OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
Modern & Contemporary African Art Bonhams ‘Africa Now’ sale on 22 May was a resounding success and, with over twenty new world records being set, was the highest-value auction of African Modern & Contemporary Art ever held.
To find out more about our auctions contact: Giles Peppiatt email@example.com
Pictures you don’t see every day.
East Fog by Leon Krige
FNB JoburgArtFair 3
1. Ben Enwonwu The Mirror Sculptures Sold: £361,000 ($560,000)
2. Ben Enwonwu Eid il Fitr, Kano (detail) Sold: £193,000 ($300,000)
3. Ben Enwonwu Anyanwu Sold: £133,000 ($206,000)
International Auctioneers and Valuers - bonhams.com/africanow
27-29 September 2013 Sandton Convention Centre
First National Bank – a division of FirstRand Bank Limited. An Authorised Financial Services and Credit Provider (NCRCP20).
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
47 CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR’S LETTER
INTERVIEWS, PROFILES Building an African Franchise London: African Art Takes Centre Stage
Up Close With ‘Okhai Ojeikere
SNEAK PEEKS, TRENDS Video Art Powered by Samsung Nicholas Hlobo at Stevenson Gallery FNB Art Prize Having Travelled Far Pieter Hugo, Kin Wangechi Mutu, A Fantastic Journey Ojeikere and Stephens, Networks and Voids
12 12 13 13 14
18 22 26
31 MARKET FILE
AUCTIONS, INVESTMENT, GALLERY, ARTIST DOSSIER Ed Cross on Being a Sculptor, African Art and Developments in the Online Market 32 Arthouse Contemporary Auction Preview Bonhams, South African Sale Preview
Review: Lagos Auctions, 1st Half 2013
As Photography Gains a Foothold on the Nigerian Market Kavita Chellaram: Making a Case for Nigerian Art
35 38 40 44 48
Drinking Well: Chateau Palmer
TY Bello: Through an Artist’s Lens Exhibition Reviews
76 OMENKA READS Must Read Books
FNB Joburg Art Fair
Fools Eye: Innocent Photographs
REPORTS STUDIO VISIT, SHOW & TELL, REVIEWS, Uche James-Iroha: Power and Powers
LagosPhoto Festival Peer Conversation
64 65 66
78 80 82 86 90
CONTRIBUTORS Bomi Odufunade
Bomi Odufunade is a writer and consultant at Dash & Rallo Art Advisory, a bespoke international consultancy specialising mainly in contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. She advises on all aspects of establishing and building art collections, providing art consulting services for private art collectors and corporations. Her writings on art and the art market have appeared in a variety of publications, including Arise, Huffington Post, Contemporary and New African. She is the London editor for Omenka magazine. Previously, she worked at Thames & Hudson, Tate Modern and Haunch of Venison gallery in London. She is based between London, Lagos, and New York.
Joost Bosland holds a B.A (summa cum laude) in Philosophy of Art, Art History, and Criticism from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Bosland played a key role in the expansion of and continues to manage the art fair programme at Stevenson consisting of Frieze New York, Art Basel and Art Hong Kong. He has curated a number of group shows including the well received show, This is Our Time, with work by Marc Bijl, Pieter Hugo, Thomas Hirschhorn and Glenn Ligon. Bosland works with several leading contemporary artists like Zander Blom, Dineo Bopape, Willem Boshoff, Meschac Gaba, Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi.
Silvia was born in Venice, Italy, studied German, Russian and History of Art in Venice, Berlin and Moscow. After working for the Department of Education and Promotion at the Venice Biennale 2007, she moved to Paris where she obtained a postgraduate degree at the European School of Management – ESCP. Before joining Artlogic in 2012 as curator of the FNB Joburg Art Fair, she worked at the French Institute in Paris as a coordinator of the Visual Arts Programme for the French-Russian Year 2010 and as gallery manager at Paris’ Baudoin Lebon Gallery.
Erin Haney, DPhil, (SOAS, University of London) is an independent curator and writer currently based in DC, and working with the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian. She has taught and written on historical and contemporary photography in West Africa and has co-authored a book on activism, arts funding and new coalitions of artists on the continent with Jennifer Bajorek. Her book, Photography and Africa (Reaktion Books, London, 2010) investigates the many themes that intertwine the photographs with the circumstances of their creation.
16–20 October 2013 Somerset House, West Wing, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Gergel is a curator at the African Artists’ Foundation in Lagos. He has organised several exhibitions including Nigeria Now: Emerging Trends of Contemporary Art in Nigeria (Art Africa Miami), and served as co-curator of Lagos Photo (2012). Gergel has contributed texts of art criticism to This Day Nigeria, Art South Africa, Geurnica, The New Museum Paper, and Interventions Journal. Gergel holds a Masters in Art History and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, New York (2012) and a first degree from New York University (2009). Gergel has worked in the Curatorial Departments of the Museum of Modern Art (Photography) and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Gergel will serve as managing editor of Art Base Africa, an online database of contemporary African artWW funded by the Prince Claus Fund.
Ed Cross who holds a degree in History of Art from Cambridge University, is a gallery director and curator specialising in Contemporary African Art. Ed is a pioneer in a field that has recently gained global attention. He spent over twenty years in East Africa working in fine art and publishing including eight years working as a sculptor in Kenya, before returning to the U.K. in 2009 when he set up Ed Cross Fine Art to represent contemporary African artists. Ed’s passion for contemporary art from Africa dates back 1988 when he left from his publishing job at Heinemann in London to set up his own business in Kenya. In 2004, he started collecting, exhibiting and writing about East African art in earnest, a field that was at the time virtually ignored by the mainstream arts establishment.
OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
OMENKA GALLERY +234 8184553331 OMENKAGALLERY.COM Sept 14–Oct 3, 2013
Cedric Nunn Call and Response Omenka Gallery 24 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos
Sept 27–29, 2013
Oct 5–19, 2013
Nnenna Okore and Adejoke Tugbiyele Matter as Metaphor
Okhai Ojeikere and Gary Stephens Networks and Voids: Modern Interpretations of Nigerian Hairstyles and Headdresses
FNB Joburg Art Fair Booth N33 Exhibition Hall Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg Background image: Nnenna Okore, Lifeforce, 2011, Burlap, paper, dye, latex paint and acrylic, varied dimensions
Omenka Gallery 24, Ikoyi Crescent Ikoyi, Lagos
Oct 16–20, 2013
J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Dominque Zinkpè Uche James-Iroha
Contemporary Realities: Shifting Identities 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Booth 10B Somerset House, West Wing Strand, London
Nov 9–29, 2013
EL Loko, Godfried Donkor, Manuela Sambo Kwesi Owusu-Ankomah, Ransome Stanley
Having Travelled Far Omenka Gallery
24, Ikoyi Crescent Ikoyi, Lagos
‘Omenka? is an Onitsha Ibo term? OME - is maker, traditional maker of; the maker of NKA, who carves, who creates, who communicates through the making, or the making, or NKA, being the attribute of his making through creative action... Omenka is usually a genius type...Omenka means greatness, a man of valour...’ Ben Enwonwu, January 1967 PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OLIVER ENWONWU DEPUTY EDITOR OMOLADUN OGIDAN LONDON EDITOR BOMI ODUFUNADE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR LUCIANO UZUEGBU
he Wheatbaker Ikoyi, played host to the much anticipated launch of Omenka, Nigeria’s first art, business, and lifestyle magazine. The well attended event kicked off to a fine start with a presentation by Neil Coventry, CEO, Arra Wines on the Importance of the Documentation of Artworks. It was followed by Ms Mosun Ogunbanjo, CEO, MOE Identity Assets whose presentation was themed Architecture in Conversation with Art. The evening was rounded up by Yvonne Fasinro, CEO, Renaissance Capital titled Nigerian Art as an Alternative Investment. Also in attendance was Chief Arthur Mbanefo, who chaired the occasion.
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT CHINWE GIFTCHUKS
On behalf of Omenka, I would like to thank all those including our readers, sponsors, and media partners who made the evening worthwhile.
ART DIRECTOR YUSUF ARIYO DESIGNERS VICTORY JAMES SEUN ADEMEFUN PHOTOGRAPHERS MICHAEL SOSSOU ANDREW INEGBESE MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS MARY OMUNITA ADVERTISING CLEMENT DIKE CIRCULATION JAMES OJE
Cover TY Bello Wole Soyinka, 2005 To subscribe, please call +234 1 7379753-5, 8033129276, 8184553331 or go online at www.omenkamagazine.com Omenka Magazine is published quarterly by
Revilo Company Ltd 24, Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos T: + 234 1 7379753-5 www.omenkamagazine.com Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden save with express permission in writing of the publishers. All material is compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but published without responsibility for errors or omissions. Revilo accepts advertisements from advertisers believed to be of good repute, but cannot guarantee the authenticity or quality or objects or services advertised in its pages. Omenka does not assume responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations. Copyright worldwide of all editorial content is held by the publishers, Revilo Company Ltd. The name, Omenka is a registered trademark owned by Revilo Company Ltd. and cannot be used without its express written consent.
This second issue which focuses on photography, offers a lot more and is bound to keep readers enthralled. I have had the great fortune of meeting some of the best contemporary African photographers including ‘Okhai Ojeikere, one of the most iconic figures in modern Nigerian art. Omenka is off to a promising start with a ‘tell-all’ profile on him. This is followed by an entertaining feature on the LagosPhoto Festival directed by Azu Nwagbogu while our London editor Bomi Odufunade talks to acclaimed photographer, George Osodi on his forthcoming exhibition, Nigeria Monarchs at Bermondsey Projects, London. Ed Cross also tells us about the Auction Room’s recent foray into the online auction market for modern and contemporary African art. We also profile the top ten highest selling photographs on the Nigerian market as at April 2013. In addition, there are interviews with Ross Douglass, director of the Joburg Art Fair, Kavita Chellaram of Arthouse Contemporary and Touria El Glaoui, director of the newly established 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Among with reviews of the most exciting exhibitions of art from the continent, these are just some of the in-depth articles, interviews and profiles put together solely for your pleasure. Feel free to leave your comments for our contributors and editors on our website. Enjoy!
Oliver Enwonwu OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
SNEAK PEEK, TRENDS
2003 - 2013
News is the first
rough draft of
OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
ANTENNAE - SNEAK PEEK
ANTENNAE - SNEAK PEEK
VIDEO ART POWERED BY SAMSUNG Recently, the multi-disciplinary artist has caught the attention of audiences with several local and international exhibitions. Modisakeng works primarily as a sculptor, but has a keen interest in performance art and photography, too. His experimentation with film secured him as the perfect candidate for the Samsung project. His new video will be exhibited at the fair as an installation, and played alongside a series of images taken during the video shoot, as well as one of his sculptures, which is used as a central prop in the video. A prominent signature quality of Modisakeng’s photographic work is the highly tactile, textured quality of his images which he extended into his video by filming in 4K resolution with cameras that are capable of filming up to 120 frames per second. This allows elements such as incense, smoke and flying dust to be clearly depicted moving in slow motion against a backdrop, a feature that will be beautifully highlighted by the Samsung Ultra HD screen. Since founding the Samsung Foundation of Culture in 1965, Samsung continues to make significant contributions to contemporary arts and visual culture. Partnering with Artlogic, they have turned their focus to the medium of video art. Artlogic has commissioned South African artist Mohau Modisakeng to create a video installation for the new project, Video Art Powered by Samsung. The work Inzilo, will be unveiled at this year’s fair, where it will be screened on the new Samsung Ultra HD 85-inch TV. The incredibly vivid display has up to four times the resolution of full HD, making it the ultimate platform from which to present the young artist’s new work.
notable group exhibitions include My Joburg at La Maison Rouge, Paris (2013); All Our Relations, the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); La Triennale (2012) – Intense Proximity, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); ILLUMInations, the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale (2011); The World Belongs to You, works from the Pinault Collection at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2011); Touched, the
Liverpool Biennial (2010); the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial, China (2008); and Flow at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2008). He was the Tollman Award winner for 2006, the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2009, and the Rolex Visual Arts Protégé for 2010/11, working with Anish Kapoor as his mentor; in 2010 he was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize.
HAVING TRAVELLED FAR OMENKA GALLERY November 9 - 29, 2013
Omenka Gallery, Lagos in collaboration with Artco Gallery, Germany presents Having Travelled Far, an exhibition featuring 5 leading contemporary artists from Africa; EL Loko, Godfried Donkor, Kwesi Owusu-Ankomah, Manuela Sambo, and Ransome Stanley. All the artists live and work in Germany but are drawn together by their strong African roots. Here, Togo-born artist EL Loko (b. 1950) engages issues of identity and continues in his quest to develop a universal language. Ransome Stanley (b. 1953) reflects on colonial clichés of exoticism and images of Africa rooted in Western concepts of rusticness and innocence. Godfried Donkor (b. 1964) interrogates the shared history between Africa and Europe and is known for his collage paintings with figures arising from cross-sections of old sailing ships, a metaphor for the transportation of slaves from West Africa to the New World. Owusu-Ankomah (b. 1956) addresses themes of identity and the body using his trademark adinkra motifs. Manuela Sambo (b.1964) integrates European elements dating back to the medieval ages into her art. She combines her African way to paint facial features and body decorations with European headdresses and ornamental pieces taken from historical paintings.
The Samsung Foundation of Culture has been a beacon for Korean arts and cultural development and is committed to preserving Korean traditional culture and heralding its achievements around the world while fostering international exchanges. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art was opened in central Seoul in 2004. The art complex was designed by three of the world’s most renowned architects, Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel, and Rem Koolhaas. With a collection ranging from Korean ancient national treasures to cuttingedge multimedia pieces, Leeum provides not only exhibition space but a vibrant, dynamic cultural forum. Ransome Stanley, Maske, 2011, oil on canvas, 150 x 200 cm
NICHOLAS HLOBO AT STEVENSON GALLERY November 28, 2013 – January 11, 2014
FNB ART PRIZE
A solo exhibition by Nicholas Hlobo opens at Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town this November. The exhibition is his first in Cape Town since his Standard Bank Young Artist show, Umtshotsho, travelled to the Iziko South African National Gallery in May 2010. It begins as Hlobo returns from the United States, where he opens in The Sketch for an Opera at Locust Projects in Miami on November 8, and presents Zinintsi izinto ezimayela nam endingazaziyo in New York as part of Performa, the performance art biennale directed by RoseLee Goldberg. While elements from Hlobo’s show might be familiar to a local audience, the artist has recently introduced new materials and processes into his studio work. The white fabric cocoon from which he emerges in Zinintsi hints at one such new direction, while a recent commission by the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon used metal as both a structural and formal element. Wood has also been part of Hlobo’s language through found objects, usually colonial furniture,
FNB Joburg Art Fair has emerged with two winners for its 2013 FNB Art Prize, Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke J van Veuren, with their exhibition of a collaborative dance and film project Uncles & Angels, a colourful, cultural celebration promoting respect for young ladies, especially by the male folk and preserving the practice of staying virgins till marriage.
Tyaphaka, 2012, Rubber, ribbon, hosepipe, packaging material, 300 x 400 x 10000cm
but has now entered his vocabulary as a raw material. Combined with his renewed interest in performance, these journeys into new materials reveal an ever-expanding practice, brought together for the first time at Stevenson’s Cape Town gallery. Hlobo, born in Cape Town in 1975, lives and works in Johannesburg. He has held solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2011); In the Level 2 Gallery at Tate Modern, London (2008), and at the Boston ICA as part of the Momentum series (2008), among other institutions. This
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The dance/video was initially created as a stage performance examining and criticizing the contradictory notion that supposedly compels sexual chastity on young girls. The use of technology and live bodies, explores the themes of sexual control and patriarchal tradition, as Van Veuren uses programmed video manipulation and a patented optical projection method to create a montage of live video images. His technology also creates a background of multiple bodies and temporal dissonance against which choreography unfolds as a sometimes playful, unpredictable, mutual interaction. Elements of the Reed Dance and virginity test were deliberately acted-out by Xaba, either as dreams and nightmares of a young girl or as a symbol of maturity. This exhibition raised questions of what the Reed Dance has become,
Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke J van Veuren, Uncles and Angels
and the culturally structured relationships between young and naïve girls, and older and assumingly respected men. FNB Art Prize project took off in 2011 and is dedicated to promoting both galleries and artists globally. Galleries attending the art fair nominate artists to represent them and the one with the best work is picked as a winner by the designated panel of judges. The winner goes home with a cash prize and is given a space to showcase his or her works in, the during the art fair.
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ANTENNAE - SNEAK PEEK
ANTENNAE - SNEAK PEEK
PIETER HUGO, KIN CAPE TOWN, October 17 – November 23, 2013 JOHANNESBURG, October 3 – November 8, 2013
WANGECHI MUTU, A FANTASTIC JOURNEY BROOKLYN MUSEUM, UNITED STATES October 11, 2013 – March 9, 2014
Stevenson Gallery will be presenting a solo exhibition, Kin by Pieter Hugo (b.1976). This new photographic series will show across both of Stevenson’s galleries, premiering in Johannesburg and opening two weeks later in Cape Town.
The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University has organized the first survey in the United States by the internationally renowned, Brooklyn-based artist, Wangechi Mutu. The touring exhibition, A Fantastic Journey, was first held at the Nasher Museum from March 21 through July 21, 2013. The exhibition will travel to the Brooklyn Museum in October 2013, the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, in April 2014, and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in September 2014.
Kin is a bittersweet perspective on Hugo’s homeland of South Africa. It is a meditation on the ideals of home, both familial and humanistic. It explores the tenuous ties that both bind us to and repel us from others.
Bridging from the mid-1990s to the present, the exhibition unites more than 50 works including Mutu’s signature large-scale collages, drawings, sculptures as well as illustrations and video works. The exhibition also features for the first time on public view, the artist’s sketchbooks of intimate drawings from major international collections that reveal her creative process and inspiration. Other new highlights include Mutu’s first-ever animated video, created in collaboration with Santigold and commissioned by the Nasher Museum.Trevor Schoonmaker, Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum, curate the exhibition.
Over the past eight years Hugo has turned his eye on cramped townships, contested farmlands and abandoned mining areas; psychologically charged still life in people’s homes; sites of political significance; drifters and the homeless; his pregnant wife, and his daughter, moments after her birth; and the domestic servants who have worked for the Hugo family over three generations. The series alternates between intimate and public spaces, with particular emphasis on the growing disparity between rich and poor, and reveals Hugo’s deeply conflicted feelings about his home. It confronts complex issues of colonization, racial diversity and economic disparity. Kin endeavours to locate his young family in a country with a fraught history and an uncertain future. Hugo describes the Kin project as: An engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood’ … South Africa is such a fractured, schizophrenic, wounded and problematic place. It is a very violent society and the scars of colonialism and apartheid still run very deep. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of society, and the legacy of forced racial segregation casts a long shadow ... How does one live in this society? How does one take responsibility for history, and to what extent should one try? How do you raise a family in such a conflicted society? Before getting married and having children, these questions did not trouble me; now, they are more confusing. This work attempts to address these questions and to reflect on the nature of conflicting personal and collective narratives. I have deeply mixed feelings about being here. I am interested in the places where these narratives collide. Kin is an attempt at evaluating the gap between society’s ideals and its realities. Hugo was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Cape Town, where he lives. His survey exhibition, This Must Be the Place, has showed at the Fotomuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; Stimultania Photographic Centre, Strasbourg, France (2012); Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary (2013); and continues to tour. Some of his recent group exhibitions include Present Tense, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal (2013); Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive, The Walther Collection, Ulm, Germany (2013);
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu examines globalization by combining found materials, magazine cut - outs, sculpture, and painted imagery, sampling from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry and science fiction. She is best known for her spectacular and provocative collages
Detail: Loyiso Mayga, Wandise Ngcama, Lunga White, Luyanda Mzantsi and Khungsile Mdolo after their initiation ceremony, Mthatha, 2008
Africa: Photographs and Video from the Martin Margulies Collection, Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, Edison State College, Florida, United States (2012); Africa, There and Back, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany (2012); Qui Vive? 3rd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Russia (2012); FotoTriennale.dk, Funen, Denmark (2012); Contact Photography Festival, Toronto, Canada (2011); ARS 11, Kiasma, Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, Finland (2011); Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography, V&A Museum, London, UK (2011); The Eye is a Lonely Hunter: Images of Humankind, Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, Germany (2011); and The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989, ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany (2011). Hugo won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2007; the KLM Paul Huf Award and the Arles Discovery Award at the Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival in 2008; the Seydou Keita Award at the 9th Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial, Mali, in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse photography prize in 2012.
