The Lagos Art Scene is thrown into mourning
Peter Areh, We will always Remember You. R.I.P
On the afternoon of thursday the 2nd of July I sat in the studio of La source du Lion in Casablanca talking to the artist Hassan Darsi whilst he completed a work for a forthcoming solo exhibition. After a week of horrible flu I was feeling well enough to call and talk to a few artists but I thought let me check my mail quickly. The first few were the usual routine stuff. Then i opened that of my colleague and friend Ijeoma Okeke after the usual preamble the last sentence asked if i had heard what happened to Peter Areh early that morning that he had been stabbled and was dead. I screamed Oh my God. Hassan asked if it was bad news but I could only reply Oh my God! Oh my God. I became weak and handed him my laptop which was on my lap and the tears came streaming down uncontrollably. The pain was too much that such a nice person was no more. After several minutes I gained my composure and picked up my computer again to re-read the email just in case i misread it. I stared at the words over and over and over again so that it could sink in. So that I could believe the unbelievable. I caught a few friends on facebook and gmail and the story was confirmed. Luckily my flight for Lagos was that evening. In Lagos more stories of the unfortunate incident was relayed. What a tragedy, what a loss.
I can't remember when I met Peter but it is most likely to have in 2000 when I did my first project in Lagos - a series of talks featuring international guest speakers. But it seems he has always been there. Since my return to Lagos we always meet either at the exhibition opening of his Pendulum Gallery or at other exhibition around Lagos. Peter always seemed elusive - wheeling and dealing - part of the artworld yet apart from it. In 2000 he opened Pendulum Art Gallery and has actively supported a large number of Nigerian artists both young and old through his activities. Although Peter was a serious businessman, his interest in art went beyond making a fast buck to supporting and being a collector and art philanthropist. He supported in many ways several individual artists and artists groups and collectives. He encouraged critical thinking and educational activities and publishing. I really respected his activities.
Before I left for Casablanca I spent 3 days straight in his company - a feat in itself for this busy young man. On one of the days he came to CCA,Lagos because he wanted me to talk to one of his staff who he felt he wasn't get through to and maybe he might listen or understand me better. We later had lunch with his business partner from London on the balcony at CCA. The next day I saw him at the opening of Nnenna Okore's exhibition. Afterwards a group of us all went looking for a bar/restaurant where the guys could watch football. We settled on bogobiri and hung out there till late in the evening talking about the business of art. Peter was always teasing me about being a non-profit organisation and I teased him about being profit orientated. Then we talked about bringing our skills together. In that one evening I learnt so so much about the thinking of the average nigerian collector or art buyer, about the business of art in Nigeria. It was a fascinating exchange. The next day we met again with some friends just to chill out again at Bogobiri and continued talking. That was the longest and closest time I have spent with Peter and I found the learning experience exciting and looked forward to continuing the conversation and hopefully working on a project together when i returned from Casablanca. Alas it was not meant to be. A promising, enterprising, generous, friendly and always smiling young man was wickedly taken from us. I have said it and written it before and I do so again. Peter I will never forget your smiling face. Rest in perfect peace in the bosom of our Lord. May God grant your wife and family the strength to bear the loss.
Sun Re O, Sun Re O Peter.
Tributes continue to pour in and many have passed through my mailbox which the writers have not objected to me sharing here.
Na wa oooooo. Peter Areh? My shock at his passing was like that of Michael Jackson's. It is absolutely unbelievable! What would he have been struggling with anybody? Well wetin man no know, God know am. May his soul rest in peace.
As I reflect on the news of Peter's death, I interrogate the concept of violence in Africa and elsewhere. I interrogate violence in Africa because of the multiple dimensions violence has assumed in this continent. Ranging from large scale, collective ethnocidal violence to various forms of organized individual killings and extending to what Appadurai describes as "extreme forms of political violence against civilian population," I get crossed at the rate of the escalation. Although you cannot divorce these kinds of violence from other continents but the contention here is the alarming senselessness which Africa’s own has assumed. I get worried that the terrains of my country are becoming more dangerous with the passing days. Things keep on degenerating without visible attempt by the so called government to address them. As a matter of fact, without being utterly pessimistic here, I have never seen or heard of any assassination case in Nigeria whereby the culprits were ever apprehended. What is actually happening? If you think of any advanced and developed society you can count on Nigerians as one of the most successful groups in any field of human endeavour. But if you come back to Nigeria it would seem as though hell has been let loose. I don’t intend to use this space to cast aspersion on my beloved country but sometimes it makes me think sh*t when I remember the state of things in a country which should be one of the richest countries in the world. Don’t misunderstand me as this write-up comes as a sudden emotional ejaculation to the death of Peter. Yes it’s true one cannot cry over spilled milk but let it be known to the world that the milk was most insensibly and brutally spilled that one cannot help crying out loud. Adieu Peter! Jee nke oma. Okey Nwafor.
|from Busayo Lawal|
...in memory of Peter Areh
by Renee 'nay' Kristen Kristen
|Trapped in the glorious years|
within the memory of belief, lost of all grief.
