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Enwonwu’s Yoruba Man to headline Arthouse auction

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Yoruba Man by Enwonwu

For its 23rd auctions in Lagos, Arthouse Contemporary will be bringing into the fore, quite a list of rare works by Nigerian and other African artists. Among such pieces is Yoruba Man, a study of the male figure by Ben Enwonwu.

The auction, which starts with previews from November 22 to 24, holds on Monday, 25, 2019 at Kia Showroom, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Again, the U.K-based John Dabney is expected to conduct the night’s event.

Apart from Enwonwu, other old masters whose works are on the list of 92 lots for the auction include, Uche Okeke, Uzo Egonu, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Ablade Glover, Rufus Ogundele, Ben Osawe, Akinola Lasekan, David Dale, Jacob Afolabi, and Muraina Oyelami.

Estimated at ₦ 12,000,000-18,000,000 ($33,340-50,000), Yoruba Man, a gouache on paper 63.5 x 49 cm. (25 x 191⁄4 in.), is dressed in traditional attire.

The provenance attached to the drawing says, “the figure raises his left hand, suggesting that he is in mid-speech or addressing a crowd.”

Described as one of the 20th century Nigeria’s renowned visual artists, Enwonwu, according to Arthouse’s provenance cemented the importance of modern African art at the time of looming independence from colonial rule.

“Enwonwu articulated a language and vision for African art that was defined by its own rules rather than the limitations of Western art-historical models,” the auction house stated. “Educated at Ruskin College, Oxford, and the Slade School of Art, London, Enwonwu was influenced by European modernism and the bourgeoning philosophies of the Negritude movement, which placed emphasis on Africa’s cultural history and artistic traditions as a defense against colonial oppression.”

At Arthouse’s last auction in May this year, 82 lots by leading masters and contemporary artists, recorded total sales of N103,775,000 ($288,264). Held at the same venue the top sale of the evening was Enwonwu’s ‘Ogolo’, a watercolour on paper dated 1992 and sold for N41,125,000m ($114,236).

Also, another Enwonwu’s painting titled ‘Negritude’, watercolour on paper dated 1994, sold for N9.4m ($26,111).

For the next auction, artists from the contemporary age whose works are featuring in the November sales include include Victor Ehikhamenor, Yinka Shonibare, Lemi Ghariokwu, Ben Osaghae, Gbenga Offo, Rom Isichei, Chike Obeagu, Peju Alatise, Victor Ekpuk, Sokari Douglas Camp and Duke Asidere, among others. Artists from the West African region outside of Nigeria, including Kofi Agorsor, Dominique Zimpke, Ajard Bernard Ategwa, Nana Nyan Acquah, Armand Boua, George Hughes and Godfrey Donkor.

Four charity lots donated for Arthouse Foundation, non-profit artist residency programme, are works by Chike Obeagu, Jimmy Nwanne, Gerry Nnubia and Uchay Joel Chima.

The proceeds of the charity lots “will go directly toward supporting the activities of the Arthouse Foundation, including exhibitions, residencies and workshops.”

During the last edition, the event also included charity lots in support of the Lagos Biennial, which raised N2.20m for the second edition that’s currently showing.


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