In Lagos, Arthouse Auction Makes Record Sales
After a first quarter of the year’s lull in Nigerian art market, worsened by uncertainty in the political landscape and a hostile economy, the country’s premiere art auction house, Arthouse Contemporary’s sales in May has returned collectors’ confidence.
El Anatsui, Yusuf Grillo and Ben Enwonwu asserted their lead in the secondary art market just as Arthouse recorded its largest sales till date.
During the 14th edition of the bi-annual sales at The Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, the total sales accrued from 116 lots was put at over N124 million.
It was the largest art sales for any art auction event in Nigeria. Prior to the sales, the same auction house had, among other impressive sales recorded N106 million in a May 2012 auction.
Arthouse also holds a record sale for one piece when the auction house sold a sculpture titled Anyanwu by Enwonwu for N28 million.
According to the results of the 14th auction released by Arthouse Contemporary a few days after the event, a total sale of N124, 834,00 (one hundred and twenty four million, eight hundred and thirty four thousand naira) was recorded.
“Featuring 116 lots from the region’s most celebrated artists, the auction continues to set record prices for contemporary African art, bringing in a total of N124,834,000 (USD$624,170) during the evening’s sale,” said Nana Sonoiki, a sales expert at Arthouse.
Despite not making a single record sale for any of the regular masters, the 14th edition was apparently a success story to tell.
Four works by Anatsui, Grillo and Enwonwu made up about 35 percent of the total sales for 116 lots. With what the auction house described as newest woodwork, Zata, by Anatsui, sold for N15, 400, 000 (77,000 USD) led top of the sales.
The Ghanaian born ‘Nigerian master’; also added another impressive sale with an older wood panels entitled Tror, which sold for N7, 480, 000 (37,400 USD). However, second on top of the sales was another master, Yusuf Grillo’s Truly Hijab?, an oil on board, sold for N11,000,000 (55,000 USD).
A fibre glass work, Head of Caroline, sold for N6, 600,000 (33,000 USD), and The Boxer, a wood sculpture for N5,500,000 (27,500 USD) rescued late master, Enwonwu from being excluded from the top three sold artists of the night. Enwonwu has been having quite a dominant share of the African art auctions in Lagos and the U.K, since the secondary art market surfaced in 2008.
IN the last few Arthouse auctions, Anatsui and Grillo have been on each other’s trails in boosting the sales. For example, in a November 2012 auction, Grandma’s Cloth Series VI (Oil on wooden panels, 132 x 262 cm) by the Ghanaian, lifted the ninth auction as the work was sold for N11.4 million. During the same auction, Grillo’s painting, Sango Worshipper (Oil on board 122 x 56 cm., 1961) estimated to fetch N7.5 -8.5 million added strength to the auction as it was sold for N7.4 million.
Unlike the previous auction, held last November, it seemed there was no major record among the young and non-regular leading masters during the May 2015 sales Recall that last year, Stilt Dancers (oil on canvas, 160 x 90cm, 1981) by Oshinowo b.1948 sold for N6m and a sculpture, Possibilities (Bronze, 157 X 176.5 cm, 2013) from Bunmi Babatunde’s gymnastic series sold for N3, 740, 000 million naira. Interestingly, Babatunde, had his world auction record earlier with Possibilities, (ebony wood, 255 x 16.5 x 42cm, 2014) sold for (£31,250) at a Bonhams’ Africa Now auction, London.
Also, at the same London sales, a painting titled Two Sisters by Oshinowo was sold for £43,000.
Ahead of the May 2015 sales, Sonoiki, recalled that since 2007, when the auction house was founded, it has focused on modern and contemporary art from West Africa. “With auctions held twice a year in Lagos, Nigeria, Arthouse Contemporary aims to create awareness of the scope of contemporary art in the region, encourage international recognition towards its talented artists, and strengthen the economy of its art market.” She added that “as West Africa’s premier auction house, Arthouse Contemporary has sold over 1,100 pieces of art worth nearly eight million dollars over the past seven years.”
Noting that contemporary African art was becoming one of the fastest growing global art markets, Sonoiki assured of the quality of the 14th edition of Arthouse sales. “This edition of the auction will feature both master works from the modern period and cutting-edge contemporary art from the region’s most celebrated artists.”
She was proven right about two weeks later as the record sales added to total N1.1 billion for previously sold one thousand and one hundred art pieces since 2008. Arthouse increases its over all sales for 14 auctions to over N1.24 billion. Perhaps, with a more stable economy and polity, the next auction, holding in November this year would add strength to collectors’ confidence.
Sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, Veuve Clicquot, and Mouton Cadet, the Arthouse 14th auction had charity sales in continuation of its CSR. “The auction also included four charity lots from celebrated artists Nike Okundaye, Modupe Fadugba, Tola Wewe, and Ogbami Alenosi that raised N1,800,000 million in support of Standard Chartered Bank’s Seeing is Believing, a charity which works to tackle avoidable blindness,” Sonoiki said.
Commenting on the rising value of African art, after the last sales, Sonoiki argued that African art was. Heading to the forefront of the global art market, “to become one of the fastest growing markets,” with prices of art works rising at an unprecedented pace.
She boasted that Arthouse’s “bi-annual auctions have cemented themselves as an integral platform for the development of the African art market.”
Two years ago, the auction house expanded beyond its bi-annual sales to include the Arthouse Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to encourage the creative development of contemporary art in Nigeria; and Arthouse-The Space, which organises exhibitions of contemporary art.
In March, the sister outlet, Arthouse-The Space had showed the works of Nigerian artist Emeka Udemba. Next, according to Sonoiki, will be an exhibition of master, Grillo’s work “holding in October 2015.”
Founded in 2007, Arthouse Contemporary is an international auction house that focuses on modern and contemporary art from West Africa. With auctions held twice a year in Lagos, Nigeria, Arthouse Contemporary aims to create awareness of the scope of contemporary art in the region, encourage international recognition towards its talented artists, and strengthen the economy of its art market.
As West Africa’s premier auction house, Arthouse Contemporary has sold over 1,100 pieces of art worth over USD$8 million (eight million dollars) over the past seven years.
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