By Tajudeen Sowole
Art galleries' representation of artists in major outlets such as exhibitions and other art market spaces as well as in general management of creative professionals is not exactly new in Nigeria, particularly Lagos, which is a major art hub city in Africa. But when a non-art gallery group ventures into artist representation, it raises curiousity.
For those who have been following gallery representation of artists in Nigeria, the complexity of relationship with artists is well known. For the new face of managing creative professionals, artist/designer Victor Ehikhamenor and artist/jeweler, Mode Aderinokun are currently being represented by a Lagos based non-art gallery group. Interestingly, the two artists are among the fresh faces of contemporary space in the fledging Nigerian art.
Indeed, managing creative professionals of other areas of The Arts such as in music, film as well as performing art, generally, by non-core practitioners in these fields are not strange. Importing such practice into visual arts, particularly when some artists involved may already have galleries representing them could be complex. "There is nothing to worry about," Rayo Falade of Temple Management Company (TMC) says to her guest during a chat. "Our focus is wider than gallery representation; goes beyond selling art as it include legal advisory and merchandising." Also, managing an artist's financing and preparing them for future, Falade adds, are among TMC's focus.
Trajectory of artist representation in Nigeria has been troubled with quite a lot of unpleasant experience on both sides of the supposedly agreement. While artists, in most cases complain of lack of adequate financial commitment, the gallery always put up defence of suspicious and lack of trust. Every artist, Falade argues, should be able to identify which gallery best suits the kind of art he or she does. "Helping artists to identify the gallery that can properly represent their kind of work is exactly what we do."
Beyond regular and traditional spaces of art appreciation such as gallery, art fair exhibition and others, TMC, according to Falade "expands artists' scope to collaborate with fashion designers, musicians and others in the entertainment field."
In a very dynamic setting of established and emerging artists such as Nigeria's, what informed TMC's choice of who to manage? The blend of traditional and contemporary contents in Ehikhamenor, she says, "is the attraction for us because we believe in our culture and heritage." Mode, a relatively new and young artist, Rayo explains, represents the wide scope of TMC by looking beyond the established artists.
Described as a 360 management company, TMC also has among its list of creative professionals being managed across disciplines of The Arts. The company, according to a statement, has signed "management deals with some of Nigeria’s biggest talents, including Nigeria’s biggest record label Mavin Records, renowned disc jockey DJ Jimmy Jatt, media personalities Bunmi Davies and Funmi Iyanda."
Formally opened for business in March 2016, TMC, the promoters assures, set out with a mission “to continually improve on content, bridge the gulf between local talents and their foreign counterparts in line with international best practices."
Tapping from his base as a designer, Ehikhamenor has brought a blend of nativity with contemporary contents into Nigerian art space. This much he exports across the world. In 2014, for example, he showed Chronicles Of The Enchanted World, a solo exhibition, at The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) London, U.K.
Trained in the art of animation and motion picture special effect (SFX) at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, US, Mode made her debut solo art exhibition in 2012 at Tarino Tower, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Stared operations in March 2016, TMC, according to its management in the business of entertainment, sports, media and art to “bring Nigerian talents to the same table with their international counterparts.” Founded by investor and art aficionado, Idris Olorunnimbe, the company “has set out with a mission ‘to continually improve on content, bridge the gulf between local talents and their foreign counterparts in line with international best practices’. “
Mr. Olorunnimbe explained TMC vision: “With the constant expansion of the entertainment industry and growth of sporting activities, our vision is to remain the leading African talent and event management outfit, representing the biggest talents in entertainment, sports, media, the arts and other relevant areas.”