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A Shady Promise, 2006, mixed-media collage on mylar, 218.75 x 271.875cm
depicting female figures—part human, animal, plant, and machine— in fantastical landscapes that are simultaneously intimidating and alluring. Her work explores issues of gender, race, war, colonialism, global consumption, and the eroticization of the black female body. Mutu encourages audiences to consider these mythical worlds as places for cultural, psychological, and socio-political exploration and transformation by making mysterious cyborgian figures pieced together with human, animal, machine and monster parts. A Fantastic Journey is accompanied by a 176-page, colour-illustrated catalogue with critical texts by Mutu, Trevor Schoonmaker, art historian Kristine Stiles and critic and musician Greg Tate.
OJEIKERE AND STEPHENS: NETWORKS AND VOIDS, MODERN INTERPRETATIONS OF NIGERIAN HAIRSTYLES AND HEADDRESSES, OMENKA GALLERY October 5 – 19, 2013 Omenka Gallery will present Networks and Voids, Modern Interpretations of Nigerian Hairstyles and Headdresses, an exhibition of work by celebrated Nigerian photographer, ‘Okhai Ojeikere and one of the fast- rising names on the continent, American artist, Gary Stephens who is based in Johannesburg. The works are presented in varying media of photography, linoleum prints and charcoal on paper, and are united by the central theme of Nigerian hairstyles and headdresses (geles) fashioned from hand-woven asooke and expensive imported textiles including damask and brocade. The show draws its title from the patterns formed by the network of interlocking branches of finely plaited hair and voids left in their wake. These patterns are repeated in the weaves of the headdresses, where they give the impression of low relief embroidery and mimic matching lace outfits populated by open spaces. This notion of interconnectedness is further accentuated by the fact that though the artists are separated along racial lines, location and age, but are brought together through the investigation of these art forms.
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Gary Stephens, Yaba Tech Art Student, 2013, charcoal on paper, 200 x 150cm
Everyone has a
photographic memory. Some donâ€™t have film. Stephen Wright
24, Ikoyi (Modupe Alakija) Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos T. +234 81 7164 6710, 809 871 7710
OMENKA MAGAZINE VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
FOCUS - INTERVIEW
FOCUS - INTERVIEW
BUILDING AN AFRICAN FRANCHISE Ross Douglas started his career guiding and managing camps in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Fast-forward a couple of years and he is today the founder and one of the directors of Artlogic, a company that specializes in high-end boutique fairs including the FNB-sponsored Joburg Art Fair. With a turnover in excess of 1.7 million Euros, over 20, 000 visitors expected yearly, and 35 major galleries from 6 countries across Africa and Europe, the fair is easily the largest art event on the continent and represents the single largest collection of African and South African contemporary art for sale. In this chat with Omenka, Douglas reveals the keys to his success and the challenges heâ€™s faced on this incredible journey. OM: Who is Ross Douglas and how did you get involved with art? Ross Douglas is the founder and one of the directors of Artlogic a company that starts, owns and runs fairs including the FNB Joburg Art Fair. I became involved in art by initiating a project with William Kentridge, which involved his animated films and live music. It was performed around the world including Central Park, New York. OM: Can you tell us about this period?
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It was a time when there was not much interest in contemporary art in South Africa. Companies sponsored sport and the art scene was very small and local. By partnering with Kentridge who was already internationally acclaimed, I was able to travel and work abroad and understand the potential of art events thereby giving me the confidence to start the art fair. OM: What is your role as director of ArtLogic? I am responsible for growing our existing fairs and looking for new projects and opportunities particularly in Africa.
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FOCUS - INTERVIEW
FOCUS - INTERVIEW
I am not interested in the number of galleries and number of visitors as quality is what makes a fair sustainable. OM: Your career started out with making documentaries for TV before switching to commercials and now you are director of one of the biggest contemporary art fairs in Africa. Can you please tell us about these different phases and what led to the changes in your career? I suppose I have always been quite restless and like to be on the cutting edge. When documentaries became stale, I began looking for a new home but did not quite fit in the commercial world. I soon realized that companies have great budgets to promote their brands so when I started doing art events. I knew the world of corporate marketing speak, which helped a lot. The other skill I learnt from making documentaries was being creative and innovative to get a job done. When we started the art fair, we had no experience of producing a fair, so had to continually innovate, which was exciting. OM: Tell us about your role as fair director. As the fair director, I work with a team of which the curator is the most important. The fair director has to make sure that the sponsor, galleries and public are happy. The only way to do this is to improve the fair each year and we are fortunate in that contemporary art from Africa is on a roll and the art fair benefits for that. OM: What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get Joburg Art Fair off the ground and what strategies have you adopted in sustaining it over the years? The biggest obstacle in year one was doubt. Very few people believed that South Africa could produce a decent art fair and that interesting art could come out of Africa. Mark Read of Everard Read initiated the idea of the fair and I picked up on this momentum. OM: You are also the director of the Food Wine Design Fair and the Winter Sculpture Fair. How do you cope with your busy schedule and raising sponsorship for the three fairs? I have an excellent business partner, small team and use lots of technology and outsourcing to third parties for things like building and logistics. Artlogic has built a strong reputation in the South African industry as the company capable of producing quality events that are not sports. We have also built up a very strong and loyal database of people who love our events, so that we do not need to market as much as we did in the early days. OM: What makes the Joburg Art Fair different from other art fairs and how does it establish its identity in relation to other African art fairs? We have always been focused on contemporary art from Africa and will continue with that focus. I think we have a size and scale that
other African art fairs don’t have and I imagine that we will now see many small art fairs springing up in Africa, which is good for all of us in the art world. OM: What were the highlights over the years including projects, and in your opinion were they successful? A major success for Artlogic was producing Kentridge’s version of the Magic Flute which sold 11, 000 tickets, something unheard for opera in South Africa. However, the greatest success was the first year of the art fair and for this we are very grateful to First National Bank who backed us despite us having no track record. OM: What is your focus this year and how do you measure the fair’s overall success? I measure the success of the fair on a number of things like, how long visitors spend at the event, how many new buyers who we don’t know attend, how well galleries sell and most importantly what the quality of the art work is like. Unlike many other fairs, I am not interested in the number of galleries and number of visitors as
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quality is what makes a fair sustainable. OM: The fair is entering its 6th year. How would you describe its growth, not just in terms of the number of galleries participating, but also its reputation outside the country? Our timing has been good in that the world has “discovered” art from Africa and our fair is a good place to find it. I can now go to most places in the world and people would have heard of the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which really helps in attracting the right collectors. OM: How has the fair changed over the years? And what kind of new and exciting things might one expect to see in future? Instead of growing by getting more galleries that don’t make the grade, we keep increasing the quality of special projects that allow solo shows of top artists from the continent. OM: How would you describe the South African art collector? South Africa has a small but strong group of collectors. By this, I mean individuals with big budgets who are collecting beyond what
they can fit in their houses. After this, we have a fairly big group of people who collect for the enjoyment of living with art in their homes and buy a piece or two every year at the fair. OM: What is the response of the South African government to art and how can other African countries engage art as a tool in creating lasting social and economic value? The South African government has taken a big interest in art recently as seen by their presence with the SA pavilion at Venice. At the Venice Biennale this year, Africa was the talk of the town thanks to Angola winning best national pavilion. Also the number of African pavilions has increased and includes South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola. Europeans have been using art for centuries as a brand builder and more recently as a way to inform the other creative industries like fashion and film. Africa, possibly thanks to its diversity, young population and challenging circumstances produces great art. Governments can take advantage of this but it has to be in a supportive role and not a commissioning role – they need to leave that up to curators and experts.
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FOCUS - INTERVIEW
FOCUS - INTERVIEW
LONDON: AFRICAN ART TAKES CENTRE STAGE Touria, daughter of renowned artist Hassan El Glaoui may have chosen to start her life as an investment banker, but today she has made a name for herself on the art scene, assisting her father and curating several exhibitions including his first retrospective, Meetings in Marrakech. In this exclusive interview, she shares her expectations for contemporary art from Africa, and why she aims at providing an international platform for African artists through her upcoming fair, 1:54.
OM: As the daughter of the famous artist Hassan El Glaoui, one may have expected you to start your career as an artist or curator but you chose a profession in investment banking. Any particular reason for this? As much as my father knew from an early age that he wanted to pursue painting and become an artist, I cannot say the same for myself no raw talent that pushed me in that direction. In addition, my father was not keen for any of his children to pursue this path as a professional career, knowing how difficult and full of financial insecurities it can be. OM: Growing up, did you ever consider being an artist? No. But I have always been involved with the art world through my dad. OM: Does being an El Glaoui pose any challenges to live up to the name? I do believe it is difficult for anyone to live in his or her parentsâ€™
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shadow, and better to find your own path. As an El Glaoui, I will always try to live up to the name, a name that I am happy and proud to carry. OM: You have had a successful career as an investment banker, which in many ways can be viewed as more lucrative and financially stable. Why the shift to art? I started my career in the financial industry, and switched quite early on to the telecoms and IT industry, where I covered emerging markets (MEA). The switch has taken place progressively, covering first the continent from a business development perspective, then my involvement in art with my father, which has led to this new chapter of my life, and the founding of 1:54. OM: Can you tell us about some projects you have worked on including Meetings in Marrakech: The Paintings of Hassan El Glaoui and Winston Churchill? In parallel to my career, I have supported my dad with referencing
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FOCUS - INTERVIEW his work and organizing few exhibitions. His first retrospective. Meetings in Marrakech is the last exhibition that I co-curated with the Museum of Leighton in London. It was by far the most exciting project, because it focused on my father as a young artist. I had the chance to research on the early years of his life. The outcome was a successful exhibition that is now going back to Marrakech in October 2013 and Canada in 2014. OM: Can you mention some other artists you have collaborated with? Working full-time, preparing the launch of a new fair, and supporting my father’s work is all I was able to do for last 18 months. OM: How do you rate contemporary African art? 1:54 is here to provide an international platform and visibility for artists from the continent and the diaspora. I was impressed by the quality of the applications from the galleries we received. OM: What do you think is responsible for the growing global interest in modern and contemporary African art? A number of artistic and commercial ventures have been established recently to develop contemporary African art. Whether it is the Tate, launching a two-year African art programme and establishing an Acquisition Committee, or the African Art Museum, New York building a new wing for contemporary African art, the emergence of foundations and contemporary art centres such as the RAW Material Company in Dakar, as well as the ever-growing presence of African artists in international exhibitions (such as Documenta13, Triennale de Paris) or dedicated exhibitions such as Africa Remix in 2005 or more recently We Face Forward in Manchester, The Progress of Love supported The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts at the The Menil Collection in Houston, there has been a tremendous emergence of interest and focus around the importance of contemporary African art both locally and internationally. This has resulted in the emergence of new and young galleries dedicated to contemporary African art not only in Africa but also globally in centres such as London and New York. In addition, Africa has been on an accelerating growth path over the last 10 years, and the establishment of international artistic centres show-casing African art, have brought it to the attention of new
FOCUS - INTERVIEW global collectors. A recent example of the international appeal is Art Dubai’s recent invitation to galleries and art centres located in West Africa to form a special part of the fair. OM: At what point did you decide to start an African art fair and how did you come up with the name 1:54? In October 2011, I started by validating the idea with friends and contacts in the art world. We all agreed that it was the right time for it. I took it upon myself to develop the project with great support from Koyo Kouoh our artistic advisor and other board advisors on the project. For 1:54, I deemed it mandatory to have a name that reflects first, the diversity of Africa but underlines a common heritage. The use of numbers seemed also to be right common language. The name of the fair underlines the diversity of the continent and its art. It is not just about the fact that we are talking about one continent and 54 countries. OM: What have been the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get 1:54 off the ground? Finding sponsors from the continent to support the project. OM: Most international art fairs do not survive beyond the 2-year mark. How do you plan on sustaining the fair? The objective is that 1:54 becomes one of the most important destinations on the European culture calendar. There are other successful examples of art fairs dedicated to a particular continent. They are usually dedicated to continents whose contemporary art scenes have emerged relatively recently on the international market, and have passed the 2-year mark. Collectors are by nature, curious and always looking for new artistic experiences. There is also reason to believe that given the right platform, African art will draw the focus and attention that has recently been drawn to other emerging art scenes such as Latin America and Asia, for a much longer period. Many of the galleries who are participating in this first edition, have already shown interest in being part of future editions. In addition, there are several projects we are developing to make sure the second and
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third editions are as exiting as the first. OM: Why is your focus strictly on Africa and what have been the difficulties in hosting an African art fair in London? The difficulty is not in hosting an African art fair, but a new fair in London in general. OM: What are the factors that influenced your decision to use Somerset House as a location for the fair? I wanted an iconic location for 1:54. In addition, a strategic decision was made to host the fair during Frieze. So it was mandatory that the location was a central part of the circuit during this busy week for the collectors, institutions, and the public. OM: Who are some of the galleries participating? Are they mostly based in Africa? We have 15 galleries coming from the continent, Europe and the United States. OM: Are there any plans to invite more galleries and include other venues? This year we had more applications than spaces. Somerset House is happy to host 1:54 for a second edition, and give us more space next year; the quality of works presented by the galleries participating will always be the criteria of selection. OM: Is there any synergy between 1:54 and other art fairs that focus on African art like the Dakar Biennale, Joburg Art Fair, and Bamako Encounters? I had a chance to discuss the fair with different parties and participants at these events, and leverage on their knowledge and understand better the audience. OM: In what way will 1:54 stand apart from these fairs and other international ones? 1:54 is a platform for artists, curators, museums, and art centres involved with Africa or Africa-related projects. This means that we will have African artists who are living and working on the continent. It also means that we would not mind including works by artists such as Miguel Barcelo who has worked for many years in Mali or Olafur Eliasson who has just completed a project in Dakar for the RAW Materials company. OM: Africa has a pool of emerging talents that may not have the opportunity to participate in international fairs as galleries
Edmond J Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House, United Kingdom
prefer to exhibit more established artists to promote sales and make up for transportation costs. How do you plan on ensuring exposure for such artists? The fair is representing the galleries and is set to grow as the contemporary African art scene continues to develop. We have encouraged all the galleries to apply to the fair. Our committee is selecting galleries based on the quality of the proposed works and their programmes. Where the galleries/art centres had limited means, some reached out for grants to make up for transportation costs. The important role of the galleries/ art centres is to discover talents and support them to grow locally. OM: Many critics again argue that these African artists living and working on the continent, in contrast to those in diaspora, maybe more alive to her daily struggles and influences, and best represent African art. What is your opinion on this? Good artists are good artists! The work might be influenced, inspired or nourished by different variables and exposure, but I would not say that one represents better African art. I have seen artists from the diaspora holding and attached so strongly to their roots that it exudes even more so in their work. OM: What is the role of the fair in promoting African art? The fair will promote African visual culture. It will be a platform for artists, galleries, curators, organizations and museums immersed in African and Africa-related practices. The fair will be an amazing and unique opportunity to draw further attention to established and emerging talents from the African continent. It will raise awareness and contribute to further develop the contemporary African art scene both in Africa and internationally.
Good artists are good artists! The work might be influenced, inspired or nourished by different variables and exposure, but I would not say that one represents better African art. OM: In an increasingly globalized world where artists are embracing new media, how do you think African art will maintain its distinctive flavour? The development of the art scenes locally is important to grow and give the right visibility to the talent on the continent and keep as you say “A distinctive flavour.” OM: What are your expectations for the fair and how will you measure its success? In an immediate sense, by the commercial success of the participating galleries, the response and interest of the collectors and the general public. Further down the line, the increased awareness in local African art scenes will also serve as a gauge of the fair’s success.
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FOCUS - PROFILE
FOCUS - PROFILE
UP CLOSE WITH ‘OKHAI OJEIKERE WORDS LADUN OGIDAN
Any monkey can use a digital camera, you press a button, you play. You don’t need proper skill to practice with a digital camera because you are not printing. You only take pictures so you are not as controlled.
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FOCUS - PROFILE
Photographer, ‘Okhai Ojeikere was born in 1930 in Ovbiomu-Emai, Edo State and is one of the most iconic figures in modern Nigerian art. Growing up in the village, Ojeikere attended school up to the primary 6 level before quitting, deciding instead to pursue his dream of being a “professional man”. He was then 19 years old and took on a tailoring apprenticeship with his uncle at Ibadan. However, this was short-lived as the death of his father forced him to move to Abakaliki to live with his older sister who was married to a policeman. His early interest in photography was encouraged by a neighbour, Mr Albert Anieke, a retired photographer who advised him to acquire a personal camera and taught him basic operating skills and the rudiments of photography. Ojeikere thus began his journey into the world of photography at the age of twenty with a modest Brownie camera. Soon enough, he was sourcing commissioned assignments in public places including government establishments. In 1954, he was appointed darkroom assistant at the Ministry of Information. Regarded as a novice, Ojeikere was not allowed to take photographs but instead was given several menial tasks among which were washing and glazing printed photographs for his superiors. Ojeikere being the ambitious person he is, grew tired of the monotony and decided to improve on his skills by purchasing his second camera, a Rolleicord 2.25 x 2.25cm. Soon afterwards, he approached one of his superiors requesting to assist him in developing films from the assignments he covered. Believing he would fail, he instructed Ojeikere to first present images he developed himself from random photographs of the surroundings of the Ministry of Information before he could be allowed to assist him. Ojeikere’s photographs turned out extremely well and from then on, he was more respected and given real assignments. One of the random shots, Guguru Seller, 1954 is the oldest picture in his collection.
FOCUS - PROFILE
Ojeikere is more driven than most photographers today. He was once asked to cover the opening and closing ceremony of the Igogo Festival at Owo which is usually performed by the oba every year. On arrival, the oba rejected the idea, insisting that the whole ceremony be documented. Consequently, Ojeikere had to stay back for two weeks, so unprepared that he wore the same outfit for the entire celebration. During this period, Ojeikere made it a point of duty to go to the University of Ibadan every week to take photographs of the students. And today, he has over 2,000 photographs of the university students in his archives. In 1961, he applied for the position of a still photographer for the Television House Ibadan, a division of the Western Nigerian Broadcasting Services and the first television station in Africa. Ojeikere attended the interview with a big folder containing 24x16inch photographs from his collection. There were over 40 candidates present from Lagos who laughed at him for not having a certificate or testimonial and for being the only representative from Ibadan. Fortunately for him, his interview turned out to be a mini exhibition as his interviewer Mr Richard Taylor was enthralled by the examples he presented and hired him on the spot. In 1962, West Africa Publicity, now Lowe Lintas wanted to introduce the beverage Bitter Lemon to Nigeria and requested that Steve Rhodes, the programme director of the Television House recommend the best photographer for the job, which involved taking photographs of Miss Nigeria 1961 and1962. Once again, Ojeikere’s skills were questioned but this time along racial lines. To ensure they could at least receive a presentable shot, the representatives of West Africa Publicity instructed him to take the same picture six times. Eventually, when the film was processed, every shot turned out the same way. They soon realized their mistake and immediately offered him a permanent job, which Ojeikere turned down.
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Since 1967, Ojeikere has been a member of the Nigerian Arts Council, which organizes festivals of visual and living arts. From 1968, he began to develop series of photographs of thousands of images notably in black-and-white, exploring Nigerian culture. This has since become a significant anthropological, ethnographic and documentary national treasure. In 1975, he retired as head of commercial photography to establish his own studio Foto Ojeikere, where he serves as chief photography consultant. Despite major advancements in technology, Ojeikere still has a love for black and white photography and persists in using an analog camera to capture his body of work, shot largely in black and white. “Any monkey can use a digital camera, you press a button, you play. You don’t need proper skill to practice digital camera because you are not printing. You only take pictures so you are not as controlled.” Hairstyles is Ojeikere’s best-known and most important body of work through which he draws attention to the elaborate and sculptural forms of Nigerian hairstyles while documenting their evolving style that changes with fashion. ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s work has been widely exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious museums and galleries including the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, Tate Modern, London, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. His work also forms part of several important collections like The Walther Collection, The Jean Pigozzi Collection, and the Cartier Foundation, Paris. He has been honoured with the Chobi Mela Life Time Achievement Award in Photography, Bangladesh, 2011 and the Nigerian Photography Award, Life Time Achievement Award, 2011, for his work and outstanding contributions to the development of photography in Nigeria.
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AUCTIONS, INVESTMENT, GALLERY, ARTIST DOSSIER
time to wait for somebody to paint their portraits anymore. The money is in photography. People don’t have
MONDAY, 18TH NOVEMBER 2013, 6PM
VIEWINGS: SATURDAY 16TH NOVEMBER 2013, 10 - 6PM SUNDAY 17TH NOVEMBER 2013, 12 - 6PM THE WHEATBAKER 4 ONITOLO ROAD IKOYI
Ben (Benedict Chukwukadibia) Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917 - 94) The Drummer, circa 1978 Polyester resin, 66cm N10,000,000 - 12,000,000 ($ 61,425 - 73,710)
Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org +234(1)770909 +234 805 2500 195 www.arthouse-ng.com
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
ED CROSS ON BEING A SCULPTOR, AFRICAN ART AND DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ONLINE MARKET Ed Cross
Rapid advancements in technology and the internet in recent years, has transformed the online art industry. There now exist over 300 online art market players across the world specializing in areas such as data, information research, galleries and auctions. Market reports from IBIS World, estimate online auction sales totaling US $ 287.5 million in 2011 from the United States market alone. The Auction Room adds to the growing list of online auction houses. Sculptor and Cambridge-trained art historian, Ed Cross takes us through some of his experiences in different roles as a sculptor, painter, art dealer and now curator of the auction house’s inaugural sales of modern and contemporary art from Africa on October 18.
