Thursday, 3 April 2008

This weekend's first professional auction of Modern and Contemporary Art from Nigeria is generating keen interest in the Lagos art sector.

Yusuf Grillo, Humana, 1993, oil on board.
The Lagos Art scene is buzzing at the moment. Following hot on the heels of the landmark first professional Art Fair on the continent, The Johannesburg Art Fair in which Nigeria galleries were conspiciously absent (that is a debate for another date) is the first ever professional auction of Modern and Contemporary Art in Africa. This is a landmark initiative of the newly formed Arthouse Contemporary Ltd and will be held this weekend starting tomorrow. Over 100 artworks by collectors, galleries and individual artists are up for auction with dates ranging from 1960 (sculptor Lamidi Fakeye) to the present. It is a pity we don't have any works by the very early modern artists such as Onabolu, Lasekan or Akeredolu. That begs the question about where are their works which few people have ever seen work outside of a catalogue. Whilst I personally know some collectors who have these artists' work I also know they would never put them up for auction or maybe they are adopting as we say in local parlance a siddon look position for now. An understandable tactic considering these early artists' works are way undervalued at the moment and in real terms should be worth 10 if not 20 times today's figures. Nigerians learnt with horror that a Ben Enwonwu and an Asiru Olatunde came up an auctioneer's sale in London and was going for about £400 as no-one was in a position to properly evaluate its worth.

The estimated prices are as low as $510 for a young artist to $50,000 for an older artist whose work has been more or less doubling ever year and Nigerian collectors are still failing over themselves to get buy one of his works. Exciting times indeed. So for those of you who want to bid by phone go to their website to get all the information.


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