|Yinka Shonibare MBE.|
Two years after his formal home visit, Nigerian-British artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE, returns to Lagos, his city of birth. Courtesy of ART X Lagos, Shonibare will feature in the third edition of the fair, holding on November 2-4, 2018 at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
In 2016, Shonibare was in Nigeria for his Wind Sculpture VI series, a outdoor tour exhibition mounted at Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. His return, in November to the Nigerian art space, comes as a boost to the young ART X Lagos.
Last year, the fair featured U.S. -based artist, Njideka Akunyili Crosby in the Talk section of the yearly event. According to Tokini Peterside, founder and director of ART X Lagos, Shonibare will be the "star" attraction at the 2018 edition. "This year, we have Shonibare as a guest artist", Peterside told select guests in Lagos on Friday. She enthused that the fair is growing bolder with "18 gallleries: 10 from outside Nigeria and eight within". She noted that the fair has recorded increasing number of visitors generated by gaĺleries from across Africa.
Peterside, whose role in the fair, has been like that of an artistic director -- since the exit of Bisi Silva -- was in conversation with some of the exhibiting artists, on Friday. On her spotlights were Nike Okundaye, Duke Asidere, Dotun Popoola, Gerald Chukwuma and Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola.
Responding to Peterside's question about contemporary art in Nigeria, Asidere noted the speed of appreciation in the country, recently. And if contents define contemporaneity, Asidere, a cubist, argued in favour of subsisting issues that an artist contends with. "We live in contemporary times and with several issues". ART X, he said "just expanded the space" to give artists wider expressions.
In three years, how much of impact has ART X made on its immediate environment? Chukwuma, whose work will be shown by Ghana-based Gallery 1957 captured the three years of the fair: "For the first time, I saw galleries from West Africa came together". The artist added that "and now my showing under Gallery 1957 is exciting".
For Popoola, a metal sculptor whose work transcends the Nigerian space, showing at ART X, under Signature Gallery, he said, is an extension of his past relationship with the Lagos-based gallery. He shared his thoughts on one of his works with the theme 'Irin Ajo' and 'Irin tI ajo', coined from two Yoruba identical vowels, but of different meanings.
For a fair that lures young artists and art enthusiasts, perhaps to appease sponsors, the strategy has worked well so far. Renowned textile artist, Okundaye admitted being hooked on the youth strength of the fair. "I am participating this year because of the spirit of the youths In ART X". For the youth energy that she has seen in ART X, Okundaye will be "showing 'Eniyan L'aso Mi' (Humanity is my Strength).
Relishing on the youth strength of ART X,
Peterside assured that the winner of last year Prize, Habeeb Andu will also be showing in November.
In June, a new winner of ART X Prize, Aderemi-Ibitola was announced for the 2018 edition. Also in conversation on Friday, AderemI-Ibitola explained that her work was inspired by social media.
Amaechi Okobi, Group Head, Corporate Communications, Access Bank eulogised Nigerian artists as "our ambassadors". He assured that. "we are here to project them". Specifically, Okobi described Shonibare as "a phenomenon ambassador".
Access Bank had been the lead sponsor of ART X Lagos since 2016.