OM: How did you become passionate about African art? I have always been an artist in one way or another and I was lucky enough to study History of Art at Cambridge University, though the nearest I got to African art then was through the prism of Cubism. The only connection my family had with Africa was through my grandmother’s first cousin, the bohemian writer, publisher and African art and literature patron, Nancy Cunard who scandalized English society by having a love affair with a black jazz musician and who is said to have introduced Picasso to African art. Part of the reason I went to live in Africa in 1988 was to practice as a painter, leaving my day job in educational publishing at Heinemann in London. In the end, I did have several exhibitions in Mombasa when I first arrived there, but gravitated back into books, setting up my own company
to represent international publishers like Cambridge University Press, in East Africa. I found and still find Africa visually inspiring in many ways. Initially, I was more interested in the “inadvertent art” there - the place is so rich in visual imagery provided by people just going about their lives, always with improvisation. There is a lot of “art” produced for the tourist trade in East Africa and that didn’t interest me at all - it wasn’t until I saw the work of Jack Katarikawe the Ugandan artist who has lived most of his life in Nairobi, and whose work I fell in love with, that I began to see that there was, of course, much more to the art scene in East Africa than mass produced Maasai warriors. I have not looked back since then. OM: You worked as a sculptor before going on to collecting and dealing? Around 2000, I discovered a love of
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sculpture and started producing portrait busts and heads in clay and bronze and at the same time started to develop a body of work using ruined dug-out canoes or fragments of boats as my materials. In the end, I got out of my publishing interests all together to concentrate on my sculpture. In time, this led me in to the world of curating and art dealing. I realized that there was a wealth of talent not being exposed internationally and I felt that the ideas and the spirit behind some of the visual art I was seeing in Africa embodied the values and qualities that make Africa unique as a continent. I also saw an amazing business investment for those who had the foresight. I wanted to be part of what I see as a cultural rebirth, post the ravages of colonialism and tyranny. I was lucky enough to find friends and colleagues who had similar interests and with their support embarked on a journey in
Mamady Seydi , Les Cyclistes, 2012, mixed media sculpture, 102 x 48 x26cm each Estimate: N1,782,510 - 2,546,450 (£7,000 - 10,000)
to the world of contemporary African art – taking me across the continent chiefly to the south and the west. One of my first port’s of call was the Dak’Art Biennale, which I first went to in 2008 and have visited/participated in ever since. OM: In what way are artists affected by their environment? For example, the lack of galleries, materials, buyers and formal art schools in certain regions? This varies a lot between countries – South Africa has an advanced art school infrastructure, Kenya does not yet have a single art school. Nigeria has the infrastructure but as with many African countries, the teaching may be in a time warp. New institutions outside the old structures have come forward to fill the vacuum like CCA in Lagos, which is phenomenally proactive, like RAW Material
Company in Dakar and Kuona Trust in Nairobi. There are new galleries and foundations emerging all over Africa, but a lot of work needs to be done. Oliver Enwonwu, the gallerist from Lagos tells me that they are launching a gallery association there to try to promote a code of conduct in the sector. Meanwhile – yes, it’s hard for artists. Hardship can in some cases lead to great art but for the most part, artists need more support to flourish and excel – one does wonder what would have happened to Wangechi Mutu and her work if she had remained in Nairobi. This is the challenge for everybody who cares about this field. But, believe me, a lot is changing and the results are going to be spectacular - I can assure you of that. OM: What do you think of the pigeonholing of the term “African Art”? Is this
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something we should try to avoid, move away from in the future? This is one of those paradoxes that comes up continually because it is very relevant. On the one hand, artists from the continent have been overlooked and now need exposure – the world needs to learn about them; on the other hand, it can be seen as a limiting category and most artists want to be seen as an artist first, who happens to come from Africa. I think one just has to be open to the art – there have been heavy debates about “primitivism” and the “exotic”, the policy of collectors like Jean Pigozzi to exclude artists that have been “educated” in Western or global art history and practices. I don’t approve of that any more than I would approve of highly educated artists and curators turning their noses up at an artist because he has never been near an art school. Meanwhile, we are beginning to
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS funded modern art museums, which it can and I hope will - those institutions and the views of the people who run them will have a powerful effect both locally and internationally. Nigerian patronage at the Tate Modern has already helped to start a revolution in that institution. Having said all this, there is no substitute for quality artists who “sell out” and churn out works for the market without developing their practice are most unlikely to stand the test of time. OM: How important is Nigeria in relation to the future of African contemporary art? Nigeria is crucial. A leading Johannesburg gallerist told me recently that he suspected that in the end, it would be Lagos not Joburg which would be seen as the driving force in the African art world. This is because there are sufficient people in Nigeria with disposable income to collect and patronize the visual arts. There is a long history of collecting and most important of all, Nigerians “get” the logic (financial and otherwise) of investing in one’s own culture. I believe that what’s happening in Lagos in terms of the collecting culture, will spread to other African cities and that Nigerian collectors will also look for opportunities in other African countries whose countrymen may not be awake to the value of their own artists! OM: Who is behind the Auction Room and why are you excited by what they are doing? I have known the company’s founder George Bailey for quite a number of years and it’s a delight to be working with him. He was until recently, and for many years, managing director of Sotheby’s, so there is not much he doesn’t know about the business of auctioneering. George tells a story about entering the sale room at Sotheby’s, to find only one person in the room other than the auctioneer – all the business being conducted successfully by telephone and internet. The sight of those empty chairs set him thinking, and www.theauctionroom.com is the result. As a small but influential company, we can move very quickly and with agility to take up opportunities – our inaugural African Art Auction will have taken less than six months to put together from start to finish.
Richard Mudariki, Coup d’Etat, acrylic on canvas, 95x65cm Estimate: N407,450 - 662,100 (£1,600 - 2,600)
see West Africa emerge as a separate category – we will see more country categories emerging. In reality it’s a “twin track “situation, I would say. OM: Do you think there is in place a local market and an international market and do they cross over? This is something that really interests me. I do think there is a dichotomy between what sells locally, what people on the continent identify with emotionally, and an international market where ultimately museums and powerful galleries become the arbiters of taste. And of course it is never clear in which category an artist is going to end up. Artists may seem to be parochial in the way that say Jane Austen was parochial as a writer, but with hindsight may be viewed as speaking to profound universal truths. Young, savvy and educated artists are plugging themselves in to the international scene and engaging in global conversations about local and international issues – other artists may appear to be out of the mix now but their work will be re-evaluated later. It’s also about the power of patronage and institutions. If for example, Nigeria develops formidable, well
OM: Why the recent boom in the market? Why are you launching your auction now? Why online? I think it all boils down to economics. In particular, the emergence of Nigeria as a mini-super power in the region with a reformed and highly successful banking system has opened the doors to museum sponsorship and acquisition. You could say that economics has been the petrol in this particular engine – but the engine itself comprises the artists and the growing band of galleries, curators, academics, and last but by no means least, collectors who are making this happen. I am delighted and honoured to be presenting this auction. I think the timing is excellent as well as a surge in collectors buying art online - it coincides with a huge global upswing in interest in Africa and its art and specifically the launch of the first African art fair in London. We have the opportunity now to establish ourselves as a reliable and reputable platform for the international selling of modern and contemporary African art. The fact that it combines a conventional exhibition with the convenience of being online is particularly apt as it will allow us to reach the growing market of collectors all over the world. It’s also apt because so much of the exciting new commercial development in Africa is IT-based.
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ARTHOUSE CONTEMPORARY AUCTION PREVIEW WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
Two unique Ben Enwonwu sculptures lead the Arthouse Contemporary sale of modern and contemporary African art this November in Lagos, which focuses on quality lots with exceptional works by Aina Onabolu, Abayomi Barber, Nnenna Okore, Ludovic Fadairo, Sokari Douglas Camp, and George Osodi. A small resin version of the famous masterpiece, The Drummer by celebrated African modernist Ben Enwonwu MBE is one of two highlights of Arthouse Contemporary’s November auction holding on November 18, 2013 in Lagos. The larger model of this work completed in 1978, in bronze sits on the façade of the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) headquarters in Lagos. Its success is hinged largely on Enwonwu’s mastery in fusing naturalistic elements with the geometric forms and shapes of classical African sculpture. The graceful figure beats on a large drum, one of the oldest recorded means of communication in Africa, used in traditional society to gather dwellers and flag off events. The other work also in resin, is an elegant bust, Fulani Girl, executed in 1957 of a beautiful northern- Nigerian woman and is considered one of Enwonwu’s most accomplished works. Here, he skillfully imbues his sitter with a regal and dignified presence. The finely chiseled features and slender neck are vaguely reminiscent of another of the artist’s best-known works, Tutu (1973). Both works idealize the values inherent in blackness as the artist employed them in advocacy of Negritude, a literary and political movement developed in the 1960 by a group that included the future Senegalese President, Leopold Sedar Senghor, in rejection of colonial intellectual and political hegemony and domination. The offer of Enwonwu’s works is coming on
the heels of his success in the May 22 sale at Bonhams, where his 7 figures commissioned by the Daily Mirror fetched £361, 250 (inclusive of buyer’s premium). The result smashed the artist’s previous world auction record and points to the growing success and popularity of modern African art on the international market. Other regular names in this year’s November sale include celebrated artist, El Anatsui, Abayomi Barber, Nnenna Okore, Sokari Douglas Camp, Okpu Eze, Demas Nwoko, and George Osodi. Making a debut in the auction sales are Ghanaian painter Kofi Setordji and Ludovic Fadairo from the Republic of Benin. Both are major figures in the narratives of contemporary painting in Africa. Interestingly, the lots represent a broad spectrum of artists and reflect Arthouse’s increasing thrust towards including work by artists across the continent. Fadairo’s Dialogue, 2012 executed in natural pigments and acrylic on carton, depicts a couple sharing intimacy. His oeuvre encompasses painting, installation, collage, sculpture and work in mixed media. He seeks to understand the media he employs, which range from the traditional to the highly unorthodox including chalks, natural pigments and locally woven fabric. He often incorporates found materials, which are in themselves a work of time and history, and have their place in daily life. Largely regarded as the earliest pioneer
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Ben Enwonwu, Fulani Girl, 1957, resin, 52.5cm Estimate: N12,000,000 - 15,000,000 ($73,500 - 91,900)
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
Aina Onabolu, Portrait of Sisi Nurse, 1922, 64 x 41cm, oil on canvas Estimate: N10,000,000 - 12,000,000 ($61,200 - 73,500)
Nigerian artist, Aina Onabolu is represented by Portrait of Sisi Nurse, 1922, 64 x 41cm, oil on canvas, estimated between N10,000,000 - 12,000,000 ($61,200 - 73,500). This is an accomplished painting that reflects the finest traditions of Western portraiture. Working in Lagos, Onabolu painted some of the most influential politicians of the time, several of the surviving portraits commissioned by friends of his guardian, Dr J.K. Randle. Abayomi Barber is an influential painter and sculptor and is famous for his surrealist landscapes. His merging of the pre-colonial African Ife and European artistic traditions led to the emergence of the Abayomi Barber School, a significant movement in the historical narratives of modern art in Nigeria. His painting Farmer’s Dream, 1998, oil on canvas, 114.3 X 81.5cm, estimated between N2,000,000 - 2,500,000 ($12,250 - 15,310), presented in the auction is a fine example of his broad oeuvre. Ben Enwonwu, The Drummer, 1978, polyester resin, 66cm Estimate: N10,000,000 - 12,000,000 ($61,200 - 73,500 )
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Textures, forms and colours of organic materials such as clay and wax, or discarded materials like newspaper, paper bags, recycled
cardboard boxes and rope, inspire Nnenna Okore’s installations, which engage the cultures of consumption and recycling in Nigeria. Discovering reusable value in these found objects, she enriches her work with several layers of meaning through the repetitive, laborious and unconventional processes of weaving, sewing, rolling, twisting and dyeing. Okore is represented by a single work in the auction Molten II, 2013, cloth, resin, plaster and acrylic,117 x175.5 x 7.5cm and estimated between N1,700,000 - 1,900,000 ($104,100 117,000). The sale, held at the Wheatbaker in Ikoyi, is one of two auctions annually and offers an opportunity for both seasoned and beginning collectors to pick up unique pieces by well-known Nigerian and African artists. With an emphasis on quality rather than quantity, Arthouse Contemporary’s November sale of modern and contemporary African art will include less lots than a typical one, but at least 7 of which, should sell for well into the seven-figure range. The sale is expected to exceed N124, 398,500 ($ 777, 490) achieved at last May’s sales.
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
BONHAMS SOUTH AFRICAN SALE PREVIEW Bonhams established in 1793, continues to take the lead in the sale of modern and contemporary art from the continent. Its recently concluded May 22 auctions themed Africa Now achieved £1,294,562 in total sales. This figure includes £361,250 (buyer’s premium inclusive) for Ben Enwonwu’s 7 wooden figures commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1960, a new record for the artist and the top price for the evening.
Bonhams Africa Now sale was a resounding success and, with over twenty new world records being set, was the highestvalue auction of African modern and contemporary art ever held. This recent success sets the tone for Bonhams forthcoming sale of South African art on October 2, 2013. The South African sale is expected to fetch between £4,040,700 and £6,030,000. Among the lots included are, Irma Stern’s The Malay Bride, 1942, expected to achieve the highest sale. The painting is enclosed in an original Zanzibar frame, rich in ornamentation and reflecting a fusion of African and Indian cultures. Stern also has 14 works featured in the sale of which no fewer than 6 are expected amongst the top 5 sales. Irma Stern is unarguably a pivotal figure in narratives of modern art in Africa. The Malay Bride is a fine example of her output from
the 1940s and is considered one of her most accomplished paintings. Typical of her work created during this period, the subjects are imbued with a refined serenity and appear isolated. Stern’s fascination with Islam and the splendor of Muslim women in their finery and adornment developed from her exposure to the Cape Malay culture. This enchantment grew with her two trips to Zanzibar in 1945. In this work, Stern utilizes tonal contrasts of blues and turquoise and saturates the image with a serenity and softness while drawing attention to the golden hues in the bride’s medora or headdress. The thin paint and sketchy brushwork is unusual of her characteristic lavish paint, while the glowing golden tones enable a sense of harmony to permeate the scene and renders the sitter in a poised and contemplative mood.
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The bride is portrayed as perfectly regal with no suggestions of a slave ancestry of the Dutch East Indies. While the detail in her bodice is not overly elaborate, adhering to religious dictates, it reveals only her face. Like many of Stern’s sitters, the beautiful and dignified bride bears no name, but provides an elevated and embracing close-up image of a culture deemed inferior by the white minority. Other works featured in the auction are; Alexis Preller’s Native Study (mapogges), (£100,000 - 150,000), Jacob Hendrik Pierneef’s Hartebeestpoort Dam, (£70,000 – 100,000), Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff’s Journey’s End, (£70,000 – 100,000), Gerard Sekoto’s Waiting, (£60,000 – 100,000), and Stanley F. Pinker’s Self in Hot Spot, (£70,000 – 100,000). www.bonhams.com
Irma Stern, The Malay Bride, 1942, oil on canvas, 69 x 51cm. Estimate: N255,000,000 - N382, 250, 000(£1,000,000-1,500,000)
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
Bonhams South African Sale, October 2, 2013 Lots
Title and Date
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
The Malay Bride within original Zanzibar frame 1942
£1,000,000 - 1,500,000
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Still Life with Amaryllis 1940
£300,000 - 500,000
REVIEW: LAGOS AUCTIONS, 1ST HALF 2013 WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Still Life with Roses and Apples 1944
£200,000 - 300,000
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Portrait of a Young Mpondo 1935
£150,000 - 200,000
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Malay Girl with Fruit in carved wood Zanzibarstyle frame 1949
£150,000 - 200,000
Alexis Preller (South African, 1911-1975)
Native Study (Mapogges)
£100,000 - 150,000 El Anatsui, Lanh, 2003-2013, wooden panels, 120 x 312.3cm Sold for N13,200,000 ($82,500) at Arthouse Contemporary, May 13, 2013
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Mother and Child 1949
£100,000 - 150,000
Terra Kulture held its only auction of the year on April 19, 2013. It achieved the sum of N47, 400,000 ($296,250) in total sales, up 24.38% from last year’s April sales, against a presale estimate of N77, 660,000 – N111, 810,000 ($485,375 - $698,812.50). The sale was 66.32% sold by lot with an average price of N752, 380.95 ($4,702.38) though one work was withdrawn. However, none of the works reached the N5, 000,000 ($31,250) mark.
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Arthouse began the first half of the year on May 13, 2013 in Lagos, with a sale that achieved N124, 982,000 ($781,137.50) including a 10% buyer’s premium, against a pre-sale estimate of N138, 590,000 – N174, 850,000 ($866,187.50 - $1,092,812.50). The sale was 81% sold by lot, with an average price of N1, 275,327 ($7,970.79.)
The top sold work on the evening was Kolade Oshinowo’s Royal Protection (2011), which achieved N3, 900,000 ($24,375), followed by El Anatsui’s wooden panels, Towel II, 1990, sold at N3, 500,000 ($21,875) and Fidelis Odogwu’s Wazobia I, II, III, 2012, which brought in N2, 200,000 ($13,750). Collectively, these top three selling works accounted for 20.25% of the total volume of sales.
However, the total value of sales was up 51.81% from the November 2012 sales. The top 3 selling works, all sculptures, sold above the N5, 000,000 ($31,250) mark; A 1959 untitled wood figure of a female dancer by Ben Enwonwu at N13, 200,000 ($82,500); Lanh (2003-2013), wooden panels executed from 2003 – 2013 by El Anatsui at N13, 200,000 ($82,500) which also achieved a record for the artist in Nigeria; and a painting, Storm at Umunede, 1978 by Ben Enwonwu at N7, 700,000 ($48,125) accounted for 27.28% of total sales value.
The positive interest in the market for modern and contemporary African art was sustained with Arthouse’s first auction of the year, which achieved more dramatic results.
Overall, from the results of both auctions, it appeared that buyers were willing to compete strongly for classic examples of works by the older and more established artists.
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
Comparative Performance: Arthouse Contemporary, Terra Kulture â€“ April/May 2013 Arthouse Contemporary May 2013
Terra Kulture April 19
N124, 982,000 (incl. 10% premium)
N47, 400,000 (Hammer price)
Number of Lots
N1, 275,327 (incl. 10% premium)
N752, 380.95 (Hammer price)
Above mid - estimate
Below mid - estimate
Arthouse Contemporary May 2013 Top 5 Auction Prices Lots
Incl. 10% premium
Storm at Umunede
Yin & Yang
Terra Kulture April 19, 2013 Top 5 Auction Prices Lots
Wazobia I, II, III
Road to my Village
Oke Arin Market
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Ben Enwonwu, Untitled, 1959, wood, 135cm Sold for N13,200,000 ($ 82,500) at Arthouse Contemporary, May 13, 2013
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
AS PHOTOGRAPHY GAINS A FOOTHOLD ON THE NIGERIAN MARKET WORDS OLIVER ENWONWU
Adeleke Adekola, The Charge, 2009, C-print mounted on plexiglass, edition 4 of 5, 50 x 229 cm Sold for N2,200,000 ($13,472) at Arthouse Contemporary, May 7, 2012
Arguably, the first time photography was offered for sale at an auction in Nigeria was at the Arthouse Contemporary sale in Lagos on May 9, 2011, which realized a sum of N605, 000 ($ 3,781) but paled in comparison to the presale estimate of N2,600,000 –N3,400,000 ($ 16,250-21,250). This figure was realized from the sale of the single work, Argungun by George Osodi valued at N500,000-N700,000 ($ 3,125-4,375) . The November 21 sale the same year featured 3 photographs, but fared no better with N396,000 ($ 2,475) achieved from
photography sales, far lower than the presale estimate of N1,400,000-N1,900,000 ($8,750-11,875). Again, a single work, Beating Room by Adolphus Opara was sold from the works offered. Both auctions clearly underline buyers’ reluctance to fully accept photography as a collectible medium.
the evening, Adekola Adeleke’s The Charge, sold for N2,200,000 ($13,750), establishing a record for the artist. Yetunde Babaeko also set a record for her work with The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I selling for N220,000 ($1,375), above a pre-sale estimate of N150,000-N180,000 ($ 940 -1,125)
The May 2012 sale is perhaps Arthouse’s most successful inclusion of photography in an auction till date. Here, the auction achieved a 100% success sales rate with all the 6 works offered realizing a sum of N3, 740, 000($23,375). The top-selling photograph on
The November 2012 auction by Arthouse Contemporary recorded a dip in sales from photography as only N2,123, 000 ($13,270) was achieved, with a 50% success rate as only 4 of the 8 works offered sold. The highest sold photograph was George Osodi’s Eyo at
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N1,320,00 ($8,250) which set a personal best. Arthouse Contemporary auction of May 13, 2013 included 3 contemporary photographs, which recorded a 100% sale and collectively achieved N3,366,000 ( $21,040, including premium) against a pre-sale estimate of N2,280,000-2,920,000 ($1,425-1,8250). With earlier successes recorded this year for photography, Arthouse’s forthcoming auction sales of November 18, 2013 will hopefully boost confidence in collectors to acquire works of photography.
