Monday, August 23, 2010

Nigerian Art - A Gathering Momentum

Finally it seems Nigerian art, especially modern contemporary Nigerian art, and indeed antiquities, are beginning to creep into their pride of place. What with the occasional auctions that are organized by a few private stakeholders, not to mention of course the now annual Lagos art expo put together by he association of gallery owners, etc. But in all of these and above all, it is worthy of mention that Nigerian art is after all going on the international art auction
Just recently, Bonhams, a British auction house put up an international auction of African art in New York, USA, in March this year. It is also cheery to note that given the five most expensive woks at this event, they were all Nigerian, in which a painting by the late Ben Enwonwu - depicting some of the artist’s characteristic dazzling dancers, went for $91,000.
Thence one will now begin to see the far sightedness and wisdom in the uncanny hobby or pastime that the few or tiny circle of ardent collectors we have in Nigeria today, have chosen to embark on from many years back, and even so for those who would be genuinely embarking on a similar journey even from now on. This tiny circle of collectors makes strong statements about the government caring very little about preserving this rich artistic heritage, and in the same vein share the cynicism of many Nigerians, who think the politicians are more eager to grab a share of the revenues of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producer. But the labours of love of these few dedicated patrons have begun to pay off as these collections are beginning to attract international attention as well as cash. And so, this is fast becoming a good place to spend some of the huge oil money that flow in a country that still has the majority of her bewildered and beleaguered general masses grinding and cringing in abject poverty.
Even with all of these, it is still generally strongly believed that Nigeria’s art is still very much undervalued, This sentiment is shared by many of those collectors who were at the auction, and even more so by Mr.Giles Peppiatt, director of contemporary African art at Bonhams. He states that prices are bound to go up. So brace up, for the journey it seems, has just begun,

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