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Lagos agog, as Art Expo begins

By MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU & BENJAMIN NJOKU

Yesterday at the MUSON Centre , Lagos, the Nigerian art community, again witnessed a flurry of activities as the 3rd edition of the Nigerian International Art Expo kicked off in earnest.

The Art Expo, Nigeria which got the franchise to organise the expo modelled after the art expo of New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Berlin, is bracing  up to reposition the global promotion and marketing of modern Nigerian art.

Addressing the press last weekend, ahead of the opening of the  expo, which keeps the busy cultural climate of Lagos busy till August 26, at the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Lagos,  Acting Director-General, National Gallery of Art(NGA), Alhaji Abdullahi S. Muku said, this year’s edition  promises to be bigger as it features seminars, talks and the presentation of papers by renowned art scholars on issues concerning the visual arts in the country.

The seminar, which is hoped to involve the media especially art reporters/presenters, writers and critics, according to the NGA boss, will deliberate on how art and culture journalists should better report issues on visual arts and how to effectively communicate to ordinary readers in the society. Also, papers from art critics/writers will be presented with other contributions from seasoned art journalists and editors. Other side attractions include discussions on the role of banking sector in the development of the visual arts sector.

Recalling that the expo now renamed International Art Expo, Nigeria, was established in conformity to the Public Private Partnership(PPP) initiative of the Federal Government, Alhaji Muku expressed optimism that the art expo is on course to generate the much needed global interest in the nation’s visual art sector not only because of the tourism potential, but also, because it serves as a means of repositioning the visual arts sector as a catalyst for the economic growth of the country. The expo is  yearly organised in collaboration with Art Galleries Association of Nigeria(AGAN)

“The NGA conceptualized this programme to be an annual event for the visual art sector. Every year in the month of August, private galleries within and outside the shores of the country bring together the best of modern works of arts, and display them professionally for public viewing and appreciation. The Art expo is intended to be a big market for the visual artists and art community in
Nigeria.” he sated.

Speaking at the ocassion,Oliver Enwonwu, Publicity Secretary, AGAN added that  in commemoration of the nation’s 50th independence anniversary, this year’s edition is expected to showcase over 400 works from 34 galleries, with each gallery presenting its own themes.

“ The NGA and AGAN partnership on the international Art Expo continues to increase the visibility and appreciation of modern and contemporary art while encouraging youth empowerment and national development.” he said.

According to Mr Simeon Ikpakronyi, Acting Director, Research and Education, NGA, this year’s edition will lay emphasis on art promotion and patronage in Nigeria.

He further stressed that the topic is chosen at this time to enable participants assess how much the  nation has achieved in the areas of visual art promotion and patronage since the inception of modern Nigerian art, and particularly from independence till date.

“Note that the anniversary celebration calls for re-assessment from every fields of endeavour. In this regard, the visual art sector cannot be an exception.” He said.

Already out of the 36 foreign galleries invited to be part of this year’s edition, according to Mr Ikpakronyi, only six of them have indicated interest to attend the art fair.

Also, Mr. Ikpakronyi hinted that, this year’s edition will feature Kenyan Maggie Onikan, General Manager of African Colours, who will be giving a lecture on Artist-Gallery Relationship, billed to hold on 28th of August at the same venue. For Ikpakronyi, this year’s presentation will confirm how much Nigerian art has progressed in all ramifications.

Continuing he added that ,“Unlike the previous editions, and as common with other art fairs in other parts of the world, this edition is different with each gallery presenting its own theme. This is deliberately organised to mark Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary, hence it is tagged special edition. Themes packaged for the presentation are quite interesting, hence the presentation is going to be excellent.”

‘Curatorial assignment does not only involve the collection, arrangement and display of physical art works for the public to view and appreciate, it also involves making the public comprehend the images they view. The information provided, particularly in the brochure, therefore should help visual art exhibition. We have taken all these into consideration towards the presentation.”

“In the two previous editions, emphasis was laid on the exhibition brochures,

taking into consideration its essential value after the exhibition. The brochures were not photo albums as it often considered to be, because efforts were made to provide useful information to enable people to comprehend the images and to ensure that they will be useful also for the teaching of art in schools as well as for stakeholders in the sector. This idea, usually is to use publication of this nature to provide necessary information which will serve as documentation for  use.”


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