Saturday 16 November 2013

For eleventh Arthouse auction, more African artists attempt the megabuck sales

Last night at the preview of Arthouse Contemporary Lagos auction

By Tajudeen Sowole        
In the past ten editions of its art auction, Lagos-based Arthouse Contemporary had featured few artists from other parts of Africa and the Diaspora. But the eleventh edition of the auction, which opened with preview from yesterday till Sunday, with the sale on Monday, November 18, 2013 at The Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, features more artists across Africa.

According to the founder of Arthouse Contemporary auction house, Mrs Kavita Chellaram, Ghanaian, Kenyan, South African, Ivorian, Beninese, and Tanzanian artists will join their Nigerian counterparts in an auction featuring 117 lots. 

Sponsored by Renaissance Capital, the eleventh Arthouse auction also features “four charity lots to assist one of our artists who has in the past also donated works for charity causes”. Some of the foreign and Nigerian artists, Chellaram states are featuring for the first time. The list of the debutants include Godfried Donkor, David Asumah, Cyrus Kabiru, Lolade Cmeron-Cole, Jelili Atiku, Emmanuel Adiamah, Wallace Ejoh, Larry Isimah, Micheal W.Soi, Ludovic Fadairo, Atta Kwami, Segun Adejumo, Kofi Setordji, Tete Azankpo, Bob-Nosa Uwagboe, Ola-Dele Kuku, Reuben Ugbine, Frederic Bruly-Bouabre and Andrew Verster.

With a total sale of N124, 398, 500 (785, 315.US dollar) recorded at the last auction held in April this year, representing 88 percent of 121 Lots, Arthouse hopes for a higher and wider appreciation of African art during the sales on Monday. This much is indicated in the works of the regular masters such as Ben Enwonwu, El-Anatsui, Demas Nwoko, Bruce Onobrakpeya,  Kolade Oshinowo, Ablade Glove and Abiodun Olaku. 

Bringing what looks like a maquette of Enwonwu’s famous sculpture, The Drummer and a bust, Fulani Girl into the lots alongside Anatsui’s Ends and Means Committee, Nwoko’s painting Senegalese Girl appear like a loaded auction of many star-sales. Enwonwu’s The Drummer (1978) – from the artist’s oeuvre of the drum themes - is a well-known stylized sculptural figure of a man and his drum mounted at the façade of Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) building on Marina Street, Lagos Island.  

For Anatsui, his wood panel Ends and Means Committee (2013) is an apparent indication that the artist has not exactly let go his wood period even though huge soft metal of his works are currently populating the art spaces of Europe and the U.S. At the last auction, a similar work titled Lanh with an eyebrow raiser-date 2003-13 sold for N12 million Naira. It was a head-to-head sale with Enwonwu’s Untitled sold for the same price.

One of the art pieces for the auction, a painting by late Gani Odutokun titled Dry Earth

When the auctioneer, U.K-based John Dabney opens the sales on Monday, his hammer will take off on four charity lots as part of the auction house’s contribution to fund-raising for artist, Oyerinde Olotu who has been battling health issue in the past six months. The charity lots, which are donations from artists, include Fidelis Odogwu’s Village Square, metal sculpture, 2010; Virtuous I, a painting dated 2013, by Alimi Adewale; Wiz Kid, a mixed media on canvas dated 2013, by painter, Kunle Adegborioye; and Tolu Aliki’s Village Square, acrylic on canvas, 2013.

Meanwhile, a consortium of concerned collectors and art galleries have set up Artists Health Management Insurance designed to give artists financial support in healthcare. The initiative, Chellaram states “became necessary with recurring cases of artists seeking financial help to take care of their health challenges”. Arthouse had also used one of its auctions to raise fund for David Dale who suffered partial stroke last year.

The health insurance scheme, which Chellaram says would have a management team to be headed by an accountant, is the initiative of Arthouse, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Nike Davies-Okundaye and Bolanle Austen Peters of Terra Kulture. The secretary of the health insurance scheme, Chellaram discloses, “is Olu Amoda”.

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