ART X Lagos, the leading international art fair in West Africa, is pleased to announce its return for its eighth edition, from 2-5 November 2023 with a compelling multi-disciplinary programme themed ‘The Dialogue’.
Daniel Arnan Quarshie, Benediction, 2023. Charcoal and pastel on wood, 274 x 549cm. Tryptic. Presented by Gallery 1957.
The Dialogue will propel audiences to take the time and find the space for dialogue, to share and inspire one another through art, against a backdrop of challenges being experienced in Nigeria, with political and socio-economic difficulties across Africa and further afield. The theme of the fair seeks to elicit reflection, conversation, discussion and negotiation, to shift knowledge – moving towards seeing beyond the dilemmas we experience, to ways that encourage us to imagine the here and now differently.
The Dialogue will explore the ways storytelling can help us to see ourselves in renewed ways, while welcoming us to think presently in, and about the world and our place in it. The fair’s emphasis in this unique year, on conversation and community, will see audiences raising their voices on these challenging times, not just for Nigeria, but on the continent and globally. The Dialogue will collapse the boundaries between low and high art, popular culture and art, objects and stories, and will bring together cinema, literature, and visual culture into a polyphonic program at the epi-centre of the fair experience, inviting its audiences to get deeply involved.
Joining the conversation will be a tightly curated selection of ten invited exhibitors, each of whom is contributing to the visual arts ecosystem across Africa and the Diaspora in a unique way: Afriart Gallery (Uganda), Alexis Galleries (Nigeria), Galerie MAM (Cameroon), Gallery 1957 (Ghana), kó art space (Nigeria), Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria), O’DA Art Gallery (Nigeria), SMO Contemporary Art (Nigeria), Tiwani Contemporary (UK/Nigeria) and Wunika Mukan Gallery (Nigeria). This special experience will forge deep connections between gallerists, artists, collectors and fairgoers, enabling the exhibiting artists and gallerists to live out their role as important voices in the ongoing writing of narratives.
Beginning with the renowned sculptor and printmaker, Bruce Onobrakpeya, whose career spans sixty-five years, and is recognised as one of the founding figures of modern art in Nigeria as a member of the Zaria Art Society, a special exhibition, ‘Writing With…’ curated by Missla Libsekal, will focus on Onobrakpeya’s work to retrieve and reinterpret texts written for the ear and reshaped into modern visual art. Drawing connections between the world of literature and printmaking, the exhibition will explore the artist’s relationship with key African literary figures such as the Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi and Amos Tutuola.
A second exhibition curated by Libsekal, ‘Graphic Stories’, offers a retrospective look at illustrations in mass media, from their earliest appearance in Nigeria during the 1940s and spanning to the 1980s, revealing the ingenuity and approaches used by cartoonists to produce social commentary and critique on everyday life in Nigeria.
Exhibitions by guest curators will include a special installation by MOWAA (the Museum of West African Art, Edo) inviting the ART X Lagos audience to interact directly with the themes to be articulated in the upcoming Nigeria Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2024. MOWAA seeks to capture the memories, nostalgias, ideas and perspectives of Nigerians, inviting them to look back and remember the different Nigeria’s they have seen.
‘Passing / Building / Victory’ by the multidisciplinary artist Dennis Osadebe speaks to the importance of teamwork, not only in sport but in all aspects of life, encouraging us to reflect on the power we hold when we come together. ‘The Hands That Remain’, an emotive installation by Papa Omotayo and Max Kalaiwo, aims to archive those left behind, in the home we are still building, following decades of emigration from the continent by Nigerians and Africans.
ART X Cinema, a new programme for 2023, will premiere with a screening program of artists’ films and documentaries that consider how artists continue to disrupt, imagine and reinvent writing, and make visible what is emerging or re-emerging through accounts that help us find our bearings. Taking inspiration from Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène, the pioneer of African cinema, the artist-filmmakers in this edition will include Sammy Baloji, Meriem Bennani, Jihan El-Tahri, Binelde Hyrcan, Onyeka Igwe, Goddy Leye, Ibrahim Mahama, Betelhem Makonnen, Zen Marie, Fatimah Tuggar, Ezra Wube and more.
