By Japhet Alakam
AT last, the planned maiden edition of the 1st African Art Auction byÂ Nike Art and Culture Foundation held last Saturday on the ground flour of the gallery at Lekki. The Nike organized art auction came in the heels of other auctions conducted by ArtHouse Contemporary and Tribes Art Gallery. The success of these auctions point to the fact that the Nigerian Visual Art Sub sector is finally keying into emerging secondary art market.
Despite the low turn out of invitees at the event , coupled with the fact that the auction took off about an hour behind schedule added with the failure of the appointed auctioneer in carrying out his duty, a situation that forced Prince Yemisi Shyllon the founder of OYASAF and one of the Patrons of the centre to take over the job, and he surprised everybody when he performed the duty of the auctioneer excellently.
The auction which witnessed the presence of few art patrons and artists was unique in many ways: first, it went down into history as the first auction that was done by an indigenous auctioneer and second, it remain the only auction in the country that has included photography in its auction items.
In all, the total sales was over six million for only 20 works out of the 140 works that were put up for sale. There were probably about 50 works bided that didnâ€™t come up to the reserve.
The highest work sold was lot 44, a piece by Ben Enwonwu Untitled Landscape 1970, oil on canvas.
It went for N1,650,000. It was followed by Ben Osaweâ€™s Untitled Sculpture 1971, Bronze and Images, oil on canvas by Bruce Onabrakpeya that went for N700,000.00 and N600,000.00 respectively.
Other works sold included works by Emmanuel Dudu, Nike and Tola, Rom Isichei, Jimoh Buraimoh etc. and pictures by Adolphus Opara. It was fun as the guest were treated with the best choice wine by the host, while the students of Nike Art Centre in Osogbo gorgeously dressed in their beautiful Adire clothes entertained the visitors with traditional dance.
The auction ended around 5.00 pm with another unique action by Mr Reuben Okundaye , the husband of Nike who as a true African man poured libation to the ancestors for a successful auction.
Commenting on the auction, Ms. Donnie Day Patriaca, the Business Manager of the centre said â€œwhile it was somewhat disappointing, itâ€™s really not bad for a first time show. Also, I think our timing on the show being just a week after Easter hurt the attendance, and the attendance was extremely low for the number of invites sent.
It was a great learning experience for all the gallery employees who had never had an auction, including Nike & Reuben, and it was a great learning experience for me in having auctions in Lagos. That which doesnâ€™t kill us makes us stronger and we will definitely be much wiser about timing and hiring the right person for auctioneer and the right printer.â€
Chief Frank Okonta, AGAN president commended Mrs Nike for all her efforts towards putting arts in a proper perspective. â€œI am one of those who like to see innovations. Many people are afraid to start something, but Nike is not. Look at the building she built for arts and today she has brought most of the artists and gallery owners together for her auction, I love what she is doing, she is a credible woman.â€
For the SNA chairman, Oliver Enwonwu, â€œI think it is a step in the right direction and I am very happy that we have a number of auctions going on in Nigeria. It is a good thing for arts because it gives more value to arts, it makes people to see the inherent values of arts as an investment potential. So, I think that in due time we will stabilize. Nike has done very well..â€
For Engr. Yemisi Shyllon â€œThis is her first auction. It is a learning process and am sure that the second auction will be better than this. The works that were packaged are okay. But in all, one should give kudos for a woman of substance who has made inroads into auction apart from the great inroad she has made in life.â€
For Nike,â€œtodayâ€™s event has really put me to know what to do next time. It is very good because if you donâ€™t start something you wont know where you are going.â€