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Ajogwu, Castellote’s book comes handy for art collectors

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Art collector, Ugoma Adegoke (left); co-author, Prof. Fabian Ajowgu; co-author, Jess Castellote; chairman of event, Okey Anueyiagu; Mrs Dudu Peterside and Femi Richard at the launch of … in Lagos

With Nigeria lagging behind in the global art space, which contributes over $40 billion yearly, the launch Collecting Art: A Handbook, co-authored by two art enthusiasts, Fabian Ajogwu and Jess Castellote, has been described as a veritable instrument that can change the narratives for the better. This is apt with the absence of public institutions where the act of art collection, a big component of the art space, could be taught in Nigeria.

These views were expressed by artists, art enthusiasts and collectors at presentation last Friday in Lagos. At the event, renowned art collector, Femi Richard observed said the book was timely intervention in art collection evolution and improvement of social practice of art collections in Nigeria. He said book could address the situation by providing a smooth transition from unserious collector to a dedicated and conscientious collector.

For Castellote, art has continued to contribute to the growth and development of society, adding, “Collecting Arts is not just about collecting art or how to collect art but about the practice of collecting art and about helping people become better, organised and more independent collectors.

“We want collectors to collect art in a better way. There are collectors that are organised and those that are chaotic. The approach is to collect art by being knowledgeable. Serious collectors are ethical in their approach to auction houses and other stakeholders. A good collector is prudent, does due diligence before buying a work, has character, is focused and is knowledgeable. Collectors must be respective to the right of authors.

They should treat artists and auction houses with respect. I hope this book will improve social practice of art collection.”Chairman of the occasion, Okey Anueyiagu, said the book has reawakened the need for Nigerians to do something about eroding reading culture in our schools. Describing the book as incredible and insightful work, he called for the promotion of reading culture among the younger ones. Anueyiagu commended the authors for contributing so much to the educational landscape of this country and encouraged them to keep writing, saying it was the only way to curb the problem of the glorification of illiteracy in Nigeria.

“Ajogwu has contributed so much in the educational landscape without knowing it with over 100 books to his credits,” he said.Another art enthusiast, Mrs. Dudu Peterside, said the book is timely, adding that the book would make people understand the psychology of collecting art. Peterside assured that the book would inspire new collectors, old ones and those who aspire to become art collectors in future.

Earlier in his remarks, Ajogwu, a senior advocate of Nigeria and professor of Corporate Governance, Lagos Business School, said it took about five years to write the book, as they wanted to get the best from the book. He expressed concerns that Nigeria is not effectively playing in the global art space, which contributes over $40 billion annually. According to Ajogwu, the book is a product of friendship, shared values, disagreement and a quest to increase the art space in Nigeria, adding that the book is about understanding contemporary works. He said globally, art business has grown, but Nigeria has failed to play effectively in the art business, adding that there is a whole lot to be done.

According to him, “The art industry in Nigeria is open and does not have enough regulations. Can I buy an artwork and decide to do whatever I want to do with it? As a result of issues like these, wealth is lost in the country. Some understand the practice of art but very few understand the business and people, who understand the business, are the ones that succeed.

“We need to protect buyers from buying fake works and from buying overpriced works. What do we do about transmitting arts, terms of sales and usage and inherent arts? We want to support a space that is growing. It is not just about the passion but the returns on investment. The book presents different opportunities to different people and we must be active participants of the space.”

The event, which was anchored by Ugoma Adegoke, an art collector and gallery owner, was attended by Prof. Emmanuel Elebute, a surgeon and the founder of the Lagoon Hospital, Lagos, President of Nigeria Bar Association(NBA), A.B. Mahmud, Sylva Ogwemoh, foreign and local artists and collectors among others.


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Fabian Ajogwu

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