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Artsville

By Toyin Akinosho   |   12 February 2017   |   1:43 am

National Theatre, not home to the best of theatric performances

Affordable Art’s Not As Cheap As Imagined
The arthouse crowd was feted to visual art show, music, drinks and entertainment last Thursday evening at the Arthouse Contemporary’s Art Night Out, inside the Kia Showroom on Victoria Island. The event was a preview for the “Affordable Art Auction” the following Saturday February 11, 2017. Over strains of Falana’s mellow re-arrangements of popular, 80s songs, about a hundred guests bantered over quality and prices of several works of paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture. “The Affordable Art Auction aims to attract seasoned collectors and first time buyers with all artworks estimated below N1,000,000”, Arthouse Contemporary said. “The auction features works by emerging artists, modern masters, and Africa’s most prominent contemporary artists, all scaled to a more affordable and accessible price point”.

Translated, the company is aware that its main yearly quarterly auctions are quite pricey even if they have become the top draw in the country’s growing art market. The auction house wants to “build a network of local clients to create a more self-sufficient market”. Given that context, the question is: Is 900,000Naira, really, an affordable price? Some of the pieces on view would be comfortable in the main auction. One of that is Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Three Elephant Masquerades, a 2011 print on serigraph clearly brought into the show to assure would-be buyers that some of these “affordable” art are comparable to the top sellers in the main auction. Some other works are on the show due more to the artists’ star power than the works themselves. Abiodun Olaku’s Folake comes across as an incomplete experiment in water colour by this leading painter. The main appeal is certainly not the central figure.

The dots on the browning paper, against a background of a charged troubled atmosphere, provides room for a little, lingering thought. To offer that for 600,000Naira? Seriously? Olu Amoda, better known as a sculptor who animates large metal works, and beats massive drawings out of steel, provides two drawings, Posing, with effective lines and geometric shapes, but they don’t grab me, even if the 200,000Naira starting price looks tempting. An artist to pay attention to is Sade Thompson. Her Tribute To Ojeikere, (Oil on Canvas) is carefully wrought, delicate design experiment that speaks with eloquence to the subject of Hair design that the late photographer, Ojeikere, was famed for.

Nigeria Returns To Venice, Officially
Jelili Atiku is one of the 120 artists on the curator’s list for the 57th Venice Biennale, running from May to November 2017. He’d be exhibiting his socially charged art performance at the Gardini Arsenale, the locational heart of the event. Atiku was selected by the curatoral panel headed by the Biennale’s director Christine Macel , but this is just one aspect of the Venice Biennale. Nigeria, as a country will be presenting works of a group of artists at its own National Pavillion, for the first time in over 50 years. Peju Alatise, Victor Ehikhamenor, Qudus Onikeku and Wana Udobang will hoist the Nigerian flag at the country’s own pavillion. They will be exhibiting their art, installation work, video projection, performed arts, poetry and paintings, at the Pavillion.

The exhibition is assembled by private initiative, through the two year old Rele Gallery. It’s not yet clear how the gallery got the funding. Nigerians have been involved in the Venice Biennale without the country itself being involved in official capacity, as the Rele Gallery-led show is. The last edition of the Biennale was curated by the Nigerian critic and art historian, Okwui Enwezor. Ms Macel’s theme for the 2017 edition of the event is non ideological. She simply wants a show about art for artists. Viva Arte Viva, as she calls it, “is an exclamation, a passionate outcry for art and the state of the artist. 

Viva Arte Viva is a Biennale designed with artists, by artists and for artists, about the forms they propose, the questions they ask, the practices they develop and the ways of life they choose. It’s a complete departure from Okwui Enwezor’s theme: All The World’s Futures, which brought in works from outside the metropolis, that spoke of the grim realities of the planet and for which some critics labeled it “joyless”.

Bloom Takes Marcia Kure to Cape Town
Ugoma Adegoke’s Bloom Art is presenting the work of Marcia Kure at the Cape Town Art Fair, in South Africa, which is in its fifth edition. The Fair runs from February 17-19, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Kure, based in Princeton, in the United States, will be presenting pieces from her ‘Of Saints And Vagabonds’ series. Kure is a significant Nigerian artist, whose works have appeared at the Sharjah Biennial, the Seville Biennal and the La Triennale, three robustly curated exhibitions which line up, in terms of the art world’s perception of high quality, only after the Documenta, the Venice and the Sao Paulo Biennales.

The daughter of a former Nigerian minister of Culture, Ms. Kure came to national recognition with the winning of the first Uche Okeke prize for drawing in 1994. Married to Chika Okeke-Agulu, the professor of African art history at Princeton, she has lived abroad for over 15 years. Adegoke, founder of the Life House initiative, runs Bloom Art as a visual art promotion agency which organises salon exhibits and pop up art shows.

The Carnivore Runs Out Of Print, Gets New Supplies
The first set of copies of Toni Kan’s novel, The Carnivorous City, has run out and the publishers Cassava Press has had to scramble to get new supplies to book shops nationwide. “I went everywhere during the end of year holidays and I couldn’t find one single copy”, says Princess Irede Abumere, whose book club, Sunshine, selected the novel for its members’ holiday reading. Mr. Kan said in a telephone response that fresh supplies of the book have been distributed to bookshops by Cassava.

But he declined to mention how many copies were printed the first time. Cassava could not be reached for comment. The Carnivorous City, about the disappearance of a high profile white collar criminal is, in large part, a tour guide to Lagos, showcasing the city’s posh hang outs in parallel with its seedier settlements and providing aerial character sketches on them. Its basic narrative explains how a large, poorly serviced metropolis can make a dastardly criminal out of even the most honest individual. Mr. Kan is a best seller by Nigerian standards. His last book, a collection of short stories titled: Nights of The Creaking Bed, published by the same company, sold 10,000 copies.
Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency


In this article:
Toyin Akinosho


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