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The women at the top of Lagos Art Scene
Lagos - Nigeria, is West Africa’s top art destination.
Feature 09 Nov 2021
Image via artxlagos website

Lagos – Nigeria, is West Africa’s top art destination. The sprawling mega-city is home to flourishing artists, gallerists and collectors, who are now making waves globally. It is the quintessential entrepreneurial African city, with its international connections, a diverse culture and so much happening simultaneously. Lagos is among the top ten of the world’s fastest-growing cities, which is reflected in it’s rapidly growing art scene. In recent years, Lagos’s contemporary art scene has gained global recognition, leading to a renewed interest in cultivating and supporting modern and contemporary art in the country. This global recognition was certainly helped by the founding of the ART X Lagos fair in 2016, the first commercial fair of its kind in West Africa. Since its debut, ART X Lagos has attracted over 31,000 local and international visitors to see the works of 300 artists drawn from 25 countries across Africa and the Diaspora. The fair, described by the Financial Times as “a reflection of Nigeria’s potential on the global scene”, has since become a cornerstone of the African art sector and has contributed significantly to the positioning of Lagos globally as a fast-emerging and exciting cultural hub.

Here we explore the female creative forces that are part of the growing Lagos Art Scene.

Tokini Peterside

Tokini Peterside is an entrepreneur and strategic advisor, dedicated to defining a new narrative of Africa through its culture and creative industry. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Peterside grew up between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. In 2016, Peterside founded ART X Lagos. During her career Peterside has received many highly esteemed recognitions’, including being named one of the 40 Under 40 in Africa by Apollo in 2020; one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company USA in 2019; and was featured in 2018 on the Quartz Africa Innovators list of the continent’s Top 30 pioneers. Her work has been featured in the Financial Times, CNN, the New York Times, Le Monde and Vogue, among others.

Polly Alakija 

Polly Alakija is a British muralist, artist and children’s book author. Born in Britain, she moved to Nigeria upon marrying her Nigerian husband. Polly’s work mainly focuses on Nigerian-themed concepts, and works in a wide variety of materials, genres and spaces. From studio-based work to working with communities, her work covers canvases, murals, book illustration and printmaking. Alakija’s art can be found on the walls of private and corporate collectors, on the sides of streets and on vehicles. She now works from her studio in Lagos.

Jumoke Sanwo

Jumoke Sanwo is a self-taught, lens based, visual storyteller and cultural interlocutor and the creative director of Revolving Art Incubator, an alternative art space established in 2016. Her medium of artistic expression includes photography, video art and virtual reality. Juno’s work engages Afro-aesthetic concerns, while querying pre-existing notion of self and identity.

Nike Davies-Ogundaye

Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is a batik and Adire textile designer. Nike was brought up amidst the traditional weaving and dyeing as practiced of her hometown in North-Central Nigeria, which dominated her informal training, inspired by her parents and great grandmother who were musicians and craftspeople. Over the past twenty years, she has given workshops on traditional Nigerian textiles to audiences in the United States and Europe. She had her first solo exhibition at the Goethe Institute, Lagos in 1968. Nike is the founder and director of four art centers that offer free training to over 150 young artists in visual, musical and performing arts, comprising more than 7,000 artworks. Nike strives to improve lives of disadvantaged women in Nigeria through art. 

Ugoma Adegoke

Ugoma Adegoke is a creative entrepreneur, gallerist, multi-arts curator and the founding director of BLOOM Art, Lagos. She runs a vibrant art salon in Lagos, where she deals in art and hosts private exhibitions and artist talks which are attended by the country’s most important art collectors, patrons, diplomats and scholars. Furthermore, she directs the workings of the award-winning design brand, Zebra Living, is the festival director of Lights Camera Africa Film Festival and the producer of the annual WOMAN RISING Music Concert & Arts Weekender.

Peju Layiwola

Peju Layiwola is an art Historian and visual artist who works in a variety of media and genre. She is listed as a “21-st Century Avant-Garde” in the book Art Cities of the Future published by Phaidon Press. She is currently a Professor of Art and Art history at the University of Lagosand has been described as a “multi-talented artist.”

Bukola Oyebode

Bukola Oyebode is the founder and lead editor at The Sole Adventurer. After studying English language and literature at Lagos State University, and working in a gallery in the Nigerian capital, Bukolaset up The Sole Adventurer in 2015, which was initially a blog about contemporary Nigerian art, that went on to become a magazine in 2018. Published online and in special print editions, it now covers art from across Africa and the diaspora. Oyebode’s other ventures include the Art Forum Africa, held in 2015 and 2016, and the TSA Art Writing Masterclass. In 2020 she was recognised in ‘Apollo 40 Under 40 Africa’ .

Kavita Chellaram

In 2007, Indian-born, London-educated, now Lagos based art collector Kavita Chellaram founded Arthouse Contemporary, an auction house based in Lagos that focuses on modern and contemporary art from West Africa. Her work promoting the arts in Africa has led to the global recognition of numerous modern African masters, including Ben Enwonwu, Kolade Oshinowo, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Ablade Glover, Yusuf Grillo and Uche Okeke. Last August, Chellaram also founded a gallery in Lagos called Kó, which is mainly devoted to the modernist artists she loves. Chellaram has been on the African art acquisition committee of Tate Modern since 2011, having previously also served as a trustee of the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Wura Natasha Ogunji

Wura Natasha Ogunji is an American-Nigerian visual artist and performer. For many years she divided her time between Austin, Texas, and Lagos, Nigeria. She is now settled in Lagos, where she opened The Treehouse, an independent exhibition space in the Ikoyi district, in 2018.  Her works include drawings hand-stitched into tracing paper, videos and public performances. Her art is deeply inspired by the daily interactions and frequencies that occur in Lagos.

Peju Alatise

Lagos born, Péju Alatise is an interdisciplinary artist, architect and author of two novels, she has been practising as an independent studio artist in Nigeria since 1998. Péju has also been an influential voice on the Child Not Bride campaign in Nigeria, she is also the founder of the ANAI Foundation – a non-profit foundation dedicated to the development of visual arts in Nigeria, offering sponsored training programs for artists. Péju is a fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and the 2017 winner of the FNB Art Prize in Johannesburg. Her work was exhibited at the 57th Venice Biennale as well as in numerous exhibitions in New York, Florence, Morocco and elsewhere..

If you want to find out more about the ART X Lagos, West Africa’s premier international art fair visit their website : artxlagos.com

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