ART X Lagos Returns for its Eighth Edition with the Theme ‘The Dialogue’

Art X Lagos 1

ART X Lagos, the esteemed international art fair in West Africa, is elated to unveil its much-anticipated eighth edition, set to captivate art enthusiasts from November 2 to 5, 2023. This year’s installment features a multifaceted program with the theme ‘The Dialogue.’

‘The Dialogue’ seeks to encourage audiences to pause and engage in meaningful conversations, inspiring one another through art, against the backdrop of the myriad challenges confronting Nigeria, political and socio-economic difficulties across Africa, and globally. This theme aims to spark reflection, dialogue, discussion, and negotiation, envisioning ways to transcend contemporary dilemmas and reimagine the present.

The fair will explore the potential of storytelling to redefine our perspectives and encourage us to contemplate the world and our place within it. In a year marked by adversity, ART X Lagos is focusing on fostering dialogue and community engagement, inviting audiences to voice their concerns and thoughts regarding the pressing issues not only in Nigeria but across the continent and the world. ‘The Dialogue’ will blur the lines between low and high art, popular culture and fine art, objects and narratives, seamlessly blending cinema, literature, and visual culture into a harmonious program at the heart of the fair.

Ten prominent exhibitors have been meticulously selected to join this meaningful conversation, each contributing to the vibrant visual arts landscape across Africa and the Diaspora in their unique way. The exhibitors include Afriart Gallery (Uganda), Alexis Galleries (Nigeria), Galerie MAM (Cameroon), Gallery 1957 (Ghana), kó art space (Nigeria), Nike Art Gallery (Nigeria), O’DA Art Gallery (Nigeria), SMO Contemporary Art (Nigeria), Tiwani Contemporary (UK/Nigeria), and Wunika Mukan Gallery (Nigeria). This unique experience will foster deeper connections between gallerists, artists, collectors, and fairgoers, highlighting the pivotal role of artists and gallerists in shaping narratives.

The fair will kick off with a special exhibition titled ‘Writing With…’ curated by Missla Libsekal, focusing on the career of renowned sculptor and printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya. With a career spanning six decades, Onobrakpeya is recognized as one of the founding figures of modern art in Nigeria. The exhibition will delve into his work, which retrieves and reinterprets texts, transforming them into modern visual art. It will explore the artist’s connection with key African literary figures such as Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi, and Amos Tutuola.

Another exhibition curated by Libsekal, ‘Graphic Stories,’ offers a retrospective look at illustrations in mass media, from their early appearance in Nigeria during the 1940s to the 1980s. This exhibition will reveal the ingenuity and approaches used by cartoonists to provide social commentary and critique everyday life in Nigeria.

Guest curators will present special installations, such as MOWAA (the Museum of West African Art, Edo), inviting the ART X Lagos audience to engage directly with the themes to be explored in the upcoming Nigeria Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2024. MOWAA aims to capture the memories, nostalgias, ideas, and perspectives of Nigerians, encouraging them to reminisce about the different Nigerias they have witnessed.

Multidisciplinary artist Dennis Osadebe’s ‘Passing / Building / Victory’ explores the significance of teamwork, not only in sports but in all aspects of life. ‘The Hands That Remain,’ an emotive installation by Papa Omotayo and Max Kalaiwo, seeks to archive the stories of those left behind in the ongoing process of building a home, following decades of emigration from the continent by Nigerians and Africans.

Debuting in 2023, ART X Cinema will present a screening program of artists’ films and documentaries that explore how artists continue to disrupt, imagine, and reinvent writing, making visible emerging narratives. Inspired by Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, the program will feature artists and filmmakers such as Sammy Baloji, Meriem Bennani, Jihan El-Tahri, Binelde Hyrcan, Onyeka Igwe, Goddy Leye, Ibrahim Mahama, Betelhem Makonnen, Zen Marie, Fatimah Tuggar, Ezra Wube, and more.

Adding depth to the conversation at ART X Lagos, the fair’s discussion series, ART X Talks, will feature a roster of speakers anchored by Bruce Onobrakpeya and Ibrahim Mahama. Mahama, the artist and founder of The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (Tamale, Ghana), will delve into the ideas and ethics underpinning his work, including the transformation of art from commodity to gift.

ART X Live!, the unique live music and art experience, returns in 2023. It will feature the multi-hyphenate musicians Tay Iwar and Azekel in a night of exceptional musical storytelling, curated by Lanre Masha and Ayo Lawson.

Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, Founder & CEO of ART X Collective, highlighted the significance of the fair in these challenging times. She emphasized the fair’s commitment to fostering dialogue, encouraging learning, questioning, and inspiring contributions to shape a desired society for the present and future generations. The fair aims to redefine the boundaries of what an art fair can be, adapting it to the unique context of a city like Lagos.

ART X Lagos 2023 will also feature the return of the fair’s developmental platforms designed to promote connections and celebrate African artistry. Art Across Borders, a collaboration with Afreximbank, will present its third volume, showcasing six artists from diverse corners of Africa and the Caribbean. The Development Forum will provide emerging art practitioners with insights on building and advancing their careers within the industry.

The Access ART X Prize, a prestigious award for early-career artists from across Africa and its Diaspora in partnership with Access Holdings/Access Bank, will present a duo exhibition curated by Jumoke Sanwo featuring its 2022 winners – Dafe Oboro (Nigeria Prizewinner) and Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński (Africa/Diaspora Prizewinner). The Access ART X Prize 2023 winners will undergo residencies at Gasworks London and Yinka Shonibare’s G.A.S. Foundation in Lagos, respectively, with exhibitions at the ART X Lagos fair in 2024, supported by grants of $10,000 each for their exhibitions.

ART X Lagos 2023 is scheduled to take place from November 2 to 5 at The Federal Palace, Victoria Island, Lagos. The fair will commence with a private Collectors’ Preview on Thursday, November 2nd, followed by the VIP Preview on Friday, November 3rd. It will be open to the public on Saturday, November 4th and Sunday, November 5th, 2023, and virtual audiences can also engage with the fair on Artsy.

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