ART X Lagos’s 2023 physical edition closed on Sunday, 5 November, with an online extension continuing on Artsy.com until 9 November.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Professor Bruce Onabrakpeya (Artist), Tokini Peterside-Schwebig (Founder of ART X Lagos)
Taking place from 2 – 5 November, 2023 at The Federal Palace, Lagos, the physical fair ended amidst reports of great acclaim from participants and attendees, who remarked on the fair’s responsiveness to its social context and the needs of its community in this particular year.
Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, Founder of ART X Lagos said: “ART X Lagos remains a cornerstone of the African art industry, and demonstrated with its eighth edition that it is more than a traditional art fair. Our uniqueness and strength lies in our ability to gather a wide spectrum of artistic voices on one stage, ranging from a revered 91-year-old artist and prominent collectors, to the hottest new musical talents and DJs in Africa. We are delighted at the response from our galleries and artists, who judged the fair a resounding success. This year’s fair further entrenched our uniqueness on the world stage as an innovative multidisciplinary platform that exemplifies unity and excellence across Africa.”
At the heart of the fair, the amphitheatre served as a strategic focal point to amplify the fair’s theme, “The Dialogue”, embodying the spirit of community and resilience. It symbolised the coming together of people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate the transformative power of art in the face of political and socio-economic challenges.
The versatile amphitheatre played host to a myriad of programmed events including ART X Talks, The Development Forum, ART X Live!, and the newly introduced ART X Cinema – an immersive audio-visual experience that showcased the works of over 14 renowned artists. Over the course of four eventful days, attendees were invited to immerse themselves in a rich selection of films that delved into how artists disrupt, imagine, and reinvent through the written word, illuminating emerging or resurfacing ideas through narratives that guide us on our collective journey.
Other highlight special projects included Bruce Onabrakpeya’s Writing with…, curated by Missla Libsekal and sponsored by Chapel Hill Denham; Graphic Stories By Ed Keazor and Missla Libsekal; The Hands that Remain by Papa Omotayo and Max Kalaiwo; The Nigeria Imaginary Incubator Project presented by The Museum of West African Art (MOWAA); Passing / Building / Victory an interactive project by Dennis Osadebe, presented by NBA Africa; and Painting / Building / Victory by Dennis Osadebe and The Library. These projects ignited thought-provoking discussions and fostered a profound sense of unity among attendees. Despite the challenges faced, the fair served as a powerful platform for artistic expression and dialogue, leaving an indelible impact on all who had experienced it.
ART X Lagos 2023 featured a tightly curated selection of 10 exhibitors, each making a unique contribution to the visual arts ecosystem across Africa and the Diaspora. Galleries exhibiting at ART X Lagos 2023 commented:
“We have been part of ART X Lagos since the very beginning. It’s such an important fair for West Africa and the continent as a whole, representing Africa to the world. We were humbled and proud to be invited to take part in the dialogue. It demonstrates our longstanding relationship with the organisers and Nigeria. ART X Lagos is always a meeting point for us. We see our friends and collectors. It’s always a great opportunity to be here at ART X Lagos.” – Gallery 1957 (Ghana)
“Our experience at ART X Lagos this year has been so exciting. We have been approached by people from all over the world, people who we have never met before. It’s been a whirlwind experience. We are honoured to be here and showcase the works we have on display.” – O’DA Art Gallery (Nigeria)
“The theme of this year’s edition of ART X Lagos, The Dialogue, is in complete alignment with what Galerie MAM stands for, which is doing things for us, with us, and by us. We feel proud and privileged to be part of this dialogue.” – Galerie MAM (Cameroon)
The Development Forum, a platform that promotes dialogue between emerging art practitioners and the art industry through informal conversations featured insightful discussions from Jumoke Sanwo (Curator, K-Air Lagos), Bénédicte Alliot (Director Cité Internationale Paris), Belinda Holden (C.E.O G.A.S Foundation, Lagos), and was skillfully moderated by Wana Wana (Curator, Storyteller). They explored the significance of artist residencies in an artist’s practice and career, and the impact of the local context of a residency’s location. They also emphasised the value of research and academic approaches to artistic practice, as well as the importance of learning from curators and their life experiences.
Another topic of discussion moderated by Seun Alli (Director, June Creative Art Advisory) with Reni Adeagbo (Gallerist at kó), Mona Taha (Artist), Daudi Karungi (Founder of Afriart Gallery) and Kwadwo Asiedu (Artist) centred around the role of a gallerist and the various forms of relationships that can be established between artists and their galleries, and how these relationships can be sustained. The forum concluded with a discussion moderated by Wana Wana (Curator, Storyteller) with Etinosa Yvonne (Documentary Photographer, Visual Artist), the winner of the 2019 Access ART X Prize, who discussed how she presents powerful and difficult stories through contemporary art.
In collaboration with Afreximbank, Art Across Borders proudly unveiled its third volume at the fair. The 2023 program introduced six dynamic artists, who exemplify the innovative spirit that characterises contemporary African art, showcasing the works of Kwadwo Asiedu (Ghana), Wilfried Mbida (Cameroon), Mona Taha (Uganda), Gareth Nyandoro (Zimbabwe), Mahmoud Talaat (Egypt), and Nicolas Derne (Martinique).
Through the diverse voices and talents of these six artists, the aim was to ignite conversations, challenge perceptions, and collectively envision a future where the borders that traditionally divide us are reshaped by the unrestricted flow of creativity and collaboration.
ART X Talks took the dialogue to a deeper level with several lively discussions. Ibrahim Mahama (Artist), under the expert moderation of Missla Libsekal (Independent Curator), engaged in an enriching conversation on leading contemporaries. Renowned artist, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya (Artist) held the attention of esteemed guests as he discussed “Writing for the Times” alongside Ifeoma Fafunwa (Playwright, Theatre Maker and Activist). The Talks program concluded with Femi Lijadu (Collector/Patron) leading a discussion with Ugoma Ebilah (Curator) on reimaging patronage as an essential aspect of artistic practice.
Saturday night was infused with high energy as ART X Live! came alive. The talents – Tay Iwar, Azekel, and Dope Caesar took the crowd on an electrifying musical journey to a place of joy and celebration at the pinnacle of the fair weekend.
The Access ART X Prize 2022 winners each showcased a solo exhibition at the fair. Dafe Oboro’s presentation, titled “Odafe,” delved deep into his own introspection, where he explored themes of cultural displacement, masculinity, migration, spirituality, and rebirth. He employed a diverse range of mediums, including self-portraiture, sound, collage, film, and theatrical metaphor to convey the depth of his artistic message. Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński’s solo exhibition, “Ire,” unveiled an evocative photographic series that ventured into the realms of ancestral memory and familial representation. This introspective body of work was inspired by the artist’s profound engagement with Yoruba cosmology, offering a profound journey back to her cultural roots. The winners of the 2023 prize will be announced mid-November.
ART X Lagos will return for its ninth edition in November 2024. For more information, please visit ART X Lagos.