Take the reasons,
which once seemed so clear,
but never mind, you have nothing to fear.
For you my fried will be, forever young,
Forever in the heart of memories.
Lost in the glory of all time,
the wisdom was there within that smile,
You see you could have told us,
there within lies the mystery.
So shed a smile, and grin a tear,
For you my friend, will be,
Forever young, Forever young.
Forever in the heart of memory,
We see not through or misery.
Forever young, forever young.
There's a new angel tonight.
GONE TOO SOON!!!
We regret to announce the death of MR PETER DUBEM AREH who was an active foundation member of VASON. The sad event took place on Thursday 2nd of July, 2009.
We wish to condole the family of the deceased and make a donation to them.
A VASON condolence register will be opened at Mydrim Gallery 74B Norman Williams Street, S.W. Ikoyi Lagos from tomorrow, 8th of July, 2009.
Members are kindly requested to send their donations by cheques payable to VISUAL ART SOCIETY OF NIGERIA and forwarded to the Treasurer Mrs. Ogunsanya at Mydrim gallery or to the Executive Secretary (VASON) Mr. Ekpo Udo Udoma.
Ekpo Udo Udoma
Somethings can be left undone.
Some words can be left unsaid.
Some feelings can be left unexpressed
BUT Peter Areh fatally stabbed 3am Thurs 2July 2009 cannot be left UNAPPRECIATED IN NIG ART WORLD!
Oyinke Okoro, the immediate past Chairman SNA Abia State
I first received the sudden sad news of Peter Areh's death from Chuka, then followed by Kunle Adeyemi and Ufuoma Onobrakpeya. And I asked is this for real? Why? Why? Why? At 38, the ex banker and art dealer touched lives within and outside Lagos. To us as SNA he was a patron, a cheerful friend, and philanthropist donating generously when ever we called on him. I met him way back and in Senegal at DAK'ART 2OO6. where we started getting close . I recall the Abeokuta experience too where SNA honoured him with an award he received in person during Mr. Kolade Oshinowo's tenure . We further interracted this year in March with him at Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya's studio in Lagos where we discoursed SNA partnershiping with Pendulum-his gallery . How I wished he lived to fulfil this dream of ours. Our dear artists, gallery owners, and most especially the Society of Nigerian Artists will surely miss him greatly. We pray God to give his family the grece to bear this sudden loss. Amen.
Uwa Usen,National President, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA)
What a sad news!
Who could have done this?
But why Peter Areh?
This is sad
What a lost to the arts
and to the nation!
May God grant his family & associates the fortitude
to bear this great lost of a great mind.
May is soul rest in PEACE.
Babasehinde Ademuleya Ph. D
Artist and African Art Historian
Department of Fine & Applied Arts,
Obafemi Awolowo University,
It’s a lot concern when we cannot stop and ponder over tragic issue such as the case of Peter Areh, not to purse and think of “our” mortality. It seems to me that we have lost our emotion, our sensitivity to tragedies. We are too quick to forget, and too selfish to care; a worrisome development in Nigeria. No wonder we are no longer moved as we see dead bodies on the street, not touched by accident scenes, not traumatized by tragedies. Someone should help this generation!
PeternAreh’s death came as a shock, more than a shock! I’m yet to recover. Who wants Areh dead? Who benefits from his death? ... it is very sad.
We will remember him for his various contributions to art development in Nigeria and beyond, his determination to promote Nigerian artists internationally, his love for PACA. He was not one of the many parasitic gallery owners/art promoters all over the places. He was humble, simple and amiable, characters that are lacking among many who are gold-diggers in the art sector and who have no respect whatsoever for the artist from whom they earn a living. I miss him dearly.
My first shock came from a old relation. "Is it true what I am hearing that Peter was stabbed by some assassins or armed robbers late morning? Please can you help confirm?
I have not been so well lately. So I called a few people, and as usual when you really want to get across our darling mobile fone providers would just then say like our leaders, "Not AVAILABLE" Or something as incoherent as that..
So i am in a retreat and praying for Nigeria and for our dear fragile planet that have so many arrogant people.
Our hearts should be with Peter's family. We should cary on from where he left. May his enemies be found. Amen!!