By Nii Tei Laryea.
There is a lot happening in Lagos these days. Well… when is there not a lot going on in Lagos? On the CAA scene though, the Lagos Photo Festival 2019 runs from Oct 27th – Nov 15th, the Lagos Book and Art Festival is to be held from Nov 4th – 10th, and one of the city’s biggest art parties, ART X Lagos happens from Nov 1st-3rd, 2019.
ART X Lagos was launched in 2016, and in 4 years has welcomed over 22,000 visitors to exhibitions of some of Africa’s foremost established and emerging artists. Patrons have included representatives of institutions such as the Tate Modern, Zeitz MOCAA, the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago and Centre Pompidou. In addition, the fair has spawned numerous satellite exhibitions and contributed greatly to Lagos’ looming reputation as an artistic and cultural hub in West Africa.
The theme of ART X Lagos is “Art in Life | Life through Art.”: a theme made especially poignant in the context of the untimely passing of the celebrated curator Bisi Silva, founder of Nigeria’s storied Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos, and ART X’s previous artistic director. In the New York Times’ obituary for Bisi Silva, Hannah O’Leary head of modern and contemporary African art at Sotheby’s in London called Mrs. Silva an international curator of unrivaled knowledge and vision who tirelessly promoted African artists to the world and brought the international art world to Africa.
According to the new artistic director Tayo Ogunbiyi, this year’s fair aims to spotlight the lives of the pioneers in the African contemporary and visual arts sector, “unpacking how the demands of a life in the visual arts can shape one’s perceptions of home and feelings of displacement.”
The fair is bigger and bolder, with a grander location at the Federal Palace on Victoria Island in Lagos. There are almost twice the number of gallery exhibitors of the previous year, with 56 artists from over 20 countries on the continent and in the diaspora. There is a section dedicated to Modern Art, the first ART X Lagos specifically commissioned work – by Emeka Ogboh – a performance art pavilion curated by Wura-Natasha Ogunji, and a photography project called “This Is Lagos”. Keynote speaker will be the incredible Kenyan painter, sculptor, film and performance artist Wangechi Mutu and the closing talk will honor the legacy and impact of Bisi Silva.