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MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
MARKET FILE - AUCTIONS
TOP 10 SELLING PHOTOGRAPHS No.
Title and Date
The Charge 2009
May 7, 2012
The Dredgers: Rice Bag Armada 2012
May 13, 2013
Nov 26, 2012
Lagos Lagoon 2007
May 13, 2013
May 9, 2011
Hall of Fame-Olusegun Obasanjo 2012
May 7, 2012
Maryland Ikeja 2007
May 7, 2012
Yetunde Ayeni Babaeko
Praying Mantis 2012
May 13, 2013
Beating Room 2009
Nov 21, 2011
Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I, 2011 Sold for N220,000 ($1,347)
Nov 26, 2012
Up NEPA 2011
Nov 26, 2012
The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I 2011
May 7, 2012
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Title and Date
The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King II 2011
May 7, 2012
The Lost Coin 2011
May 7, 2012
Yetunde Ayeni BabaEko
Osun Goddess 2012
Nov 26, 2012
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MARKET FILE - INVESTMENT
MARKET FILE - INVESTMENT Indian.” The first one said, “But she is not, they have lived in this country for so long how can you say that they are nobody, they are Nigerians”. Why Nigerian art? That is where I am from. OM: Your family has strong ties with Nigeria leading to the establishment of the famous Aswani Textiles. What was growing up like would you say your background influenced your interest in art? My father set up Aswani in the early 1960s. I only visited here for the first time in 1970. I grew up in India. After Aswani was established, we used to come here regularly. I only came to live here after I got married in 1977. When I came, I would visit the factory to see the printing and my father would take me round. He was passionate about textiles. We had a textile factory in India, that is why he set up one here. He loved printing. We had many people working for us, who specialized in textile design and came all the way from India. I remember especially the office where they designed African fabrics. There were several bales of different coloured weaves. We had clients who came in to specify what they needed. Huge orders were made. Being surrounded by colours and prints, I fell in love with art and everything African. Knowing all the different fabric and learning about Nigerian and wax fabrics was the precursor that pushed me into design.
MAKING A CASE FOR NIGERIAN ART Kavita Chellaram, owner of Arthouse Contemporary, a leading auction house in Lagos, is conceivably more Nigerian than is thought, given her family’s century-long ties with Nigeria. She attributes her love for art and Africa to the beautiful colours and patterns of the fabrics produced by her father’s famous company, Aswani. In this interview, she shares the inspiration behind the establishment of Arthouse with record sales of works by Nigerian artists, and her partnerships with prestigious corporate organizations including Standard Chartered, Access banks and Renaissance Capital.
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OM: Who is Kavita Chellaram? I am a wife, mother, daughter and a great patron of the arts. I will like to talk a bit about my family who have been here since 1917 for over 90 years. I just want to say that I love this country. I have lived here with my husband since 1977 for 35 years in a property we owned since 1960. So this is home for us, where we live and work. It is not a question of being a foreigner. People talk about me and say “This foreigner”. I am not a foreigner. Some people writing a book about 50 Nigerian women said to me “I want to interview you”, another said, “She is not a Nigerian, she is
OM: You own the leading art auction in Nigeria, and perhaps in West Africa. How would you describe yourself; a curator, manager or consultant? I think I am more of a curator as I try to include a comprehensive selection of artworks within a limited number of auction lots. Our auction house does not really run like those abroad, where everything comes from the secondary market. Here we also get work from the primary market; directly from artists. We often include some young and new artists and for them this is great exposure, it is a type of promotion for them. OM: Did you have any prior experience as an art dealer? No! But I have always wanted to do something in the arts. I own a large collection of Indian art and so I thought of opening a gallery that would deal in that, but then I thought no. There is very little
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happening in Nigeria, and no way we can neglect that. There has not been a proper auction and enough galleries. Before I went into auctions, there was no transparency in pricing. People had works to sell but there was nowhere they could go. Go to a dealer and he might say X, but there was no reference point to say this is the correct price. Now people can look up on artist in our catalogues or the top 50 artists in the country and check why Ben Enwonwu should be worth so much. So there is a guiding line today. Now I see a lot of collectors, who can sell works they no longer require or swap them and buy something else. I know someone who asked, “Why don’t you come to Kenya and start what you have done here because we have no secondary market?” That is exactly what we needed to establish here. OM: You are reputed to own one of the finest collections of art in Nigeria. How long have you been collecting works, and which are your most treasured? I started buying Nigerian art about 12 years ago. The first two works I bought were from the Osogbo school; one was a Twins Seven Seven and the other was a Jimoh Buraimoh. One work which I treasure is a Grillo. I purchased it at the Living Masters exhibition held at Terra Kulture in 2007. That show was where my eyes opened and I saw many other artists I had never seen before. Other works I treasure indeed are by Ben Enwonwu, Uche Okeke, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Ben Osawe and Osahenye Kainebi. From then on, I started buying more art including wood works. OM: What is your assessment of art on the local scene; what inspired you to start an auction in Nigeria? I think the main reason was to have a platform where there could be transparency in pricing. The second was to promote Nigerian artists, to bring them to the forefront and out internationally. Arthouse has many clients abroad. We sell our catalogues abroad and do a lot of advertising to have them come in. I think people are realizing there is something going on in Nigeria. I also think all this happened after the start of Arthouse. Now we can look up artists and find them on the internet. OM: Are there plans to set up similar auction houses in India or any other West African country?
MARKET FILE - INVESTMENT
MARKET FILE - INVESTMENT
A lot of people we put in are good and have been around for a long time. It is just that we may not have come across them. It is difficult because there are not enough galleries showing them. I have learned so much in the last years that yes, I would like to use my skills in other African countries. I wish we can get the whole of Africa with one voice, saying, “This is Africa”. Of course, Arthouse will always specialize in West African art because this is where we are based. It will be interesting to bring others across to Nigeria and make them more aware of what we are doing as well as to get Nigerians familiar with what is happening in countries like Ghana, the Congo, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa. There are not enough exhibitions for artists in other parts of Africa. I think Nigeria, being an oil producing country where people have so much money, should try to help other African countries. OM: Briefly explain how you source your works and the process involved in selecting for your auction? When we finish an auction, we start working on the next by looking around, going to artists’ studios to see what they have done and asking them to submit work. We also get works from collectors and dealers by putting in calls to consign. Normally, anywhere else in the world, the older, established artists have their contemporary works in a separate kind of bracket, but we are not mature enough to do that. There is a need to blend the two. This way, people can see the different works of different periods. I think it is a bit of a history lesson, people will be aware of what we have. Unfortunately, in schools there are not many lessons on art history and there is very little contemporary art shown in museums. I had a few lessons to learn - there was nowhere to learn about the business of art or see examples of work by Ben Enwonwu or Yusuf Grillo. I had to learn by looking
and talking to people like Oliver Enwonwu and Olasehinde Odimayo, who has been a source of inspiration and help to me in learning about African art. Of course, Nike has also been amazing in teaching me about Osogbo. She has done relentless work in promoting art in every way; fabric making, printing, tie-and-dye and all those wonderful things. I have been present at her courses on how to do tie-and-dye and all that. It is amazing — everybody along the way being a source of inspiration. It has been incredible. OM: Do you consider it a risk including work by young artists who may not have sustained practices? I think for them it is incredible to be put into a show with masters; they get so excited. People come in to buy at the auction, so it is not a question of a person being a younger or older artist. Genuinely people walk in and say, “I love this painting, I think it is amazing and I am going to buy it”. Every time we put in someone new, I would say 8 or 9 times out of ten, we succeed in selling his works and have people come back saying “Oh! We love this artist, can you source me some more of his works.” This gives the artist the confidence to say “I was good enough to be put into Arthouse. Well I can do it, paint again, come back to show works. A lot of artists come in; everyone has credentials and been to art school. There are a few young artists who walk in and have not had a show. Sometimes we go to shows by young artists who may not be able to approach us. For example, I saw Victor Ehikhamenor at a show at Bisi Silva’s. I also saw Victor Ekpuk, Ndidi Dike and George Osodi. A lot of people we put in are good and have been around for a long time. It is just that we may not have come across them. It is difficult because there are not enough galleries showing them. People have shows
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that are for only a week. If you happen not to be here that week, you kind of lose out on the artist. I think in last 5 or 6 years there have been many art shows compared with 35 years ago. In fact, artists are showing at least once a year, having salons and being supported by galleries. One of our main ways is going to the galleries to see what they have. Most of the galleries only have artists who are already established. They do not just wake up and put somebody new. For example, we wanted to have a show with Jerry Buhari last year. If you think about it, Lagos has not been exposed to Buhari in many years. I do not know when his last exhibition was. Our auction is also a way of bringing artists that are established but do not have a way of showing their works in Lagos. I think about 80% to 90% of the artists we auction are established, but we also go to universities to find others. For example Eva Obodo was given to us by El Anatsui. I call people to ask, “Tell us who their professors are because they have not had a show in Lagos.” It is difficult to find artists, we get names from senior professors and artists in universities to help us in our selection. OM: From records, photography seems the least represented genre of visual art on your auctions. Is there a reason for that? I think there is. Nigerians are still not completely sold to it, but they are getting there. In my last auction, we had lots of photography. I think 70% to 80% of them did not sell, so we reduced them and kept 3 or 4 we knew would sell. They did and are; George Osodi, Adekola Adeleke, Yetunde Babaeko and Victor Ehikamenor. We have also tried artists who are quite famous abroad but I think Nigerians are not aware that photography is art and have not got to that stage of collecting it. The young people that come to the auction, like photography. It took America and Europe a long time to get photography at the same level as art but what we are trying to do is put everything all at one time, so it is not going to be that easy. When we do every auction, we slip in a new artist that we think is good. We started off with Ojeikere and sold two of his works. I think we are going back to works of the old photographers like Don Barber. We will bring in a couple of old and a few new names. I think photography is an incredible medium of art and we definitely want to do
as much as we can. OM: George Osodi recorded N1m for one of his works, does this in essence signal the beginning of a new trend in the sale of photography in Nigeria, or do you think the breakthrough owed more to the pedigree of George Osodi himself or is this just a one-off sale, which is not likely to be sustained as long as one would expect? George Osodi is world-acclaimed, but I feel we are still not used to the idea of collecting photography. I think people are becoming aware of what is going on with all the TV and internet. There is so much information. I am sure Nigerian photography has to be one of the best in the world. OM: How do you obtain provenance or manage issues arising from its inaccessibility? We had a couple of issues I think everybody has, but when work comes in, we first find out from whom it has come; if there is a dispute on it or if it has been stolen. So many works here are stolen. So if somebody says buy this, we show it to our specialists. If they say no, there is a dispute on the work, we do not put it in auction. All the works we get
come from the collectors who say they have bought it directly from artists. Most of the works we get come from the person who first bought them. It is the first time work has been sold here generally. Normally it is from the artist to the collector, who comes himself to us. Sometimes of course, the work goes back to the dealers who brings it in then says I bought it from the collector. We can always verify from the collector who bought from the artist or perhaps a dealer. I think we are lucky here in Nigeria because we are not talking about a hundred years just 50 or 60years. It is only in the last 10 or 20 years people started reselling works. OM: How do you deal with issues of authentication? If an Enwonwu comes in for instance, I will call two or three people I know who dealt with him and knew him. So for each work that comes to our door, we have to call on specialists that know the artist. We talk to the artist’s families or contemporaries. So for example with Gani Odutokun, Simon Okeke or Okhai Ojeikere, we identify their contemporaries. Basically families come into this in a big way because children grew up with the art, they know the art. For example, Isaac Emokpae grew up with two
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works that I have here, because they were in the house all the time and then got sold. So we are very lucky that it’s not the 16th or 17th century. OM: Art is fast emerging as an alternative investment globally; how do you think Nigerian and African art has fared in this context; and is there any room for improvement? I think it has fared quite well, today people buy art. They are spending large amounts of money, which they never did before, because they realize there is value in the works. If I go out to buy 5 Ben Enwonwus for N6m, I know there is a resale value in them. May be in 2 years, I’ll be able to sell them for more. We have had works that we resold at auction. Being our 10th auction, works normally come back. They say it takes between 3-5 years for them to resurface in the market. A lot of works we sold at first, doubled or tripled in value in later auctions. So where we sold an Enwonwu in the first auction, a torso for N1.5m, I will value that today for at least N6 or N7m. That is an appreciation of 3 to 4 times. We have brought in quite a few works we resold in this auction. People realize that in our archives, they would see
MARKET FILE - INVESTMENT what came up before and that the price has changed and moved up. I think as far as investment is concerned, people are aware art is valuable and they can always sell if they want. Everyone recognizes that there are opportunities that were initially not there. I went to someone’s house recently, a collector. He had some works of art he bought from me. Of course, you recognize all the works you have sold and then all their other work and you realize how passionate people are, how much they love the art and how happy they are. So it is not only the question of art as an investment, you have to buy something you really love because you have to live with it for the rest of your life, unless you sell it. Suddenly you wake up and say, “Oh my God! This is so beautiful, I am living with beauty.” It is investment as well as beauty. You should never really look at art as just investment, you have to love it! That should be the first thing, then investment comes second. Africa is no longer the lost or dark continent. Everyone is turning to Africa for everything, including opportunities. Art is another thing and people are asking, “What can we find over there?” Some wonder what Africa has to offer until they become exposed to African art and realize they love it. Many people who come from abroad, view our artwork with passion. They buy to take back with them. It is so amazing how art is going across borders. OM: How do you establish or estimate value for Nigerian art, considering the non-standardized value system and mechanism for pricing artwork on the Nigerian art market? I think an auction gives you a great guide. We put an estimate on a work, then it goes into the auction, and the audience determines the price. They may take the value as double of what I said because they feel it’s worth that much. It does not mean at the next auction, the artist’s work will double in price. When it comes back, we still put it where we think it belongs. Before, people gave us prices. Now we do a lot of research based on other auctions. Works by Ben Enwonwu for example, were sold for years at international auctions with topographical drawings not necessarily African, before African art sales started. His works have been taken out of those because
MARKET FILE - INVESTMENT
I think an auction gives you a great guide. We put an estimate on a work, then it goes into the auction, and the audience determines the price. They may take the value as double of what I said because they feel it’s worth that much. there is more value. Africans are the ones buying the works at high value. In fact, these international auctions determine values based on our auctions here. We both rely on each other for valuation and that is quite nice because we have a guideline. OM: Lack of proper gallery representation and arbitrary hiking of prices of artworks by galleries and dealers are just some of the problems of our poorly structured primary market. These, coupled with others earlier highlighted, hardly form a good foundation to build a secondary market. Do you think the auctions are further complications? New galleries are opening up. I think there is more representation out there; galleries are getting better and being more selective. I feel having artists in the auction house is just more exposure for them, because the galleries may be drawing a different pool of people. The great part is the concerted effort in bringing new people into the art world. We are trying to create a stable art market in this country and anything that goes towards this is a great help. Galleries have longer exhibitions where people are able to become more acquainted with the artist. OM: Nigerian art fetches relatively lower prices than South African art on the international market. What do you think are the reasons for this? South Africa has always had an established art market way before we started. Unfortunately, we have a smaller collector base. For example, El Anatsui is worldacclaimed but still under appreciated on the domestic market. I foresee a situation where prices for his work begin to rise in this country.
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OM: What is your relationship with other major international auction houses like Bonhams? What kind of competition exists, and are there concerted efforts from Arthouse and other auctioneers to promote Nigerian and African art? We have a good rapport, we talk to each other, and send each other our catalogues for research. I think it is great that there is another auction house doing similar work, so it is quite comparable the kind of artwork we have and those they put up. It helps, it is amazing because not only one person is putting us on the map. Who knows who is coming up next to learn more about not only Nigerian, but African art. That is why I went all the way to open up here to make it African, more global. The whole point was to get Nigerians to know what they have before they go out to bring other works. We are going out now to look for artists like Gary Stephens, who has been well received. I think people buy what they want and it is about time we bring in a few more reputable artists from Senegal, Mali, Congo and South Africa. OM: Who are your major clients; expatriates or Nigerians? We definitely have both. The expatriates are always the ones who come first to appreciate the art before the others. Everywhere in the world, even in India, the first people who collected works were the Americans, more so than the Indians. It took them a longer time to appreciate what they had. In every auction, we get about 5 or 10 big clients unknown to us. They just walk in, I do not even know if they are Nigerian or the exact ratio. I do not have the figures, but it is about equal, though more Nigerians are buying now. It’s a bug, you get addicted to what you see.
OM: Arthouse has forged partnerships with financial institutions such as Access Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Renaissance Capital. Can you expatiate on these partnerships? Access was the first to collaborate with me. We have had quite a few auctions with them. They are veterans of the arts and in essence, they have been there for us. That was just for one year, a memorable one. Since then, we have had different partners, like Standard Chartered. There is a foundation we support by donating four works. They are happy with the partnership we have with Standard Chartered, an annual charity, Seeing is Believing. Standard Chartered matches whatever way we sponsor. All the money is used in Nigeria for their operations. Last year, the money we collected was $150,000. Standard Chartered matched what we got from the auction, and it was all used to help cataract patients and fight blindness. Again this year we are giving $42,000. They will get another $42,000. So about $80- 90,000 is going into the account, which is fabulous. We are both excited by this. We also have a partnership with Renaissance Capital. OM: Are you involved in any such scheme which explores the potentials of artwork as collateral for obtaining financial support for artists and collectors alike? Not all art work is collateral. I spoke to Engineer Shyllon about setting up a health foundation with Oyerinde Olotu being sick and David Dale having a stroke. We want to do a kind of fund for artists where there is health insurance. I do not want to be quoted yet saying what it would entail but we might retain a bit of the profit that the artist makes for the fund. We may add some money to make it corporate and then have all the artists do a group policy. A group is cheaper than one person getting an insurance policy, and would be 4 or 5 artists with their wives and up to 4 children. Each artist will give so much per year to this fund and so their check - up at the hospital and medical attention will be taken good care of rather than sending a message, “Oh my God! A certain person is sick, we need money” Basically we want to do these things where you help yourself, and everyone gets a good price and a good deal. That is definitely one of the things I have come across - an artist dies or is sick and needing some medical care and attention.
The other thing Arthouse is planning to do this year is a charity, where we will educate art students in the universities and give out scholarships. We are going to work out some money for 2 or 4 students a year from each of the universities. Eventually when they come out, help them through residencies where they are able to paint and have shows. The charity begins when they go back to school next semester. We want to start with Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. OM: What has been your experience with Nigerian artists in general? I think I have made many friends. It is a whole new world I have come across, which I would never have. OM: Besides organizing auctions, do you plan to set up an art gallery in Nigeria, India or elsewhere to manage the careers of artists, and provide works which may be put up for auction? No! There’s a difference between an auction house and a gallery and we do not want that to conflict. We do not want people to feel that we are encroaching on every business. I think there are enough galleries to deal with artists here. OM: GT Bank’s recent partnership with Tate to acquire Nigerian and African artworks for the Tate abroad has generated a lot of debate as to what benefits are accruable to Nigeria, particularly in the absence of a national gallery. What is your opinion on that? It was misrepresented. The people who came here were not the Tate; they were the African Acquisition Fund that buys artwork for the Tate. The Tate has many funds; they have the Russian, Asian, American photography, Chinese photography and so on. These people give donations to the
Tate, and with that money, they buy works of art. GT Bank has given money to the Tate. They do not necessarily buy only Nigerian but works from all over Africa. At least they are going to be shown. There is nowhere in Nigeria you can tell me you have a national gallery where you can see works from everywhere. Everyone has works from all over the world; Indian works go abroad and English works go to museums in America. How will people get to appreciate the works if they do not go across borders? The whole point is that the world has become so borderless, why do we want to keep everything for ourselves? We go for a show in England because Tate has taken the effort. Then you are able to see works by Richter or different artists who are not necessarily from the UK. The same way here, it would be wonderful if someone came and said I would like to do a show on this artist from Nigeria and then we have a marvelous show from the Tate with what we have. GT Bank has done a big thing for Nigerian art. There are so many shows they have sponsored; without them they would not have held. It has been a great partnership with the arts, and we are so lucky to have GT Bank as a great sponsor, without them, we would not have had a show at the Tate with Adolphus Opara participating. Having a Nigerian contemporary photographer at the Tate for the first time would not have been possible. So I think we have to commend them for what they have done for art and on their collaboration with the Tate. OM: What is your projection for Nigerian art in the next decade? I think by saying across borders, I hope that in 10 years, the kind of work we do now will be seen everywhere in the world and Nigerian artists will be as famous as Damian Hirst.
