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Peter Areh: 1972- 2009

By McPhilips Nwachukwu
One thing every young man would hate to do would be to write a tribute  about the death of another young man, more so, at a time, when the active life of that  deceased  young man is still half spent.


So do I feel today, as I write this tribute of tears for my friend, a friend  of the arts, a gallerist , art business man and consultant, Peter Areh, who fell victim of the murderous knife of  yet to be  apprehended seven armed robbers or assassins?

Peter Areh,  former banker turned gallery owner was the Chief Executive Officer of  Pendulum Gallery, sited  in the serene suburb of Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos.

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Significantly, the entrance of  Areh and his Pendulum outfit into the art and gallery space of Nigerian visual art scene was one of the transformative  factors that redefined the business of visual art in Nigeria.

Prior before his coming on board  in 1999, with the exception of perhaps, Chike Nwagbo’s Nimbus Gallery at Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Quintessence Gallery , Falomo Shopping Complex and Didi Museum, Akin Adesokan Street , Victoria Island, the gallery space was only known to be a place where artists could go and hang their works and waited for it to  run for a few days or weeks in the name of exhibitions.

Little did many people know that one can professionally engage the business of art acquistion and marketing with the same professional and business bent intensity that will still classify one as some business man doing some serious work. Areh was one of the very best to introducing teeming young Nigerian investors into the potentials and treasures of art business..

When Areh, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka trained Accountant arrived in the scene after a tutelage at the Nwagbo’s Nimbus Gallery, and equipped with his background in accountancy and banking, he   approached the business of art with a new candour and definition.

With all due respect, Areh would be seen as belonging to the class of art cum culture advocates in the country, who did not only advocate for a third tier market for the visual arts;  but also  fought gallantly to see that Nigerian visual art really moved to the third tier market economy.

This intercessory role of Areh would be seen in the several art auctions, which he helped to pioneer for Nigerian artists either in Nigeria or abroad.

The last of that aspect of his artistic intervention was the April, 2009 outing, which he patterned with Access Bank to have important Nigerian artists including Ben Enweonwu, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Uche Okeke, El Anatusi, Nnenna Okore, Jimoh Braimoh among other to feature in the widely advertised art auction organized in the UK by Bonhams.

In the course of his career as a collector, art manager and gallery operator, he beamed the searchlight of his visual business across all broad range of visual compositions: his  treasures ranged from traditional crafts to modern sculptors and paintings.

He also  worked with a wide range of artists: male and female: old and young and in doing all these, he relegated  ethnicism to the background.
Besides gallery businness, he also related with a number of organizations in his adventurous bid to see to the promotion of  Nigeria art.

He assiduously worked with the Nigerian chapter of Pan African Circle of Artists( PACA) on a number of projects geared towards the promotion of Nigerian art and artists.

One significant incident, which I remember very clearly was in 2003, when Peter himself, collaborating with PACA would personally drive me along with other culture journalists to  NIMO, the  country home of Uche Okeke in Anambra State to cover the 70th birthday of that octogenarian artist, whose professional intervention and  innovative experimentations gave the institution of art scholarship at the  University of Nigeria , Nsukka a definition and character.

That collaborative project resulted in the publication of a book of essays on the life and times of Uche Okeke titled, The  Triumphs of Asele edited by polyvalent artist and scholar, Kyrdz Ikwuemesi and assisted by Emeka Agbayi and Uche Ene Orji.

A number of times, Peter Areh’s led Pendulum Gallery partnered with high profile Lagos Business School to host exhibition of works of Nigerian artists.

Peter was a humble man. Soft spoken and innovatively  creative.

Within the short time he lived, the art community knew he was here: he was always at the scene and behind, all for arts: he was a thorough good soul. God grant him peace.


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