaboration with Chartered Bank. Also sold for charity were two “signed jerseys” of Liverpool FC and a piece of football. It was assured that for every amount realised from the charity sales, Chartered Bank would match such figure to support the fight against cancer. A total of N2million, 290, 000 was raised from the charity sales.
CEO of Arthouse Contemporary, Lagos, Kavita Chellaram and Art auction Specialist, Nana Sonoiki, during a press preview of the May, 2012 sales
  On expanding the horizon of Nigerian art beyond Africa, the CEO of Arthouse, Mrs Kavita Chellaram had earlier disclosed that the ultimate goal of the auction house is to take Nigerian art to international fairs and other global art markets. During the preview of the auction, Chellaram noted that the upsurge of talents in the Nigerian visual arts profession is potent enough to make impact overseas.
  Specifically, she assured that “in the future we hope to take Nigerian art to Jo’burg art fair; we are looking beyond the auctions.”

All the results HERE

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