There’s a difference between an auction house and a gallery and we do not want that to conflict.
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MARKET FILE - GALLERY
MARKET FILE - GALLERY
A NEW PLATFORM DEDICATED TO CONTEMPORARY ART IN LAGOS Experts attribute the growth of contemporary art in Africa to the proliferation of spaces or platforms for its production and display including Espace doual’art, L’appartment 22, Bag Factory, and the CCA Lagos. Art 21 has recently joined this growing list.
Since the mid 1990s, there has been a steep rise in the number of spaces to facilitate the development, production and presentation of contemporary art in Africa. Some of the more established spaces are Espace doual’art, set-up in 1995 by Marilyn Doual and Didier Schaul in Cameroon. Others include L’appartment 22 in Morroco, the Townhouse Gallery in Egypt, the Nubuke Foundation in Ghana founded by Kofi Setordji and the CCA Lagos. There are also the Raw Material Company, Dakar, created in 2008 by Koyo Kouoh, who is also the artistic director and the South Africa-based Bag Factory, an important collective studio space established in 1991 by Robert Loder and David Koloane, and the first to offer residency programmes. Industry expert Bomi Odufunade attributes the increasing global attention to contemporary African art to the establishment of these experimental platforms. “The growth and success of independent visual spaces and cultural centres across Africa has led to a significant
transformation of the contemporary art scene.” Recently launched with exhibitions by Olu Amoda and Nnenna Okore, Art 21 owned and run by Caline Chagoury, is gradually establishing a presence on the Lagos contemporary art scene. “I do not consider it to be a gallery because if it were, I would not have called it Art 21 and it would not be located in a hotel. It would be a separate entity. Instead, what I have established is an art consulting and management company called Echo Art through which I have an agreement with Eko Hotel and Suites to create and run a space at the hotel dedicated to art.”
Photo: Marc C.
clean, industrial and contemporary.” Asked what led her into setting up the space, Caline explains she was initially looking to open a gallery, but realized there was something else she would rather do. She was brainstorming with a friend over a name for the space and they came up with Art 21. “That is fresh! It is exactly what this space is. It is 21st century–
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Barring these slight draw-backs, the 600 square metre-space is embarking on an ambitious programme of independent and collaborative shows, and is set to achieve its objectives as a platform for promoting internationally, the work of local and regional contemporary artists.
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MARKET FILE - GALLERY
MARKET FILE - GALLERY
the promotion of the Transvangarde. What exactly does this concept mean and how successful have you been in realizing it? The word Transvangarde was coined by one of the founders and current trustee, John Allen. Wishing to go beyond the monopoly of the Western avant-garde, the gallery reached out to artists around the world working in new innovative ways. The Transvangarde has now become the way forward but when we first started, we were the only gallery to exhibit artists outside the Western canon.
October Gallery was founded in 1979 and was the first gallery in the UK to present contemporary art from all around the world. Over the years, it has supported some of the most innovative and exciting artists from the Middle East, Oceania, Asia and Africa, where it has built a reputation for bringing to international attention many of the continent’s leading artists like El Anatsui, Romuald Hazoume, Rachid Koraichi, Julien Sinzogan, Nnenna Okore and Gerard Quenum. As a registered charity, October Gallery also runs a significant educational programme, while maintaining a cultural hub in central London, hosting talks, performances and seminars for poets, writers, artists and intellectuals. Recently, Omenka got a hold of its directors to share how they have inspired the growth of contemporary African art.
Chili Hawes Director Photo: Jonathan Greet
painted ideas. Intelligence, intuition, action the structures of man’s hope.
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga: Ituika–Transformation, Installation view
OM: Who is Chili Hawes and how did you get involved with art? I am the director and a trustee of October Gallery. As a student at the Sorbonne in Paris in the early sixties, I went frequently to the Jeu de Paume, which at that time housed the most famous works of Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Looking at those works for the first time effected such a dramatic chemical change within me that I began to study art in earnest. (Chili Hawes) OM: What is your role as director of
October Gallery? I am responsible for all the operations of the gallery, the building that we lease and the financial and legal operations. I work closely with the artistic director, Elisabeth Lalouschek. I am also interested in generating a creative group of people working together to make a cultural oasis, an artistic caravanserai. (Chili Hawes) OM: The October Gallery is one of the older and best-known galleries in the world, how was it started and what was
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the initial vision? The initial vision was the Transvangarde, the exhibition of work from around the planet. We opened in February 1979 with the exhibition of Gerald Wilde, a British artist, a genius, an outstanding painter who had been neglected. Championed by Roland Penrose, Tambimuttu, David Sylvester, John Berger and a few critics who understood his art, Wilde needed to be re-introduced. His work would be our key-stone for what we wished to accomplish. He was a dynamic painter, a magnificent colourist, and he
OM: Who were the founders and have there been structural modifications since its establishment? The founders were directors of the Institute of Ecotechnics, also a registered UK charity, which had set up ecological projects around the world. This was the first project to be in the heart of a world city. The founders purchased the building in the summer of 1978. The building was very run down, one fourth of the building had dry rot and the interior was bleak. I came at that time to refurbish the building, create an art gallery and restaurant on the ground floor, build apartments on the first floor, and a clubroom and a theatre on the second floor. This was a hands-on project like all the other projects the institute has catalysed. All the building work was done with much good will from the start-up gang, artists and friends who shared a vision. After an intense refurbishment period accomplished with very little money, we opened October Gallery to the public in February 1979 with the work of Gerald Wilde. The gallery became a registered charity in 1986 because of its educational work. OM: The October Gallery prides itself on
OM: In 34 years of its existence, what have been the major challenges and how has the gallery been able to sustain and build on its successes for this long? The major challenge at the beginning was to stay afloat. I think a large part of our process was perseverance with aim. We were exhibiting artists that no one in Europe had ever heard of. Neither were they used to the values of these artists. Overall, we have exhibited works of artists from over 80 different countries and many different cultures within those countries. We held the first one-man shows in the UK of the work of the now well known Brion Gysin, Kenji Yoshida, William Burroughs, Ira Cohen, El Anatsui, Romuald Hazoume and Rachid Koraichi. In order to survive, we cut costs to the bone and had several streams of income: renting our spaces for meetings, events; hosting concerts, dance performances, poetry readings, seminars and lectures; selling books, catalogues; and selling art. The education department which was formed in the nineties did get some funding from grant-making bodies for workshops given in the gallery and in schools. Luckily the perseverance paid off and now our income is mainly from art sales around the world. However, now that the art world has caught on to the Transvangarde, we are no longer unique in operating in this area, so our new challenge has been to raise the ante to create a special vision within that arena. OM: The October Gallery is known as one of the earliest promoters of contemporary African art in London, what is unique about art from the continent, and what in your view is attributable to its increasing visibility with rising values at major auction houses, and the inclusion of African artists in international fairs and major museum collections?
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We have been promoting contemporary art for 34 years. With the arrival of the internet and easy worldwide connections, the landscape started to shift. Initially more slowly, but rapidly in the last 5-7 years. The receptivity for and interest in contemporary art from all around the world increased. Contemporary African art became part of this phenomenon. We have been intensely promoting contemporary African artists for many years, through exhibitions, publications, collaborations with many international museums and participation in art fairs, and have therefore been able to greatly increase visibility. OM: How easy was it to get works of the African artists you represent to be generally accepted in London? Initially the interest was limited to a network of academics, collectors, publications and museums with a particular interest in African art. This has increased dramatically over the last few years to include contemporary art museums, international collectors and many publications and newspapers. OM: Please tell us about some of your most remarkable collaborations with major international museums. This summer we collaborated with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where
Ella Phillips Education Manager Photo: Jonathan Greet
MARKET FILE - GALLERY
MARKET FILE - ARTIST DOSSIER
MALICK SIDIBÉ A work of art is unique with inherent powers. A collector is establishing a relationship between him/herself and another singular object in this world, thus increasing individuality. Elisabeth Lalouschek Artistic Director Photo: Jonathan Greet
El Anatsui clad the façade of the academy with his largest bottle-top work to date, a project which received much attention from the press and the public. Another rewarding collaboration was the presentation by the British Museum of La Bouche du Roi by Romuald Hazoumè. The museum presented the large installation in a specially made setting in a prominent gallery space in the centre of the museum, and subsequently toured this exhibition to several museums in the United Kingdom. OM: From September 12 to October 26 this year, you will be presenting the work of Kenyan artist Naomi Wanjiku Gakinja Gakunga. How do you select artists you represent? We select artists based on the power and energy of their work. In Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga’s case, We are interested in her use of oxidised metal and the way she uses the creative potential of this chemical process in the making of her work. We are also intrigued by the way coloured lines run through and interact with space in her installation, Folkclorico. OM: Several initiatives like the Own Art Scheme encourage people to buy art, what in your opinion inspires them to collect art?
A work of art is unique with inherent powers. A collector is establishing a relationship between him/herself and another singular object in this world, thus increasing individuality.
EAL groups. We also run longer, artist-led projects, which take place both in the gallery and at schools/centres over a period of days or weeks, usually leading to a permanent artwork.
OM: Your gallery runs several educational and charitable programmes, can you tell us more about them and how effective they have been in shaping society. October Gallery’s Education Department aims to communicate the rich, stylistic diversity of contemporary art from around the world through workshops and outreach projects. We welcome participants of all ages and abilities.
October Gallery’s artist-led community outreach programme emphasises collaborative and diverse partnership work; from Early Years’ centres to elders’ groups. Projects take place both on-site at October Gallery and at partner venues. Our community projects range from working with disabled artists, women who have been trafficked, refugees and people suffering mental health issues. We also maintain our visibility in the local area by participating in the Bloomsbury Festival.
Our education programme is split into three strands: Family Learning, Schools and Community. Family Learning focuses on how we can encourage families to learn together. We run several Family Art Days a month onsite and offsite. We also run a monthly session at local prisons during family visits. The Schools and Early Years gallery programme provides 1½ to 2-hour, artist-led workshops, held in the gallery. Workshop content is related to the work of our exhibiting artist. Using observation, discussion, a variety of practical and artistic techniques, sessions are taught in the context of the art on display. Our workshops are tailored to suit children of all ages, from Early Years, through Key Stages 1 to 5. We welcome special schools and
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Yokoro, 1970, Sold for N573,750 (£2,250) at the Bonhams African Now Auction, May 22, 2013
OM: October Gallery has increased its participation in international fairs, how rewarding have they been and what in your view is the overall contribution of art fairs to contemporary discourse, amidst criticisms of the commercialization of art? Participation in art fairs in different parts of the world allows us to increase the collector base as well as introduce artists to new regions. For example, October Gallery introduced contemporary African artists to Dubai beginning in 2008.
Malian photographer Malick Sidibé is best known for his black-and-white studies of popular culture in Bamako. He was born in 1935 into a Peul family in a small village in Soloba, and graduated from school in 1952. He completed his studies in design and jewelry at the École des Artisans Soudanais in Bamako.
OM: What are October Gallery’s future plans? To continue to show and promote exceptional artists internationally.
Sidibé gained increased recognition through the first meeting on African photography in Mali in 1994. His work is now exhibited extensively in Europe, the United States, Japan, France, Spain and other parts of Africa. He is represented by Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
In 1955, Sidibe undertook an apprenticeship at Gérard Guillat – Guignard’s Photo Service Boutique, also known as Gégé la Pellicule. Consequently, he took up photography as a profession the following year. In 1958, he opened his own studio called Studio Malick in Bamako, specializing in documentary photography with a focus on the youth culture of the Malian capital and in the 1970s, turned to studio portraiture.
In 2003, Sidibé received the Hasselblad Award for photography and was awarded the Golden Lion in 2007 at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He also received the ICP Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. Sidibe’s work forms part of The Jean Pigozzi Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) and several prominent institutions and museums around the world. In 2006, Tigerlily Films made a documentary, Dolce Vita Africana about him at work in his studio in Bamako, having a reunion with many of his friends and former photographic subjects from his younger days and discussing his work. At this May’s auction sale themed Africa Now at Bonhams, Malick Sidibe’s set of three signed photographs, Yokoro, 1970, Danseur Mérengué, 1964 and Les deux soeus en même tenue, 1977, (each made in gelatin print) sold for £2,250 (including buyer’s premium).
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DRINKING WELL Château Palmer has changed hands over the years, says Anthony Barne, but its quality remains consistent
It’s not just the reassuringly English ring of the name Palmer that has drawn the British claret lover to one of Bordeaux’s foremost châteaux over the years. First and foremost, it has been the quality of the wine and its spectacular rendering of the rich and fragrant style of the commune of Margaux. Château Palmer’s story begins in the 15th century, with the proprietor who refused to sign the surrender of Bordeaux to the French forces. His name was de Foix and, having been rewarded by the English with the title of Kendal, the family became known as Foix de Candale. The same family also owned the extensive vineyards that adjoined the beautiful moated building of Château d’Issan. It was a parcel of these vines that passed, by inheritance, to the du Gascq family in 1748. General Palmer, who had served under Wellington, bought Château du Gascq in 1814 and, in a fit of modesty, renamed it. He expanded the vineyard and laid the foundations for its ranking as a Third Growth in the 1855 classification. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt in the 1840s, before he could enjoy the plaudits. In 1853 the Château was bought by the Périeres, banking rivals to the Rothschilds, who had the ‘necessaries’ to re-plant the mildew-ravaged vineyard. In 1856 the Périeres built one of Bordeaux’s most elegant châteaux and the family continued to own Palmer until 1938, when a shrewd purchase was made by the Mähler-Besse and Sichel families. During the Second World War, German soldiers were billeted at the Château, their graffiti visible in the attic to this day, and times were tough until the property started to pay its way in 1953. The wine writer Edmund Penning-Rowsell knew Allan Sichel, the face
of Palmer in Britain, and recalled that Sichel made no bones about it if the Château had produced a poor wine, and tried to dissuade his customers from buying it. (How different from Bordeaux’s modern system of ‘allocations’, whereby if you don’t buy the lesser vintages, you can hardly expect to be offered the great ones.) Alongside the name Sichel is that of Chardon, managers at Palmer for over a century and, in recent generations, responsible for the fabulous wines that put the property on a par with the First Growths in 1961, 1966, 1970 and several other years. Even the 1967 was a notable wine. I remember it being served at the Château alongside Lafite, and there was no doubt as to which was better. Also on the table that night were the 1961, 1962, 1966 and 1970; in those days the cellar door stood ajar for British wine merchants, even of modest size (the businesses, I mean). Many of the ‘Super Seconds’ – Cos d’Estournel, Pichon- Lalande and Léoville-Las-Cases, for example – are neighbours to a First Growth, but Palmer doesn’t enjoy that advantage. Palmer’s vineyards originate from fellow Third Growths d’Issan and Desmirail. Although it may just have been inspired wine-making that put it ahead of Margaux through the 1960s and 1970s, that it is still challenging the First Growths in the 21st century implies that some very good choices with the plots of land must have been made over the years, including those by the General himself. Today the vineyard is planted with 47 per cent Merlot, higher than any other classed growth in the Médoc. This is said to give the wine a Pomerol-like richness alongside which, in time, the fragrant intensity of a classic Margaux will take its place.
Anthony Barne MW is UK Head of Wine at Bonhams
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STUDIO VISIT, SHOW AND TELL, REVIEWS
trusts paintings but people believe photographs. Not everybody
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REPORTS - STUDIO VISIT
REPORTS - SHOW AND TELL
UCHE JAMES-IROHA WORDS LADUN OGIDAN
THROUGH AN ARTIST’S LENS...
Rolls Royce I, 2013, printed on enhanced matt paper, 120x90cm
Uche James–Iroha was born in 1972 and studied sculpture at the University of Port Harcourt, graduating in 1995. A year after graduation, he became interested in photography and has since exhibited extensively in Nigeria and around the world. James-Iroha has been described as the “Leading light of a new generation of Nigerian photographers” by the Prince Claus Fund, a Netherlandsbased organization that promotes inter-cultural exchange. In his diverse work, he fuses the creative language of imagery with the documentation of everyday reality to address wide-ranging issues from economic imperialism to the brutal relationships, which exist between races, social class and gender. I paid the artist a visit at his Maryland home and studio. The silence of his expansive and well-cared-for building consisting of a gallery on the second floor and a workstation converted from an old garage, was broken by the impertinent barks of his enormous guard dogs. James- Iroha reveals that the expressive lines and forms on the walls of his home were scribbled by his close friend and artist Duke Asidere as he takes me to see some of his works being prepared for his upcoming solo show Power and Powers at the Omenka Gallery this December. This new series also forms part of Omenka’s presentation at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair taking place this year in London. According to the artist:
These are images that explore the dark and unprogressive romance in Nigeria between political power and electrical power distribution. Electricity is still a big issue in Nigeria, by far the most populous nation in the continent with vast human and material resources and enormous potentials. Marred by erratic power supply the nation is caught in the web of deceit where political office seekers clearly use the promise of “light” as the most effective bait. It is interesting to know that tons of white elephant projects, which include a cashless economic system and automated rail transport, are in the works gulping mammoth budgets but will all depend on an efficient electrical supply system. James - Iroha is the director of Photo Garage, which offers an indigenous platform for domestic and global intellectual photography exchanges. He is also the director of Depth of Field (DOF), a photography collective based in Lagos. He has been honoured with the Elan Prize at the African Photography Encounters in Mali, 2005 for his work, Fire, Flesh, and Blood, and the Prince Claus Award, 2008 for his work, the promotion of photography as an art form in Nigeria and his support for young artists.
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TY Bello, Wole Soyinka, 2005
Toyin ‘TY’ Bello (b. 1978) is an award-winning Nigerian contemporary photographer well-known for her portraits of everyday people, celebrities, powerful politicians and government officials including three succeeding Nigerian presidents among them, Goodluck Jonathan. Her staged portrait of Nobel laureate and political activist Prof. Wole Soyinka focuses on identity and the idea of social transformation. Soyinka is captured against a dark background and is leaning out of the picture plane, his pose and gesture preserving much of his dignity and strength of character. Colour and its association to moods have been explored throughout the history of art to create a sense of openness, a feeling of the celestial and grandeur. Here, Bello employs a streak of blue across Wole Soyinka’s face as a metaphor for his wisdom and strength of character. TY Bello holds a degree in economics from the University of Lagos. She has exhibited extensively around the world including A Perspective on Contemporary Nigerian Photography, Omenka
Gallery, Lagos (2009), New Positions in Contemporary Photography, International Centre of Photography, New York (2006), Arts Cape, South Africa (2006), and Journey from Lagos to London, South London Gallery, London (2004). As a humanitarian, the artist stages an annual photography exhibition and is a member of Depth of Field –a collective group that documents and addresses such socio-economic issues as ecological degradation and living conditions of the less privileged. Bello supports and is also the director of Link-a-Child, an NGO dedicated to propagating information on orphanages in Nigeria and soliciting sponsorship on their behalf. Toyin Bello has also won recognition as an accomplished musician and was a member of the successful gospel group, Kush. According to the artist, “Art is about collecting experiences and expressing them. For me, music and photography are similar art forms. I collect experiences, stir them in myself and express it in my own language. Just like my photography, music is my language.”
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REPORTS - EXHIBITION REVIEWS
REPORTS - EXHIBITION REVIEWS
NAOMI WANJIKU GAKUNGA: ITUIKA–TRANSFORMATION OCTOBER GALLERY September 12 – October 26, 2013 The ingenious use of stainless steel wire, galvanized sheet metal, rusted tin cans, fibre, stings and ribbons, which are hewn into wall hanging sculptures by Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga (b.1960), reflects her Kenyan background and personality. Her repurposing discarded objects has been likened to Nnenna Okore’s, where nothing is put to waste; follow the concept of Jua Kali, a Swahili expression literally meaning ‘under the hot sun’ and refer to the idea of chance effects created out of things which have been discarded. Her use of galvanized sheet metal, known in Swahili as mabati, is ubiquitous in Kenya. Used mainly for roofing materials and walls, this sheet metal is particularly associated with the Mabati Womens Group and their empowering community housing projects of the ‘60s. Gakunga observed the success of their efforts, the harvesting of water from the new roofs and the consequent ageing of the material itself. She mirrors these weathering effects in her own artistic process, and deliberately saturates rolls of sheet metal in water, a process that oxidizes the submerged surfaces, occasionally adding dyes to create different colours and other more complex effects. Finally, Gakunga selects, cuts and links the resultant pieces to assemble her wall hangings. These striking sculptures reflect, at one and the same time, both the mabati’s enduring functionality and its fragility; the delicate transformations etched in metal by the corrosive effects of water, chance and time emphasizing an ethereal, transient beauty.
crocheting and weaving, proudly maintaining traditions, which she skillfully interprets as contemporary art. The techniques Gakunga uses are common to the fibre arts across many traditions, but her chosen materials are not. Her sculptures explore the connections between the past and the present, between tradition and modernity and between the older generations and their contemporary descendants. The effect is both playful and provocative, and quite positively transformative.
box. You can sit next to somebody in a waiting room and say: ‘I’ve got something to show you”, and lift it out of its box. The idea is just to have fun - like picture books for children, which take them into another world. These are meant to act in the same way. It’s just the artist in [his] old age indulging in fun and games.
