Writings of the general word's body

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Record N13.5m for Ben Enwonwu at Lagos auction

Was at the auction preview exhibition at Terra Kulture auction on Tuesday, May 3 and also in the hall was none other than Jossy Ajiboye (above), legendary cartoonist of Daily Times fame. Bolanle Austen-Peters introduced us. It was a lovely afternoon. I'd earlier been to Quintessence to catch the preview of Alimi Adewale's forthcoming exhibition, 'Sublime'. Had an interesting chat with the artist and Quintessence curator Moses Ohiomokhare. Then at Terra Kulture, spent some time viewing the lots and chatting with Mr. Ajiboye, who can hold a conversation.

He was not at last night's auction, where the big story was this ink on paper work, 'Untitled' (1980) from the Dance Series by Ben Enwonwu, which broke its estimate of 8 to 9 million naira to be sold to a Nigerian female bidder for N13.5millon, shattering the previous Lagos record for a Bruce Onobrakepa piece.

The Enwonwu bidder kept her cool as the hall applauded. By my count, she carted off another 8 pieces by the end of bidding, including the following:

  • 'Dance to Enchanting Song Panel IX' by Bruce Onobrakpeya (N800,000).

  • 'Face to Face' by Damola Adepoju (N200,000).

  • 'Emperor Sundiatta's Daughter' by Moyo Ogundipe (N800,000).

  • 'Dancer' by Nyemike Onwuka (N650.000).

  • 'Divine Visitation' by Kolade Oshinowo (N2.2m).

  • 'Texture Textile Feeling' by Ndidi Dike (N1m).

  • 'Olumo Rock Abeokuta' by Ufuoma Onobrakpeya (N350.000).

Among her haul, Jossy Ajiboye's 'Arugba', sold for N350,000. Prices will be adjusted upwards slightly when the Buyer's premium is added by the auction complany.

Jossy Ajiboye photo by MW.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Auction Season

It's auction season in Lagos, with over 200 art pieces by some of the most significant visual artists this side of the hemisphere going under the hammer in major auctions by Terra Kulture and ArtHouse Contemporary in the next few days.

Left is 'Face' by Kainebi Osahenye, one of 113 pieces of modern and contemporary African art on auction at Terra Kulture tomorrow. Leading collector, Yemisi Shyllon of OYASAF, is the auctioneer.

Preview exhibition began yesterday at the venue, perhaps the premier arts centre in Lagos. Preview exhibition continues all of today, right up to 1pm tomorrow.
View all 113 lots online.

Terra Kulture Auction: 5pm, Wednesday May 4 - Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Here's 'Home Sweet Home' by Abiodun Olaku, one of 100 lots set to go to the highest bidder in ArtHouse Contemporary's sixth auction. Demas Nwoko's 'The Wise Man' wood sculpture went for a whopping N9 million at their last auction, in November 2010. There was a hush in the hall as the bidding went up to 6m, 7m, 8m - and when the hammer went down, we just had to clap. Nwoko himself was there, and showed no reaction as far as I could see. All in a day's work to him I guess.

Preview exhibition for the latest ArtHouse Contemporary Auction is Civic Centre, Lagos on May 6 to 8. Preview extends to 10am and goes on till 1pm on May 9, the auction date. See the lots online.

ArtHouse Contemporary Auction: 6pm, Monday May 9 - Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Ehikhamenor's 'Entrances & Exits' exhibition

Artist Statement by Victor Ehikhamenor on his new solo exhibition 'Entrances & Exits: In Search of Not Forgetting' - opening at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos on Saturday:

Entrances and exits: A personal journey

In December of 2010, I left Lagos for a week to go back to my village, the scenes of my childhood and my ‘primary colours’, with the sole purpose of discovering what has influenced my art over the years. Some things I could pull from memory, but there were many I had forgotten or never really experienced. With a keen eye and a camera, I set to work; and what I discovered about my heritage and ancestral home was shocking to me. Until then, I did not realise that, over the decades of my art practice, I have unconsciously been feeding off of what was always there as part of my everyday life when I was growing up, which I never paid much attention to. The numerous shrine walls in neighbouring villages, the painted mud walls of my grandmothers, my uncles’ decorated rooms and other villagers’ walls were all beaming with different kinds of art. I photographed as many as possible, because it was obvious that many people no longer care about these ‘primitive and pagan’ arts.

With some of the walls and art already gone, and a very few left, I set to work on what remained. Some of the bold use of earth tone colours on walls reminded me of Mark Rothko’s large canvases. The valour with which colours, patterns and designs were engraved or drawn on walls, doors and other surfaces, fueled my drawings with chalks on the bare, dilapidated walls. Because I considered the chalk on wall drawings temporary, I decided to photograph them for posterity; and perhaps in so doing, I could show the world things that may not ordinarily be seen in their natural state.

I thought I would stop at the drawings on walls and doorways. However, I found myself thinking about the history behind the walls and the doors I drew on in the village, and so I decided to extend the experience to my studio in Lagos. People that have come and gone in my life over time through the passageways kept playing in my memory. My grandmothers, my father and many of my uncles that have left, came alive again. The doors I rejuvenated through art, were the same ones they traversed while alive. I began to look at the duality of the doorway, a passageway for entry and exit, life and death, night and day. Life itself is full of doors, whether real or imagined. I am yet to see any human that hasn’t gone through a door. Whatever we do when we enter or exit from any door in life is what shapes our lives as human on earth.

It is also pertinent to say that the works in Entrances and Exits go beyond physical doors; they signify transitions in life. In between the comings and goings, memories are built constantly. Memories of how we move from one phase of life to another, from childhood to adulthood, boy to man, girl to woman, life to death etc. The events that orchestrate these transitions are mystical, not physical and sometimes invisible, yet they manifest as some kind of doors.

All materials used in producing these paintings and drawings are physically cut in the shape of doors, in order to reveal another side of the same work. This is symbolic of the openings and closings that are associated with doors. Birth and death have doorways, be it a woman’s birth canal or the gaping grave on the earth.

Victor Ehikhamenor
Lagos, May 2011

It's been 2 years since Ehikhamenor's first exhibition on return to Nigeria. Here below is a video of my interview with him on Mirrors & Mirages which opened at Terra Kulture in Lagos on May 24, 2009.

  • Entrances & Exits: In Search of Not Forgetting is at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos from Saturday May 7 to May 28.