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Sammy Olagbaju-It’s Been One Year
It will be one year, next Saturday, September 23, since Sammy Olagbaju passed away. The Nigerian patriarch of art collecting was in the middle of preparations of his second book when he left. “For a long time, Sammy had wanted to publish a book that would show important works from his collection and put on record some of his remembrances of interactions with artists”, recalls Jess Castellotte, the architect, author and critic. It would have been a follow up to Contemporary Nigerian Art In Lagos Private Collections: New Trees in an Old Forest, which he sponsored. Olagbaju saw art collecting as a way of building relationships with artists. Eight years ago, he disclosed how anxious be became when he first went to an art exhibition in the early 1960s and how that anxiety turned him into a compulsive art buyer. He recollected the first exhibition he attended at the Goethe Institut, then the most important site of exhibition of contemporary art, on Broad Street, in Lagos. The Oshogbo artists, whose works were on view, would come and whisper to him to ask: “Egbon how do we go about pricing our works to these European Oyibo expatriate art collectors?” Soon he found himself considering… “Are these artists going to last: Are they going to keep creating these works? “ Having seen the art and enjoyed it, Olagbaju said he didn’t want to part with the experience. He wanted to keep it. As he showed up at exhibition after exhibition, buying works, he started looming large in the consciousness of the artists. “At some point Bruce Onobrakpeya asked me… ‘Look do you sell these works?’”, he told this writer in his book lined, art filled sitting room close to the Lagoon in Old Ikoyi. Olagbaju helped, in a large measure, to Nigerianise art collecting; to convert the tribe of collectors from white expatriates to mainly Nigerian and to turn the country into a leading market for visual art on the continent.

82-Year-Old Novel Is The Main Book Of LABAF 2017
Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here is the main book of the 19th Lagos Book and Art Festival, holding at the Freedom Park on Broad Street from November 6 to 12, 2017. It will be discussed in a panel conversation. Parts of it will be dramatized during the Festival’s opening. This 1935 novel imagines a vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant, fear mongering demagogue winning the 1936 Presidential elections in the United States. Just like Donald Trump, whose emergence as President the book anticipated 81 years earlier, the main character Buzz Windrip promised poor, angry voters that he would make America proud and prosperous once more. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula and made the chances of a nuclear war more certain than any American President ever did. In It Can’t Happen Here, Windrip took the country down a darker path. As in Mr Lewis’ fictional 1936, Liberals all over the world, in 2017, are debating whether Mr. Trump’s administration will last its full tenure. It Can’t Happen Here was selected because of how glumly it fits the theme of LABAF 2017: Eruptions: Global Fractures and Our Common Humanity. 15 books will be discussed over a period of six days.


Calendar- The Festival Season: Art, Book And Drama
From October 5 – 8, 2017, SMO Art Gallery is showing the works of three irreverent Nigerian artists Olumide Onadipe, Nengi Omuku and Taiye Idahor at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. Meanwhile, the same SMO opens The Wheatbaker Art Collection at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi, from Sept 18 – Nov 17 and presents Modupeola Fadugba’s solo exhibition: Heads Up, Keep Swimming at the Temple Muse from November 2 to November 30. Those are individual shows. The Film Festival Lights, Camera, Africa heralds the end-of-year Festival season in Lagos with its 2017 edition themed Reset, holding at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos from 29 September – 1 October, 2017. Felabration, a yearly event dedicated to celebrating the iconic musician Fela, runs from Oct 9, 2017 – Oct 15, 2017. Art X Lagos, the new, largely conceptual art exhibition, will run from Nov 3 – Nov 5. The Lagos Book and Art Festival, tagged Africa’s largest culture picnic, will hold from November 6 to 12, 2017 and Ake Book and Art Festival, in Abeokuta, will run from November 14 to 18, 2017

JAG Revisits The Art Of The Struggle Era
Works of black South African artists taken to Germany from 1986 to 1989, to strengthen global consciousness about the evils of apartheid, form the core of an ongoing exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, located in the central business district of Africa’s most prosperous city. The show, entitled A Labour of Love, features many of the 600 works acquired by the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt on Main through Hans Blum, a German diplomat then working in South Africa. A Labour of Love, had an earlier run in Frankfurt, Germany in 2015-2016. Mr Blum had lived in South Africa from the early 1960s until the late 1970s, “His involvement in the anti-apartheid movement led him to recognise the power of contemporary South African art as a means of creating awareness about the political situation in the country”, according to the exhibition statement. “Blum was the right person for the job”. The collection on view at JAG, however, consists of new work that were not part of those Mr. Blum took to Germany. These include ten new works produced by relatively young artists who spent time with the collection at the Weltkulturen Museum. Among these artists are Gabi Ngcobo (who with Yvette Mutumba curated this show) and four South African former students from the Wits School of Arts, Michelle Monareng, Matshelane Xhakaza, Chad Cordeiro and Nathaniel Sheppard. The first exhibition of the works that Mr. Blum took to Germany, took place in Frankfurt in 1989.

• Compiled by staff of Festac News Agency


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