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga grew up among the Kikuyu people of Kenya. She first studied art at the University of Nairobi, Kenya then continued her studies at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), United States. She now lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. Gakunga has exhibited extensively in the United States, France, Brazil and Poland. Red Cloud, Camel and Afro Comb, ‘Compiled in April 1997’, Artist’s book, mixed media on paper, cloth and leather binding, 29 x 38 x 1.5cm
PETER CLARKE, JUST PAPER AND GLUE September 5 – October 12, 2013
Clarke has only recently seen wide recognition of his work with a South African retrospective, Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke, at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town and the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg (2011-12), accompanied by a major publication; and Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats at the Institute of International Visual Art (INIVA) in London (2013).
Using paint, pencil and scraps found in his post, these abstract collages are playful and whimsical. Clarke says of his books: You can’t fold up a Monet or a Cezanne or any precious work of art. But with one like this, you can fold it up and carry it in a little
DEBORAH POYNTON, PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION STEVENSON GALLERY, September 5 – October 12, 2013 the painted surface.
Another significant material found in these works is fibre or string. Gakunga’s grandmother was a major influence on her, as the traditional Kikuyu women would weave beautiful baskets from fibre extracted from makongo. She continues to use string and ribbons as primary materials within her work, acknowledging the contemporary in her usage of fine grade metal wires used to sew and crochet her works into organic wholes. Creating pieces that mimic the swaying movements of dancers’ dresses and that exude a light, airy quality, Gakunga notes, “String is entwined in the life of a Kikuyu woman, from the moment she is born until she departs.” Using these various metaphors to acknowledge her heritage, Gakunga’s work pays tribute to these succeeding generations of women, and her choice of materials and the processes of stitching,
While Clarke may emphasize the lightness and playfulness of these objects, they add depth to his artistic oeuvre. Like the Fanfare series, first exhibited in 2003, Clarke’s books find their place in the long modernist tradition of the collage. Clarke also embraces the tradition of the artist’s book, dating back hundreds of years and written about as a distinct artistic genre since the 1970s. Whereas his paintings might invite comparisons to Romare Bearden and Diego Rivera, the books in this exhibition suggest that awareness of Kurt Schwitters and Fluxus are equally significant to a full understanding of Clarke’s life and work.
Poynton purposefully describes these new works as pictures rather than paintings to emphasize the constructs of perception and imagery. In so doing, she reminds us of the act of seeing, and the devices and pictorial references which have invariably been consciously assembled within the image to create a desired meaning and effect. Rather than the narratives and expressive emotions that are often emphasized when looking at figurative and landscape paintings, Poynton prompts us to look at the fiction of an image that resembles realism. The artist writes:
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga Magetha ma njahi, The Big Harvest, 2012, 69 x 45
Peter Clarke (b. 1929) the acclaimed South African artist and poet will be exhibiting his work at the Stevenson Gallery. He lived in Simon’s Town until the Group Areas Act moved him to Ocean View where he has lived and worked since the late 1970s. He is best known for his paintings and prints of the daily life of Cape communities, yet in the last three decades he has also quietly produced hand-crafted concertina books. Just Paper and Glue presents this rarely exhibited aspect of Clarke’s life-long practice.
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Detail: Deborah Poynton, Picture 10, 2012, oil on canvas 230 x 200cm
Deborah Poynton (b.1970) presents her sixth solo show Pictures with the Stevenson Gallery. It comprises 12 large-scale figurative and landscape paintings, continuing her ongoing contemplation of the interplay between our perceptions of reality and of
The paintings I’ve done for this exhibition remind me of my favourite paintings and favourite tales. They are mannered. I have used a few well-worn formulas, a little romanticism, some classical poses, the drama of light and colour. In spite of this mildly distasteful posturing, I believe completely
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and passionately in my fictions, my pictures, and wish to touch and entrance you with them. I hope they are beautiful in spite of their beauty, so to speak.
This exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication on her paintings of the past few years. Poynton was born in Durban, and lives and works in Cape Town. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1987 to 1989 and has held five solo exhibitions at Stevenson, most recently Land of Cockaigne in Johannesburg (2012). She showed at the KZNSA Gallery, Durban, in 2010, and held her first United States solo exhibitions at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s galleries in Savannah and Atlanta in 2009. Group exhibitions include A Conversation with Bolus at the Michaelis Galleries, University of Cape Town (2011); Corvey Castle, near Höxter, Germany (2009); and New Painting at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban, Unisa Art Gallery in Pretoria and Johannesburg Art Gallery (2006).
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OUANSA REVISITED, GALLERY LISTROS August 22- October 24, 2013
Jo Ractlife Decommissioned military outpost, Schmidtsdrift (triptych) Elias Sime, Transport, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 75cm
and the Angolan army, FAPLA – a conflict later referred to in South Africa as the ‘Border War’. According to the artist: In connection with the 10th anniversary of Listros Association the Gallery Listros presents the exhibition Ouansa Revisited. The group exhibition includes the works of 17 contemporary artists from Ethiopia and Germany: Yero Adugna Eticha, Genet Alemu, Kerima Ahmed, Tesfu Assefa, Lupe Godoy, Desta Hagos, Kedir Keri, Christiane Latendorf, Engdaget Legesse, McLovla, Tedesse Mesfin, Hans Scheib, Elias Sime, Robel Temesgel, Tibebe Terfa, Tefery Teshome and Robert Weber. The exhibition, which opened on August 22, will feature paintings, drawings, graphics and photography, installations, films and video works. The artistic positions presented, explore the tension between art and society in their totality and show a multi-faceted and vivid image that honours the role and achievements of the working youth in Ethiopia–Listros (Young people in Ethiopia that show enormous self-initiative for a better future by taking jobs as shoe shiners). Furthermore, it presents a kaleidoscopic view of Ethiopia – a country full of contrasts, where tradition and modernity co-exist. In Ouansa Revisited, two generations of artists from two continents thematize “the self” and the other, “acceleration and slowness, spirituality and progress of a country in transition.” Elias Sime, for
JO RACTLIFFE, THE BORDERLANDS: AS TERRAS DO FIM DO MUNDO STEVENSON GALLERY: CAPE TOWN July 25-August 31, 2013
example, employs buttons in his work, and thereby achieves a special poetic expression. Engdaget Legesse’s installation reflects the complexity of space and time. In her works, Christiane Latendorf recounts history and stories, visions and revelations, encounters and secret links. The exhibition Ouansa Revisited continues an intercultural dialogue between artists in Germany and Ethiopia that Listros initiated with the 2008 Ouansa Project. Ouansa is the name of a tree growing in Ethiopia, and the project was based on the conviction that it needs an authentic experience so that art can become sustainable in social transformation processes. Therefore, the centrepiece of the project was a journey of six artists from Germany to Ethiopia. During a four-week art workshop in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, they met with 13 local artists for a continuous exchange of personal and artistic positions, concepts, techniques and ideas. The final exhibition of 101 paintings and sculptures was on display in the All School of Fine Arts and Design in Addis Ababa in 2008 and in Gallery Listros in 2009.
Cape town-born artist, Jo Ractliffe (b.1961) focuses on the aftermath of the Angolan war from the mid-1980s inspired by the book Another Day of Life, with Ryszard Kapuściński giving an account of events that led to Angola’s independence and subsequent civil war, which resonated strongly with what was happening in South Africa at the time: great political upheaval and mass mobilization against the apartheid government. The South African Defense Force (SADF) was entrenched in Angola, fighting against the exiled Namibian liberation movement, SWAPO,
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For most South Africans, Angola was perceived as a distant elsewhere – ‘the border’ – where brothers and boyfriends were sent as part of their military service. Now, over two decades since Namibia’s independence and the withdrawal of SADF troops from the region, the ‘Border War’ remains something with which much ignorance and shame – for some, even betrayal – are associated. During the making of As Terras do Fim do Mundo, I became curious about whether traces of the war could be found within South Africa’s borders. I was interested in exploring the idea of a militarized landscape. But rather than spaces connected with the usual apparatus of South Africa’s military, I wanted to search out sites that were intricately connected to that war.
The first of the three locations she photographs is Pomfret. Her first visit to the abandoned mining town of Pomfret was in 2002, during a photographic trip with David Goldblatt, who was then working on a project about asbestos. Located in the far north of South Africa near the Botswana border, Pomfret was not even on their maps. On arrival, they discovered that after the closure of the mine, Pomfret was converted into a military base and used to accommodate 32 Battalion, an elite Special Forces unit made up of white South African officers and black Angolan soldiers. While the unit was disbanded in 1993, most of the Angolan veterans remained there with their families, living in abject conditions and in a precarious relationship with local communities and the state. The second site is Kimberly where she covered Schmidtsdrift and Platfontein. Schmidtsdrift was originally occupied by Tswana-speaking Batlhaping and Griqua clans. From the 1950s through to the early 70s, various forms of forced removal were implemented and local communities were relocated to remote areas in the northern part of the country. In 1974, Schmidtsdrift was acquired by the SADF and used as a military training base. At the end of the war, members
of 31/201 Battalion, a Special Forces unit made up of Angolan and Namibian San trackers, who served in the SADF during the war, were relocated to Schmidtsdrift, with the intention of settling them permanently in the area. In 1992 however, the original communities lodged claims on this land, which were settled in 2002. After living in tents for 14 years, these San veterans were finally relocated to nearby Platfontein where they live today. The third location Riemvasmaak lies near the Orange River in the Northern Cape close to the Namibian border. In the early 1930s, permission was given for different communities to settle in the Riemvasmaak area; these included Xhosa speakers, people of Damara, Herero and Nama origin, and ‘coloured’ pastoralists. In the early 1970s however, the apartheid government began the forced removal of these communities. Those with Xhosa surnames were sent to the Transkei area in the Eastern Cape; those with Nama ancestry to Namibia, and others to the western Cape and Boland. The ‘emptied’ land was then used as a military testing site all through the 1980s when the war was being fought in Angola. In 1994, a process of land restitution was put in place, with returning families and communities first living in tents and then in houses built by the state. Most of the Riemvasmaakers are semi-nomadic subsistence farmers who hold the land communally. Ractliffe has held several exhibitions extensively in South Africa and internationally. Her series As Terras do Fim do Mundo has shown at the Walther Collection Project Space in New York; Fotohof in Salzburg, Austria; the Museet for Fotokunst in Odense, Denmark; and the 2011 Rencontres d’Arles photography festival where she was a nominee for the Discovery Prize. Selected images from Terreno Ocupado were shown at the seventh Gwangju Biennale, Korea. Recent group exhibitions include My Joburg at La Maison Rouge, Paris, and Present Tense at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, International Centre for Photography, New York, and Haus der Kunst, Munich; New Topography of War, Le Bal, Paris; and Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity, The Walther Collection in Ulm, Germany.
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WIZ KUDOWOR SHOWCASE AND BUREAU AFRICA August 18, 2013
Johannesburg, like many big cities, is often described as vibrant and chaotic. This is true for the most part, but Johannesburg has another life that exists outside of the clichés we project onto it. Sunday in the city is not a day of trade, industry or consumption. Nor is it a day for business. As a result, it is a space in which the character of Johannesburg can inscribe itself. Johannesburg is a city that works and sleeps, and on Sundays it does as it will …
Showcase and Bureau Africa have now released the film interview with Wiz Kudowor on This is Africa, the first interview in a series of film interviews with prominent Ghanaian contemporary visual artists under the title, The Black Stars of Ghana - Art District. Wisdom “Wiz” Kudowor is one of Ghana’s leading contemporary visual artists. Despite the traces of modernism in his paintings with Cubist and Futurist designs and shapes, Wiz Kudowor’s work simultaneously rejuvenates the traditional forms and aesthetics of Ghana’s cultural history. He uses ancient symbols and aesthetic elements derived from Ghana’s rich culture as an artistic tool to highlight space and structure, and colourful configurations on his canvasses. Kudowor works largely with a foam roller and palette knife. He has been described as a “ transcultural visionary” because of his colourful and intense paintings, which combine styles, themes and expressive patterns from different cultural backgrounds. In this short film interview, Wiz Kudowor offers insight into his work and talks about his career as an artist, his experiences with the art scene both home and abroad, and about his life in general. In its video interview project, Showcase will present episodes with different contemporary visual artists from Ghana, the first stop on a tour across the African continent. A new episode will be broadcast every Monday. After the Wiz Kudowor interview, the season will continue with an episode about Ghanian contemporary painter Prof. Ablade Glover, an important mentor and patron for the younger generation of Ghanaian artists. He is the founder of Artist Alliance, a gallery and space, which he founded as a young lecturer in the 1960s. All episodes of The Black Stars of Ghana - Art District will simultaneously broadcast on This is Africa, and on Bureau Africa TV’s
SIMON GUSH WORK STEVENSON GALLERY: CAPE TOWN July 25– August 31, 2013
After the Work Stopped is a series of six static video portraits of work sites after-hours. The portraits are all filmed around City Deep, an industrial area located adjacent to the central business district. The videos capture the atmosphere of these deserted sites. Using a series of customized mirrors and filters, the headlights of cars passing unseen behind the camera are reflected back into the lens. The result is a choreographed movement of light that erases the image. One video was shown each day of the working week. Patched Form I, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 120x120cm
YouTube Channel. Kudowor was born in 1957 in Takoradi, the fourth largest city in Ghana, and studied art at the College of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. He graduated in 1981 with a first class honours degree in fine arts. He now lives and works in Accra, Ghana. Wiz Kudowor has exhibited extensively for almost 30 years in Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States. His works are held in prominent public and private collections like the Ghana National Museum, the Ministry of Culture in the People’s Republic of China, the Osaka Prefecture Contemporary Art Collection in Japan and the African-American Museum in Dallas, Texas, United States.
avoided small talk for most of the flight, the person next to me will try to strike up a conversation as the plane starts its descent: “So, what do you do?” “I’m an artist.” “Really? And what do you do to make money?”
Simon Gush (b.1981) interrogates the central role played by work in the construction and perception of our identities. According to the artist:
The exhibition Work brings into focus prevailing perceptions of work, including the ideological dimension, which maintains that ‘work’ is morally ‘good’. Central to the exhibition is the video Sunday Light, which looks at the Johannesburg city centre as a site that is defined by the workday, and explores Sunday as a day of non-work. An excerpt from the script states:
As it happens, I do have a job, like many artists, and make art in my spare time. This exhibition was entirely produced after and in-between work hours. This effectively means that I am an amateur artist. But despite the necessary role of work in my life, I locate my identity outside of my job, in my art. This arrangement is something that I think offers an interesting opportunity, not because I appreciate the value of an honest day’s work, but because it allows me to view my art as the productive labour of non-work – as an alternative to work.
As part of the exhibition, on June 27, Bettina Malcomess hosted a series of interviews around work, labour and free time, which the public was invited to attend.
Simon Gush, Sunday Light
Simon Gush is a 2011 Fellow at the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts, University of Cape Town, and completed postgraduate studies at the Hoger Instituut van Schone Kunsten in Ghent, Belgium, in 2008. He has held exhibitions in South Africa and internationally, including the Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Galerie West in the Hague, the Netherlands, and SMAK in Ghent, Belgium, in 2010. He has held exhibitions with other outstanding artists including My Joburg at La Maison Rouge, Halakasha at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, the 2009 Luleå Summer Biennial, Sweden, and .za: Giovane arte dal Sudafrica at Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena in 2008.
GONÇALO MABUNDA, WHEN I GET GREEN JACK BELL GALLERY, LONDON, July 12-August 10, 2013 Jack Bell Gallery presented an exhibition, When I Get Green of work by Mozambican born artist Gonçalo Mabunda (b. 1975), his second solo show with the gallery. Mabunda is interested in the collective memory of his country, Mozambique, which has only recently emerged from a long and terrible civil war.
Patched Form I, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 120x120cm
In his sculpture, he gives anthropomorphic forms to AK47s, rocket launchers, pistols and other objects of destruction recovered in 1992 at the end of the sixteen-year conflict that divided the region. The deactivated weapons of war carry strong political connotations, yet the beautiful objects he creates also convey a positive reflection on the transformative power of art and the resilience and creativity of African civilian societies. Mabunda is most well known for his thrones. According to the artist, the thrones function as attributes of power, tribal symbols and traditional pieces of ethnic African art. They are without a doubt, an ironic way of commenting on his childhood experience of violence and absurdity and the civil war in Mozambique that isolated his country for a long period. His masks could also be said to draw on a local history of traditional African art. Overall, Mabunda’s work takes on a striking modernist edge akin to imagery by Braque and Picasso.
Gonçalo Mabunda: When I Get Green, Installation view
Mabunda trained in Mozambique and South Africa and has been working as a full-time artist since 1997. His work has been exhibited at Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, Hayward Gallery, London, Pompidou, Paris, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, Museum of Art and Design, New York and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, UK, among others.
It is a conversation that often happens in airplanes. After I’ve
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RAOUL DA SILVA INNER WORLDS, OUTER SPACE THE WHEATBAKER June 8 – September 15, 2013
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When I start a piece of work, I mark the canvas in a somewhat unpremeditated way. Sometimes I use natural markings that are already present. These marks are orientation points from which I start my quest of creating the right tension, balance, imbalance, and rhythm. This changes constantly while I work, as I incorporate seemingly random movements, which are however very controlled.
These words best describe the unpredictability of Raoul Olawole da Silva’s creative output. An artist of mixed-parentage, his father a Brazilian-Nigerian being married to a Swiss woman. Having spent some years working in his studio in Switzerland, da Silva has returned with a remarkable collection of art works for his Lagos audience Raoul da Silva, Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 180 x170cm
The curator of the exhibition and film maker, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago describes Raoul as “An artist with a deep history, multilayered perspective, and a wonderful, … sensibility.” It is a welcome development for artists in diaspora to have recourse to their home-country. It is even more stimulating when they bring forth a new visual expression which amalgamates their experiences of home and abroad to enrich the practice locally, while adding to global contemporary art discourse. Da Silva has succeeded in this area, as he guides us into his inner recess of tangled experiences relived first on sizeable papers, as in his older works and subsequently manifested expansively on his later canvases. Early enough, da Silva was exposed to the world of art right from home as his parents kept a profound art collection. His summer art classes at the Nigerian National Museum in Onikan and later, his contact with works by renowned artist Bruce Onobrakpeya whose studio he visited, served to develop his artistic consciousness. He would later complete his study of art at the School of Applied Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland. The works on paper are impulsive. They are rendered in subtle colors ranging from light coffee, faint grey, purple to faded red. They are not to be appreciated for the scant visual recognition they attract. Yet, the viewer’s awareness is sustained by the predominant earthy ambience weaved from these colours often associated with Africa. The delicacy of application here betrays a tutored Western appeal and makes for a balance, which Professor Nikolaus Wyss, former director, Lucerne School of Design attempts to describe
PHOTOGRAPHY ISSUE II
as “breaking” “open the African aesthetic to the benefit of a more global approach;” and joining “the Swiss and African roots to a strong, joyful mixture.” In contrast, da Silva’s recent canvases engage more recognizable elements, possibly drawn from movie clips, skating adventures, childhood eccentricities, mixed-moments of happiness and frustrations, expectations and dashed hopes. Such images include; “… almost camouflaged human forms and faces, telephones dangling on black wires, a lone gas mask or a white bone” as Obiago suggests. These elements in themselves, do not tell a complete story, but are best accepted as components of deeper meanings, experiences and contemplations of the artist to be shared and enjoyed from a considerable distance. In all, the artist’s inviting body of work offers no titles, but consistently permits the viewers to relate to each work in a personal and individual way. Perhaps, in this instance, as it is with other idiosyncratic tendencies of the artist, Jess Castellote, an architect and art critic, has explained Raoul da Silva as “a complex and intensely independent artist. His is a multifaceted creativity finding expression through different media: painting, photography, craftsmanship, music; should I add skateboarding, an activity he considers a true –though ephemeral- form of art? While some of his older works brought to mind references to Osogbo artists (especially, Twins Seven Seven), or to Pollock, the recent ones are more akin to the explorations of Basquiat, Bacon or Ritcher.”