Further enriching the conversation at ART X Lagos, the fair’s lively discussion series ART X Talks will feature a roster of speakers anchored by Bruce Onobrakpeya and Ibrahim Mahama, the artist and founder of The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (Tamale, Ghana), who will speak to the ideas and ethics that ground his work, including what becomes possible when art transforms from commodity to gift.
ART X Live!, the fair’s one-of-a-kind live music and art experience, returns in 2023, featuring the multi- hyphenate musicians Tay Iwar and Azekel in a night of exceptional musical storytelling, curated by Lanre Masha and Ayo Lawson.
Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, Founder & CEO of ART X Collective said: “2023 has brought with it an exacerbation of the challenges experienced in recent years across Nigeria and Africa, and in this pivotal year, we recognise that ART X Lagos’ evolving role as a gathering place for our community, is all the more crucial. Our vision for the fair this year, presented through ‘The Dialogue’, will feature artists, both past and present, whose story forms based on folklore and tales by moonlight, graphic stories, film shorts and essays, produce nuanced portrayals of real and imagined places and people, and respond to, and subsequently navigate through, socio-political circumstances in Nigerian, pan-African and Diasporan histories. It will see us placing an emphasis on conversations, and providing a space in which we can learn together, question together, and be inspired to contribute to shaping the society we desire for ourselves and for future generations. As we probe deeper this year, and as we have done in recent years, we are pushing further the boundaries of the ‘art fair’, challenging and testing the notion of what an art fair can be, and orchestrating its evolution and adaptation to the uniqueness of a city like Lagos and its contexts.”
The 2023 fair will also see the return of ART X Lagos’ developmental platforms, designed to foster connection, encourage exchange, and celebrate the vibrancy of African artistry. Art Across Borders, a collaboration with Afreximbank, will present its third volume, bringing together six artists from diverse corners of Africa and the Caribbean, representing the innovative spirit that defines contemporary art by individuals of African descent. The Development Forum, which bridges the gap between emerging art practitioners and the art industry through informal conversations, will delve into the various paths open to emerging artists and curators to build and advance their careers within the industry.
The largest of these platforms, the Access ART X Prize, a prestigious award for early-career artists from across Africa and its Diaspora in partnership with Access Holdings/Access Bank, will present a duo exhibition curated by Jumoke Sanwo featuring its 2022 winners – Dafe Oboro (Nigeria Prizewinner) and Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński (Africa/Diaspora Prizewinner). The call for applications for the 2023 edition of the Access ART X Prize was announced on September 20, 2023, and concluded on October 18, 2023.
The Access ART X Prize 2023 winners will be selected by an esteemed jury which includes Babajide Adeniyi-Jones (Photographer), Barthélémy Toguo (Artist), Daudi Karungi (Founder, Afriart Gallery), Emeka Ogboh (Artist), Gabi Ngcobo (Artist and Curatorial Director, University of Pretoria), and Yesomi Umolu (Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice, Serpentine Galleries). One artist will be selected from Nigeria, who will undergo a residency at Gasworks London, while a second artist from Africa and its Diaspora will be selected to undergo a residency at Yinka Shonibare’s G.A.S. Foundation in Lagos. Both artists will be granted exhibitions at the ART X Lagos fair in 2024 supported by grants of $10,000 each for their exhibitions.
ART X Lagos 2023 will take place from 2-5 November at The Federal Palace, Victoria Island, Lagos. The private Collectors’ Preview will be held on Thursday, November 2nd, followed by the VIP Preview on Friday, November 3rd. The fair will be open to the public on Saturday, November 4th and Sunday, November 5th, 2023, while virtual audiences can also engage with the fair on Artsy.