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CEDRIC NUNN CALL AND RESPONSE From September 14 to October 3, 2013, the Omenka Gallery presented Call and Response, an exhibition of a series of photographs begun in the late 1970s by internationally celebrated South African artist, Cedric Nunn. The photographs presented centre on South Africaâ€™s recent social and political history and are a personal commentary on societal ills and poor living conditions of blacks in Johannesburg. The exhibition has travelled to several major countries on 3 continents including Germany, United States, Mozambique and South Africa. Nigeria shares a similar history with South Africa, having witnessed a civil war from 1967 to 1970, that claimed an estimated 3 million lives, mostly from hunger and disease. Today, the effects of the war are still being felt along economic, ethnic, cultural and religious lines. Call and Response thus serves an extended purpose to inspire forthcoming generations to respond to a call to transform their societies through genuine reconciliation, tolerance and exemplary leadership.
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When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. John Ruskinv
VISUAL TIME: THE IMAGE IN HISTORY By Keith Moxey moment of their creation they still have the power to affect the present. Approaching works of art as capable of creating their own time, anachronic or aesthetic time, insists on the role of the historical horizon in which their reception takes place. Integral to this argument is the idea of translation–the means by which temporalties interact with each other. It also provides a common, though inadequate metaphor for the transformation of what we see into what we are.
A FANTASTIC JOURNEY By Wangechi Mutu
The first part of the book consists of three chapters and concentrates on the issue of time. The first chapter, “Is Modernity Multiple?” asks if it is possible to escape the shadow of the ideological forces responsible for artistic modernism.
This 176-page richly illustrated full-color catalog accompanies the first major solo museum exhibition and most comprehensive survey of Wangechi Mutu’s work on view at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University through July 21, 2013, before traveling to the Brooklyn Museum.
The second, “Contemporary’s Heterochronicity” is an extension of the discussion of periodization started from chapter one by reviewing the current debate on the nature of contemporary art in the context of a postcolonial awareness of time’s heterochronicity.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1972, and now based in Brooklyn, Mutu renders the complex global sensibility of the early twenty-first century through a distinctly hybrid aesthetic. She combines found materials and magazine cut-outs with sculpture and painted imagery and samples from sources and phenomena as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry, and science fiction. In her work, Mutu marries poetic symbolism with sociopolitical critique to explore issues of gender, race, war, colonialism, and, particularly, the exoticization of the black female body.
The third chapter asks the question “Do we still need Renaissance?” and examines the periodizing strategies of the history of art and its chronological structure, in order to discuss their inherent historical value.
Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey highlights the most important and iconic works that Mutu has created since the mid-1990s, and portrays new collages, drawings, videos, and site-specific installations. The catalog also offers an intimate look into her sketchbooks and includes an interview with the artist conducted by the exhibition’s curator, Trevor Schoonmaker. Essays by Schoonmaker, art historian, Kristine Stiles, and the critic, musician, and producer, Greg Tate, are also featured.
The second part of the book comprises of the last four chapters and centres on history. The fourth chapter, “Visual Studies and the Iconic Turn” serves as an introduction to the disagreement between two different ways of understanding an image. A predominantly Anglo-American tradition approaches an image as cultural product filled with significance that needs to be deciphered, while other perspectives originating in the English, French, and German speaking worlds view it as an agent that provokes meaningful responses in its viewers.
TEN FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF CURATING Edited by Jens Hoffmann Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating is a 148-page book that emerged from a need to trace the coordinates of contemporary curatorial practice and to take stock of a profession that is constantly evolving. The book originates from a series of 10 commissioned essays for Mousse magazine from ten curators examining ten fundamental curatorial themes written over a period of two years, in 2011 to 2012. It is edited by Jens Hoffmann, with a preface by Milovan Farronato, Director of the Fiorucci Art Trust which co-produced the publication. Some of the key questions addressed include “What is Art”, “What is the Public”, “What is an Exhibition” and “What to do with the Contemporary”. The booklets are structured as hypothetical chapters that once completed, through the reflections of some of the leading figures in the contemporary scene, will try to offer an answer to the question of “What it means to be a curator today.” www.moussemagazine.it
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Visual Time: The Image in History is a 224-page beautifully illustrated book published by Duke University Press that outlines two major arguments addressing the image in time as well as the time of the image–the temporal constructs erected to account for the history of visual objects and their inherent temporal potential. The book is divided into two segments and addresses the questions posed by these two issues for the history of art. The history of art has spent much of its time in an effort to supply order to the chronological location of the objects it calls its own. In its efforts to contain or tame them, and thus render them more susceptible to attributed meaning, works of art are inevitably assigned a sequential location within a teleological system. One argument posits that historical time is not universal but heterochronic, that time does not move at the same speed in different places. The history of art faces the disconcerting possibility that the time it imagines, history’s very architecture, is neither uniform nor linear but rather multivalent and discontinuous. The other argument depends on the anachronism involved in the experience of works of art, the awareness that regardless of the
“Bruegel’s Crows” is the fifth chapter and talks about the nature of the ontological presence of the image in reference to the ability of the textual to do it justice. The sixth chapter, “Mimesis and Iconoclasm,” focuses on the magical power of authenticity, its apparent capacity to out-run time in order to maintain its fascination for widely differing historical moments. Moxley argues further that imitation is actually a creative process intended to persuade viewers that works of art correspond with our perception and encourages us using Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors as an illustration. Finally, “Impossible Distance,” closes the book with a review of twentieth century historiography on Albrecht Dürer and Matthias Grünewald and examines the means by which these scholars have both created and canceled the historical interval that separated the past from present. The chapter ends by asking if this cordon sanitaire employed as a constraint can be conciliated with the power of the image to provoke its own response. www.scribed.com
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FNB JOBURG ART FAIR
in and around Johannesburg of structures that are places of worship with recent photographs of public art installed by the new government.
WORDS BY SILVIA PILLON
Nandipha Mntambo is one of the new young South African artists to break on to the international scene and has recently had her first solo show in Europe at the AndréhnSchiptjenko Gallery, Stockholm. At the FNB Joburg Art Fair, Mntambo will be presenting her new photographic series ...Everyone Carries a Shadow. The show is supported by Pirelli, which has been a Special Project sponsor for the past four years. The series is based on the Paso Doble, a dance that has its roots in the sport of bullfighting. As an extension of her previous video work Paso Doble 2011, this series of seven photographs will focus on dance and the movement of bodies.
Mouhamadou Sow, Phantasms of the Non-City (from the Lagos Photo Festival)
Founded in 2008 by Ross Douglas, the FNB Joburg Art Fair is the only international art fair on the African continent and the first art fair to focus on contemporary art from Africa. The 6th edition of the event takes place from September 27-29, 2013 at the Sandton Convention Centre, the heart of Johannesburg’s business district. Artlogic, the South-African company running the fair, has been working hard to broaden the international reach of the event, while ensuring that the focus stays African. This year, the FNB Joburg Art Fair will see more galleries from Africa and Europe participating, with seven non-SA countries represented: England, France, Germany, Spain, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Thirty-two galleries have confirmed their presence, eleven of which are new to the event. The fair is curated to give the 10,000 visitors the best possible opportunity to experience African contemporary art in all its
forms. Unlike most art fairs that rely heavily on galleries for the show, Artlogic has developed a hybrid approach, where the 5,000 square meter-fair is shared by commercial galleries and the Special Projects Programme. The fair curator works with galleries, artists, sponsors and the technical team to produce a selection of noncommercial museum quality shows that make up the Special Projects Programme. These are some of the highlights visitors to the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair can expect. Internationally acclaimed South African photographer David Goldblatt, recently recognized with an Infinity Lifetime Achievement Award at the age of 82 by the International Centre for Photography (ICP) in New York, will present the series The Structure of Things Then - and After. The exhibition will combine a collection of photographs taken during and after Apartheid to show Goldblatt’s concern that whilst apartheid has ended, some facets of South African life have not changed. Goldblatt will combine images taken from the 1960s
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Santu Mofokeng is one of the four artists chosen for the German Pavillion at this year’s Venice Biennale and will present The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890–1950 at this year’s fair. The project seeks to create an archive of the images that black workingand middle-class families commissioned photographic studios to take during the period 1890 to 1950, and the stories about the subjects in the photographs. CIRCA Gallery will have a solo show of photographer Roger Ballen’s work. Images will be selected from past series going 30 years back including Outland, Boarding House, Shadow Chamber, Dorps and Platteland. In addition to this, Ballen and Die Antwoord will be at the fair for a book signing of I Fink U Freeky, recently published by Random House Prestel. Artlogic has partnered with Lagos Photo Festival to present the exhibition Phantasms of the Non-City, a selection of photographs from the 2013 edition of Lagos Photo Festival. The show examines the development of urban centres in Africa and how the technical advancement of photography has transformed our sense of place in a globally connected world. This will hopefully be the start of further collaborations between Johannesburg and Lagos. The presence of Lagos as a new contemporary art city is reinforced by the Africa launch of Phaidon’s Art Cities of the Future
Roger Ballen, Elias coming out from under John’s Bed, 1999, archival pigment prints, 400x 40cm
at the fair. In association with the launch, Artlogic will host a round table around the topic What unites or separates the art cities of the future?
The video installation will be shown at LOOP 2014 in Barcelona with the support of the Spanish government and in the frame of the partnership Artlogic has initiated with LOOP.
As the African biennial of photography, Bamako Encounters is not taking place this year because of the conflict in Mali, Artlogic has partnered with the French Institute to host the exhibition African Emerging Photography. The show, curated by Michket Krifa and Laura Serani, artistic directors of the 8th and 9th Bamako Encounters, is a collection of the work of a new generation of African photographers.
Each edition of the FNB Joburg Art Fair has a dedicated Talk’s Programme. This year, the fair will host a collectors forum around the topic Collecting Contemporary Art from Africa. The forum is organized in partnership with the Goethe Institut and The University of Johannesburg.
Artlogic has partnered Samsung with Soweto-born Mohau Modisakeng who participated in 2012 in the show Out of Focus at Saatchi Gallery, London. The video work Modisakeng has conceived for the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair will be a continuation of an earlier work titled First Rehearsal and investigates the relationship between violence and spectatorship. One of the signature qualities of Modisakeng’s photographic work is the highly tactile, textured quality of the images. The artist intends to extend this into the video work by filming in 4K resolution on a Red EPIC series camera. The work will be presented on the new UHD 85 inch Samsung TV.
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A recent addition to the fair is the FNB Art Prize. The 3rd edition of the prestigious award with prize money of R100,000.00 goes to the video installation Uncles & Angels, a collaboration between South African artist Mocke J Van Veuren and South African performer and choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba. The installation is based on the performance of the same name, which has been staged in South Africa and Europe as an interactive dance and video collaboration between Xaba and van Veuren for the past two years. The central allusion within the piece is the Reed Dance – well known in Southern Africa as a colourful, cultural celebration that is meant to promote respect for young women and preserve the custom of girls remaining virgins until marriage.
FOOLS EYE: INNOCENT PHOTOGRAPHS ERIN HANEY’S TAKE ON THE BEGINNINGS OF AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHY! WORDS ERIN HAINEY
Uche James-Iroha, Fire, Flesh and Blood series, 2004
Depth of Field, Black Box, and Invisible Borders of Lagos, Generation Elili of Lubumbashi, Under the Table Pan-African Collective, Maputo: all are vibrant collectives of young photographers who have gained international acclaim in recent years. Underpinnning each gathering is a bright optimism and a sense of urgency, mobilizing to increase the profile of contemporary art in their cities and further afield. It is impossible to resist keeping an eye on these photographers and their newest projects. Photographers based on the African continent (and those who have
elected a migratory existence) have come into unprecedented public recognition over the past fifteen years. This is particularly true in Europe, and to a lesser extent in North America. One prime motivation of this global interest is the rise of the African biennial of photography Mali, Bamako. Other arts festivals featuring the art of contemporary photographers include Dak’art, the Johannesburg Biennial, and the strong run of publications and exhibitions by the erstwhile Paris-based publisher, Revue Noire. Exhibitions in Africa, Europe, the United States,
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and the expanding biennial circuit now feature significant and promising work by young artists. Crucially, these events enliven the debate and allow for new kinds of networking for artists on the continent. All of these garner increasing attention and creates novel markets, both for the works by established photographers as well as for the newer generations.
We can recall that strong photographic traditions from West Africa are nothing new. Names of long established photographers such as Don Barber, Tam Fiofori, Jide AdeniyiJones and Akinbode Akinbiyi, all of whom have worked as photographers and teachers in Nigeria, loom large among younger photographers in Nigeria. What may surprise readers is the extent to which West African photographers crucially shaped the medium from quite early on, possibly even from the 1850s. The first African photographers along the coast moved between Saint-Louis and Freetown, down through Cape Coast and Accra, Lagos, Douala, Fernando Po (presentday Bioko, Equatorial Guinea) and down to Luanda. Other migrations of photographers emerged along the east African coast, looped southern African towns inland, and the Indian Ocean islands such as Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Seychelles. Egypt and Ethiopia too, hold rich histories of early photographic innovation. By the 1890s, Lagos was exporting a number of photographers: Hezekiah Andrew Shanu opened a store and studio in Boma, and played an important role providing photographic evidence of the violence suffered under King Leopold’s regime in the Congo Free State. The father/son duo of N. Walwin and J.A.C. Holm ran studios in Lagos and Accra in the 1890s, documenting significant political moments in Nigeria and concurrently offering refined studio settings to local patrons. Around this time, J.A.Green worked extensively through out Bonny and Opobo, and his images remain in a number of archives and colonial-era family collections. The Lagosian, D. Olawale Labinjo also took to the seas, operating in Lagos and Cameroon, if not even further afield. S.O Alonge was the court photographer to the Kingdom of Benin for nearly forty years, beginning in the 1920s.
George Osodi, Argungu, 2008
A clear account of this early creative practice is yet to be written, yet all indications point to an early appreciation of the power of a photograph. Not least among these, a photograph’s formal qualities are lovely, evocative, and transformative. They offer a window into another time and location. All at once, a portrait records personal achievement and is an honorific gesture and memorial. A political event unleashes the complexities of the political and social setting, visually crafted not only by a photographer, but by all of the people captured in an images’ frame.
A great photograph reveals its gifts in layers, demanding the eye to move beyond its surface, inviting inspection of texture, colour, depth and the juxtaposition of elements. Framing his or her subject, any photographer’s greatest challenge is a stealthy visual puzzle which only reveals itself to a careful and thinking viewer. The artist’s choices are, to be sure, as conceptually loaded as they are technically refined. For a year’s worth of constant work, maybe ten or fifteen images emerge as worthwhile for developing a satisfying internal coherence and visual narrative, according to Akinbode Akinbiyi. Add to that, the constraints of using digital cameras, software and suites in which to create
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photographs, particularly large-format prints and works which rely on high-quality, costly, and climate-sensitive materials. The investment in making a quality photograph in Africa is all the more astonishing and a leap of faith. For all of these reasons, photographs seen in museums and galleries are often produced as series, ensuring the scarcity and the value of the image. Usually, only a small number of any print are produced, the series limited as part of the creative decisions of the artist, much in the same way a printmaker creates a small number of prints struck from an etched surface. While the infrastructure for creating an archival quality print is still emerging, we hope it will soon catch up with market demands. The best news for aficionados of contemporary arts in Nigeria, its visitors, and indeed any collector considering adding photography to their collection is that they are spoiled for choice. Among names to watch locally are Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Uche James-Iroha, Amaize Ojeikere, Zaynab Odunsi, T.Y. Bello, Emeka Okereke, George Osodi, Andrew Esiebo, Abraham Onoriode Oghobase, James Okpa-Iroha, Lucy Azubuike, Unoma Giese, Ray Daniels Okeugo, Frid Armel Louzala, Sammy Baloji, Baudouin Mouanda, Ananías Léki Dago and Harandane Dicko; see also afriqueinvisu.org, www.afriphoto.com and www.fotoafrica.org.
LAGOSPHOTO FESTIVAL WORDS JOSEPH GERGEL,
photography fair in Nigeria. In a month– long festival, events include exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations, discussions, screenings, and large scale outdoor prints displayed throughout the city with the aim of reclaiming public spaces with multifaceted stories of Africa. LagosPhoto aims to establish a community for contemporary photography, which will unite local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across Africa. The festival presents and educates about photography as it embodies the exploration of historical and contemporary issues, sharing of cultural practices, and the promotion of social programmes. Each year, LagosPhoto opens with a thematic exhibition that explores social and political issues relevant to Nigeria and the broader African continent. With the inclusion of thirty to forty local and international photographers, the festival extends to simultaneous satellite venues in arts and cultural institutions around the city of Lagos. An integral core is the outdoor exhibitions in congested public spaces, which engage the general public that might not have the opportunity to visit the official exhibitions. From inception, LagosPhoto aims to counter the negative stereotypes that have dominated popular imagery of Africa, including poverty, crime, war, famine, and generalised chaos. The festival aspires to show a more nuanced and well-rounded perspective of the rich diversity of culture and contradictions of socio-economic development in rapidly changing cities such as Lagos. LagosPhoto does not limit the artist selection to “African” artists that are defined through geographic origin but extends to international photographers that work extensively on the continent. This allows for a healthy dialogue between local and international artists–an aspect that separates itself from other photography festivals in Africa.
Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Family, 2012
The economic hub of Nigeria, the city of Lagos is also the country’s artistic epicentre. Over the last decade, there has been an explosion in the contemporary arts community in Nigeria, with a roster of cultural foundations, galleries, and public programming initiatives that are contributing to a burgeoning arts infrastructure and giving voice to emerging modes of artistic expression. The annual LagosPhoto Festival is one such project that has created a vibrant community for African photography and educational opportunities that enable
the development of the next generation of photographic talent on the continent. As the medium of photography is inherently accessible to a wide audience, LagosPhoto serves as an example for how art and life can merge into a cohesive unit, how public spaces can be used to engage audiences, and how a small non-profit initiative can transform into a large-scale sustainable platform. Launched in 2010, LagosPhoto is the first and only international
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In 2010, LagosPhoto was inaugurated with the theme No Judgement: Africa Under the Prism, generating over a thousand people in attendance on the opening night. The 2011 edition What’s Next Africa?: The Hidden Stories, featured forty-two local and international photographers and events that included an amateur photography competition, a creative design fair, a family day and picnic, and photographic
development workshops for young children. LagosPhoto 2012, which included twentynine international and local photographers, captured the energy and vibrance that make the city of Lagos such a unique cultural environment. Photographers were nominated to document aspects of the life in the city with an extended photographic project under the theme Seven Days in the Life of Lagos, with topics including religion, architecture, culture, nightlife, economy, music, lifestyle, sports, government, and infrastructure, among others. With artistic direction by world renowned photojournalist Stanley Greene, the festival extended its scope throughout the city of Lagos with seven simultaneous satellite exhibitions. An exhibition of photographs that documented the ongoing demolition of Makoko inaugurated the newly created LagosPhoto Projects series, where a group of photographers and journalists intervene in public spaces to reveal stories of the changing social landscape in Nigeria. Anton Cobijn’s photographs of Fela Kuti in Paris in the early 1980s were exhibited at the Nimbus Gallery. An installation of the Nigerian Nostalgia Project, an online digital archive of collected photographs and various ephemera depicting scenes of people in Nigeria between 1960-1980, unfolded in an interactive presentation at A White Space. Goethe-Institut Nigeria partnered with LagosPhoto to present an installation entitled Black Light at the Federal Printing Press in Lagos Island. Black Light is based on the work of renowned war photographer Wolf Böwig’s report on West African civil wars, and includes ﬁfteen graphic artists from around the world in a combination of photographs, literary texts, and graphic novels. Outdoor venues included the University of Lagos, Falomo Roundabout, and Ojota Freedom Park. This year’s edition of LagosPhoto, opening October 25, 2013, represents two dominant modes of photographic expression under the theme The Megacity and the NonCity; that of the documentary tradition and the expanded realm of image-based practices incorporating conceptual and new media strategies. The Megacity and the Non-City looks at both the development of urban centres in Africa and the influences of technology, the internet, and the digital revolution, and how they
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have transformed photography and our sense of place in a globally connected world. While these two domains of photography are at once complimentary, they also speak to very different readings and functions of photography. As The Megacity presents a photojournalistic perspective that documents that fast pace of change occurring in Africa today, The Non-City extends LagosPhoto’s focus to account for artistic practices that examine the mass circulation of images and the politics of representation. As Lagos is the second largest growing city in Africa, in many ways it represents the future megapolis of the urban imagination. With photographers examining issues including population explosion, urban development, socio-economic gaps, the rising middleclass, environmental changes, and the cultural diversity of the African continent, The Megacity looks to urban centres in Africa in transition, quickly adapting to vast changes taking place at an unprecedented speed, and the contradictions, grey areas, and sites of dispute. The Non-City signiﬁes the representation of a future urban environment brought about by sweeping technological changes that have surpassed the speciﬁcities of local and national identity, examining how the medium of photography has influenced our relationship to an expanded sense of place outside of our immediate geographic environment. The concept of the Non-City suggests a connectivity through technology and the digital revolution that works on a global paradigm, no longer tied to the space/time perimeters of the individual in a speciﬁc urban environment, but rather one that is deﬁned in terms of the internet, social networking, and virtual connectivity. The Non-City suggests displacement, ﬁction, fantasy, and an unstable and ﬂuid sense of identity, all traits that work in opposition to the traditional tenants of photojournalism and its quest for “truth” ﬁrmly grounded in an a priori reality. The Non-City will include artists who work in the expanded ﬁeld of image-based practices, including collage, photo-manipulation, appropriation strategies, video, installation, and digital processes, with a focus on how images circulate in our culture as a product of mass consumption and as a barometer to construct personal
Outdoor exhibitions took place throughout the city of Lagos, with the aim of reclaiming public spaces and engaging the general public Lagos Photo 2012
and collective world views. A new partnership with World Press Photo, a pre-eminent international competition and exhibition that showcases the best of photojournalism worldwide, will bring its annual exhibition to Lagos alongside the festival. Founded in 1955, World Press Photo has cemented itself as the leading international contest of visual journalism internationally. The World Press Photo exhibition reaches an audience of over two million people and travels to over forty-five countries annually. LagosPhoto has signed a threeyear contract to bring the World Press Photo exhibition to be shown alongside the festival over the next three editions of LagosPhoto. By adding World Press Photo to our annual festival programme, LagosPhoto extends its exploration of African photography to account for the global discourse of photojournalism and current events worldwide.
the multifarious aspects of book design. World renowned photography book designer Teun van der Heijden will come to Lagos to lead a master class, where he will speak about his past experiences and work with Nigerian artists on the execution of their own projects. Teun is best known for designing the World Press Photo publications, Stanley Green’s Black Passport, and Kadir van Lohuizen’s Diamond Matters. World renowned photographer Martin Parr will travel to Lagos to attend the festival this year, where he will share his expertise and experience in photography. An exhibition of covers from ZAM Magazine, a leading arts magazine that focuses on African photography, will unfold in an exhibition at a satellite venues in Lagos. Through the FOTObook project, LagosPhoto aims to encourage artists to think about the book form as a medium and explore the ways in which it can inform their practice and the reception of their work.
This year, LagosPhoto will also begin a new programme called FOTObook, an international exchange programme between art book designers and Nigerian artists that allows for an intensive study into the specialised domain of art book design and publication. As part of the exchange, specialists in photo-book design in the Netherlands will travel to Lagos to facilitate master workshops on
The 2013 edition of LagosPhoto also introduced the LagosPhoto Summer School programme, where emerging Nigerian photographers are offered scholarships to attend prestigious photography schools abroad. The first programme took place in June 2013 at the Neue Schule in Berlin, where photographers Aderemi Adegbite, Jeneieve Aken, and Adeola Olagunju took part in photography courses and worked
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on an extended photographic project. As part of a reciprocal exchange programme, LagosPhoto will welcome three German photography students to Lagos in September for a month to photograph the city. A new partnership with the Spéos Photography Institute in Paris, France, will also offer two Nigerian photographers a scholarship to attend their workshops in the near future. In an additional collaboration, LagosPhoto has partnered with POPCAP to bring its exhibition to LagosPhoto this year. POPCAP is an annual competition and exhibition for contemporary African photography, with a renowned international jury which selected five winners. The exhibition was first shown in June during the Art Basel Art Fair festivities, widely considered the most important art fair in the world. The exhibition will travel to the PhotoIreland Festival before coming to Lagos in October. In the four years since LagosPhoto began, the festival has grown to an unprecedented scale and has created a tight-knit community of photographers and artists alike. While the festival may have started as a small-scale project, it has developed into a foundation in its own right, with plans to create a year-around centre for photography in the near future. As Nigeria takes a giant leap forward in becoming an international centre for contemporary art, LagosPhoto is destined to play an integral part.
PEER CONVERSATION JOOST BOSLAND AND BOMI ODUFUNADE As modern and contemporary art from the continent continues its phenomenal rise, our London editor, Bomi Odufunade and Joost Bosland, a director at Stevenson, a leading contemporary art gallery based in South Africa, chat about recent developments and collcting African art.
JB: We have known each other for just over a year now, and a lot has happened in our field since we first spoke... Attention for modern and contemporary African art has grown, institutionally, in the market, and perhaps most noticeably in the press. Still, a lot of that is happening in museums and galleries in London, Paris and New York. If I am based on the continent, and have decided I want to start collecting art, how would you suggest I start? BO: I always suggest starting with what you like and what you know, which usually means looking at artists ‘close to home’. Most collectors always start collecting and buying works domestically. If you are Beninese or live in Benin then you are more likely to first purchase works by Beninese artists before looking at say, Kenyan artists. Determine if there are any artists that interest you and immerse yourself in the local art scene by visiting galleries, visual art spaces and artist’s studios. For example, South Africa has a dynamic art scene with art schools, museums, galleries, auction houses and even an art fair, which makes it easier for a budding collector to be able to navigate and experience art. Not all the countries on the continent have this luxury. This is where the internet comes in very handy. Technology today has made it easier to locate galleries and research artists and their work. For example, if you see an artist’s work in a publication
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Robin Rhode, A Spanner in the Works of Infinity, 2012/2013, 9 framed c-prints, 41.6 x 61.6 x 3.8cm each
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The process of finding new artists we are excited about is an organic one. Everyone on the curatorial team at the gallery is always looking, seeing shows, reading publications, visiting the art schools. When something strikes us, we send around images and links to our colleagues, and have an internal debate about the merits of the work. If we are curious enough, we’ll start a dialogue with an artist about their practice. If we sense a connection, or potential, we might incorporate the artist in a group show, or a specific project, to test the waters. It is not unlike a romantic involvement that goes from a little flirting to a first date to an engagement to a marriage. Both parties need to make sure the other is ‘the one’.
Serge Alain Nitegeka, Fragiile Cargo IV: Studio Study IV, Piant on Wood 171 x 180cm x 11cm
or on TV, you can now easily use Google, to locate his or her gallery, or find their website. Establish a yearly budget and set yourself a price limit on works, just because you have the money, it does not mean you spend it all. This can be a creative way of diversifying and building a collection from looking at different mediums of photography, painting, sculpture, prints, and new media at varying prices to acquiring works by emerging talent as well as established artists. BO: There is a growing and vibrant artistic community working and living on the continent. What does a gallery like Stevenson look for when deciding to represent an artist? How do you establish which artists would work within a gallery programme? JB: Ultimately, who we represent is a highly personal decision. When we start working with an artist, it is the beginning of a long-
term, mutually beneficial relationship. We help the artists build up their career in a way that enables them to realize their creative aspirations. Because we are in it for the long run, we are very careful about decisions about representation. First, the work needs to excite us–the artist needs to be developing a language that is entirely new to us, and has an inner logic and integrity that enables it to grow over time. Second, it is important that the artist is somebody we want to work with. If the art is amazing, but there is no solid personal connection, it is very hard to work towards a common goal. Many of the artists we work with make work that, on the one hand, could be made anywhere in the world, and partakes in international debates about contemporary art practice. On the other hand, the work is usually firmly rooted in our time and place. We are a gallery from South Africa, and most of the artists we work with are from the continent, one way or another.
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JB: You must have similar processes in place at your firm. How do you find the artists you decide to educate your clients about? Who is someone you have recently ‘discovered’, and how did you come to their work? For me personally, travelling is key, as my primary role is sourcing and acquiring work by artists from across all 55 countries on the continent as well as the diaspora. There is so much happening on the continent at the moment that I am constantly ‘discovering” exciting and enthralling talent from festivals such LagosPhoto and Addis Photo Fest to last year’s Biennale Regard Benin to the recent international art exhibition in Rwanda, currently showing the captivating sculptures of Rwandan Médard Bizimana in a group show at the National Art Gallery in Nyanza. The proliferation of art fairs, festivals and biennales has been criticised by many in the art world but this has been crucial and beneficial for me. I attend all the main fairs and meet gallerists, curators, academics, journalists and even artists who suggest artists … who also introduce me to other fellow artists; this ‘word of mouth’ is very important (we actually first met at the inaugural Frieze Art Fair in New York)! I tend to use galleries and artist residency programmes as a filter, so I am frequently seeing shows. I primarily look at artists
working at a certain level and exhibiting regularly. Though not all are established or even have gallery representation, they need to possess some level of profile. The Studio Harlem Artist-in-Residence programme in New York is certainly an important destination for finding some of the next generation of African and African American artists. The 2011-12 programme featured some of my current favourite talents: Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili, Botswana-born painter Meleko Mokgosi and multi-disciplinary artist Xaviera Simmons.
When something strikes us, we send around images and links to our colleagues, and have an internal debate about the merits of the work. If we are curious enough, we’ll start a dialogue with an artist about their practice.
This year’s Venice Biennale was also a treasure trove for discovering talent. The pavilions of Zimbabwe and Angola, I thought did a thoroughly excellent job showcasing artists at varying levels from emerging to the established. I was impressed by Zimbabwean sculptor Michele Mathison and artist Virginia Chihota as well as, the work of photographer Edson Chagas, which won the Golden Lion for the Best National Participation for the first ever pavilion for Angola. I am now looking forward to next year’s Marrakech, Dakar and Sao Paulo Biennales.
modern art. What can be done about keeping the work ‘local’ as I like to call it? JB: The answer to your question is perhaps a more complicated than it appears at first. The simple answer is that we need collectors dedicated to keeping the work on the continent, and either private or public institutions with the resources and infrastructure to store, preserve and exhibit work. In an ideal world, however, these ‘local’ institutions would not be exclusively dedicated to ‘local’ art. It would be great to keep more work by African artists accessible on the continent, but it would be a real triumph to have work from all over the world collected and displayed by African museums. Tate Modern does not just show British art, MoMA does not just show American art; why should a museum here only show or collect African art? However, the dream of a network of African institutions that collect and exhibit contemporary art—from here or from elsewhere—seems far off. There are some rumours about spaces opening up in South Africa—both the Schachat Collection and the Zeitz Collection are meant to have their own space in the next few years. The National Gallery in Harare is reportedly doing ambitious things under Raphael Chikukwa. But these are exceptions, and I don’t see us replicating the depth of institutions you find in Europe or the States in the near future.
Having said all this, good old-fashion reading of academic essays and journals, including art publications I find, is also still essential. Furthermore, technology plays an important role as the internet is a great place for finding out about an artist and doing initial research on his work. BO: Emerging and established artists now have plenty of outlets on the continent for showing an exhibiting their work. Galleries such as yourself, and contemporary art and culture centres like the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA,Lagos), Raw Material Company in Senegal and Darb 1718, Egypt have become invaluable in shaping and nurturing talent. What is significantly missing is the end game, the museums to display all the work that is currently being made by African artists living and working, on and off the continent. I would say more than half is going to Europe, America and the rest of the world, as is the case with most of our traditional and
For now, I think The New Church in Cape Town is a great model that could be replicated elsewhere. Rather than building
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an elaborate museum, Piet Viljoen (an important South African collector) just bought a house, renovated it, and installed his collection. Once a year, he invites an outside curator to do a re-hang. I know that for the artists, like Lynette YiadomBoakye, Robin Rhode and Serge Nitegeka, it means a lot that their work is accessible to the public, and it has already changed the atmosphere in Cape Town. The costs of the entire operation are modest in relation to its achievements. I see no good reason why this cannot happen more in major cities across Africa—anyone reading this magazine and visiting Cape Town simply has to visit New Church. BO: Your points are salient though with the geopolitical landscape of the continent, I’m not quite sure of following the US or European museum structure is the way forward but we can certainly learn a great deal from their framework and structure. I am also not convinced by the encyclopaedic approach to museums is appropriate in this instance but do believe we need to work with what we have then develop our ideals from there. I applaud Piet Viljoen’s The New Church, which I have heard great things about and look forward to seeing the space soon. The recently announced plans to build the Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts is an important step for Morocco and for Africa. Financed by private investors and various corporate backers, the museum is scheduled to open in 2016. I do conclude that privately financed institutions could be the best way forward.
NIGERIA MONARCHS WORDS BOMI ODUFUNADE IMAGES GEORGE OSODI
as the harshness and gruelling conditions of gold mining, illustrated in the series: De Money: Ghana Gold (2009) to mirroring the dramatic beauty of the mundanity of life in Lagos Uncelebrated (2004-11). With Nigeria Monarchs, Osodi continues to develop his photographic practice using powerful documentary images in examining the bygone era of Nigeria’s once ruling monarchy. These portraits are the first of its kind showcasing the descendants of once powerful tribal kings who ruled disparate kingdoms within the vast country. By the end of British colonial rule, their influence had all but waned and with Nigeria’s independence in 1963, the new Republic abolished monarchistic rule. Osodi at times seems to be re-interpreting portraiture by blurring the practice of traditional and contemporary photography. The portraits collate modern culture and are, by and large, vigorous, direct and succinct but could be easily be referencing 17th century Dutch Old Masters. The photograph of HRM Pere Donokoromo II JP, The Pere of Isaba Kingdom (2012) bears similarities with artist’s Frans ‘Hals’ portrait of Dutch businessman Willem van Heythuysen leaning back in his chair, which he painted in 1634. HRM Agbogidi Obi James Ikechukwu Anyasi II, The Obi of Idumuje Unor (2012) seated on his throne draws comparison to Jan Mijtens’ Portrait of Cornelis Tromp (1668) which today hangs in Rijksmuseum in Netherlands. With his royal pose and pointed gaze, the Nigerian monarch is photographed wearing a majestic robe adorned with images of the young Queen Elizabeth II. This elegant Nigerian monarch held the title of Africa’s longest reigning king, until his recent death earlier this year. He was also the second-longest reigning monarch in the world after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. Born in 1974, Osodi came of age in the early 90s, having studied at at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, he worked as a photojournalist for the defunct Comet Newspaper in Lagos. In 2004, he won first prize for the Fuji African Photojournalist of the Year and was nominated for the prestigious Prix Pictet Photography prize in 2008. The artist has participated in many solo and group shows exhibiting widely and internationally including We Face Forward: Art from West Africa Today, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester in 2012; Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, Smithsonian, Washington in 2012; Rencontres de Bamako, Mali in 2011; Make Yourself at Home, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen in 2010 and Intempéries, OCA, São Paulo in 2009.
George Osodi, His Highness, The Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero, 2012
Lagos-based artist George Osodi’s new body of work Nigeria Monarchs will be the the subject of a major show at Bermondsey Project in London this coming October. One of the finest photographers of his generation, Osodi came to prominence with Oil Rich Niger Delta, a series of photographs shown at Documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007 documenting the grim impact of the oil industry on the lives of people of the Niger Delta, and the ensuing
environmental demise of Nigeria’s oil rich region. Using photojournalism as his medium, his lens enigmatically captures “truth images” in portraits and landscapes allowing him to sensitively frame, gripping and imposing observations of present history of the African experience, particularly in Nigeria. His realistic approach enables his compelling eye to waver and visually record images such
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OM: You studied Business Administration at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos and then went on to work as a photojournalist. Can you tell us about your trajectory from school days to picking up the camera? Even though I studied Business Administration and worked at the bank briefly, I finally picked up a camera because of my great passion for photography and creativity. I, however, wanted to be part of the young generation of photographers that documented change and posterity in my country Nigeria and the rest of the world.
George Osodi, HRM Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun Larooye II, Ataoja of Osogboland, 2012
OM: Which artists would you say influenced you, in developing your artistic practice? It all depends. I studied the works of various artists, both modern and classical, so it is hard for me to pick a particular artist. OM: The complete portfolio of Oil Rich Niger Delta is an expansive body of work consisting of over 200 photographs. What led you to undertake this project? Growing up as a young man in the Delta region, I heard so many stories about the injustice, conflict and pollution brought about by the impact of oil exploration in the region but saw very little in images. So when I became a photographer, I felt it was important to create a body of work that would draw attention, to not only Nigerians but to the outside world too and, of course, this commodity called the “Black Gold”. OM: You showed the Oil Rich Niger Delta series at Documenta 12, the most esteemed exhibition of contemporary art in the world in 2007. How was your work selected and how was the experience? Honestly, I have no idea. I showed my work to the organizers of Documenta 12 during their visit to Lagos, just like other Nigerian artists they visited. Months later, I got an invitation from them to participate in the exhibition. Perhaps they found the work interesting and strong enough and the global sensitivity of the issue may also have contributed. The experience was a dream come true, having my work recognized and accepted in the art world was like breaking the boundaries, as the body of work was issuebased and highly political.
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OM: You will debut your new work Nigeria Monarchs this coming October in London. How did this project come about? Even though this body of work is very cultural, it has some political undertones that influenced its conception. Firstly, I became disturbed by the recent and continual sectarian crisis and security challenges facing the country. I felt there was a misplaced priority and identity among some groups of people. Nigeria is a country, not only rich in natural resources but also in its cultural and religious diversity. I believe this should be a source of strength and unity among the various ethnic groups and not create a divide and instability among the people. Secondly, documenting and archiving culture is a key to understanding our historical origins and thus developing a sense of national identity. OM: I would say that Nigeria Monarchs seems to be incorporating artistic traditions drawn from the Golden Age of Dutch painting. With this project, are you toying mischievously with art history? I have always been a fan of art from the Golden Age of Europe, America and Japan even before I became a photographer. I remember that I used to buy art books from mostly this period from second hand bookshops. I would looked very closely at the style of works by various artists especially the way some played with colours, mood and the nostalgic overtones depicted in some of the paintings. To me nothing seems to be new, so I do believe in learning and being inspired by the ‘Old Masters’ but also reinterpreting the work to identify with the contemporary of today. I think creative rules made by men are not to be held forever and man can always distort laws, but you may not want to be too far from your own artistic observations. OM: Looking at the aesthetics within your work: the devastation and tragedy of the Delta region, the unsettling beauty yet harshness of the Jos crisis in The Devide and now the reflections of what seem a forgotten ‘Golden Age’ of Nigerian monarchs. Would you agree that there seems to exist a discourse of ‘Paradise Lost’ in your work in examining Nigeria through the lens? When you take a close look at my work/project, you will find that element of paradox within the space. OM: I am curious about some of your past works, in particular Zimbabweans in Jo’Burg: Hight of Hope? Can you explain the ideas in conceiving the series? Following the political imbalance of Zimbabwe’s political landscape, the series looks at the plight of Zimbabweans living in South Africa, despite the xenophobia and the boundaries they have to cross to be in Jossy. OM: You often refer to photography as an ‘instrument of social engineering’. What does that mean to you? Why do you characterize it this way? We live in a much more globalized village today. There is a time for everything, a time to be born, a time to live, and a time to die. Having lived with this notion as my rational self and as I have come to understand the world, I think that the earth deserves to be protected, knowing well that this place is home for all. The above
El Anatsui Coins on Grandma’s Cloth 1992 African Hardwood 64 x 140cm Estimate: £26,000 - £36,000 George Osodi, HRM Pere Donokoromo ll JP The Pere of Isaba Kingdom, 2012
understanding is the pedestal that locates my work in photography. I have always seen and believed in photography as an instrument for conservation and change, even though, as a photographer, I personally may not be able to change the world. Due to my belief in and my great love for humanity and fairness to the earth, I tend to focus on photographing issue-related subjects, especially within the contemporary African landscape. I have hopes that those in power or civil and monarchical authorities would reflect on and be inspired by these images and make changes in their patterns of governance in order to effect a more sustainable environment that will enable our world.
Online Auction, 18th October 2013 With pre-auction exhibition on 17th -18th October 2013 At The Music Room, 26 South Molton Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 5LF
OM: What is your next photographic project? Can you divulge any information? I am not too sure that I know of my next project, at this time as I am still working to finish my current project Nigeria Monarchs. I am sure when I am done; I will be inspired by some other concept for a new project, all things being equal. Nigeria Monarchs: The Custodians of Peace and Cultural Heritage by George Osodi is on view at the Bermondsey Project, Willow Walk, London SE1 from October 11 – November 3.
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Global Energy Group (GEC) is an Africa focused independent Energy Resources Corporation. GEC operates with a mission to explore, harness and produce a variety of energy resources in a sustainable manner that enhances the wealth of our host nations and the quality of life of the people. GEC as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility over the past two decades, actively supports and promotes arts, culture and people initiatives in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. GEC aims to nurture, sustain and showcase the best of Africaâ€™s immense creative energy with a special focus on the visual arts, dance, drama, and theatre.
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Published on May 12, 2016
Omenka is also Africa’s premium art, business and luxury-lifestyle magazine. It has expanded its focus to include content on architecture an...