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Knocks and kudos for 1st AGAN ArtExpo Awards

By Japhet Alakam

Two issues cropped up last week during the successful hosting of the first Artexpo award put together by the Art Gallery Owners Association of Nigeria (AGAN).

The award tagged ArtExpo Awards which according to the organisers was put together as a way of appreciating the contributions of its patrons, collectors and sponsors of visual arts for their unfailing patronage and funding was held at Terra Kulture, Tiamuyi Savage Street, Victoria Island .

In spite of the few lapses from the side of the organisers, the event brought together many art collectors, patrons and art journalists. Among them were an avid art collector, Engineer Yemisi Shyllon who chaired the event with another art patron and convener of the Annual Yusuf Grillo Art lecture, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi who was the Special Guest of Honour.

The event which could be regarded as another landmark programme in the the country’s contemporary art scene was part of efforts put in place by AGAN to inject new ideas into the affairs of the visual art sector and also to regain the confidence of the corporate sector and to justify the call for public private partnership of the Federal Government.

The event lived up to its bidding as it demonstrated that the organisation can successfully host such award without the financial backing of their major sponsors, the National Gallery of Art (NGA).

L-R, Chief Sammy Olagbanju, Engr. Yemisi Shyllon, Pricess Iyase Odozi, Chief Mrs. Nike Davies Okundayo and Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi cutting the cake at the occasion.

Some avoidable flaws

Despite the relative success, which the event recorded, it however suffered from some aviodable flaws.

For instance, the awards were not well categorized as people who were not supposed to be in certain categories were put there, the nature of the screening and the voting by the artists that eventually produced the winners was not done the right way as the outcome of the voting reflected artists bond ‘with some individuals closed to them.

It is the view of this reporter that the use of an independent panel and voters would have served better. That notwithstanding, the award was another pass mark for the body as there are indications that they are ready to learn from the shortcomings of this inaugural outing.

The award proper was divided into three groups that covered people/organisations ranging from media, print, artist of the year, Bank of the year, Patron of the year etc and in all, 28 awards were given out to deserving winners who emerged after rigorous screening of nominees and voting by the artist.

Among the winners were, Chief Mrs. Nike Davies Okundayo who won the Art Dealer of the year and Art Foundation of the year, GT Bank won the Financial Institution of the Year, Patron of the year went to Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, SNA Lagos Chapter won the Art Organisation of the Year, Guardian won the Newspaper of the Year, while Jahman Anikulapo and Tajudeen Sowole went home with the Art Editor of the Year and Art Writer of the Year respectively among others.

Earlier in his opening remarks, AGAN Chairman, Chief Frank Okonta who just came back from a medical trip oversea said “I am very honoured and happy that all of you are here for the special award.”

Thereafter he presented the special art appreciation certificate to Messrs Sammy Olagbanju, Rasheed Gbadamosi and Mike Odua for their patronage of arts for years . In his remarks, the chairman of the occasion, who incidentally won the Art Expo award for Collector of the year, Engr. Shyllon said that he felt highly honoured to be given the award and added that “the award marks the recognition of the journey I began since 1975 as a student when art has no value, but now art has become something of great wealth.”

He pointed out that the only area one can contribute to the development of the country is through art as the country is weak in other areas like technology and industry.

Another interesting highlights of the event was a motivational speech by Arts of Arts management expert, Mr Segun Lawal on the topic, Economic Benefits of Arts Patronage.

In his speech, Lawal pointed out that Nigeria has become a force to be reckoned with in the global art market but observed that the problem of poor management has robbed her of all benefits. “We have great artists with good works but they are poorly managed.

Art is the only language of politics and economics, so the artists should be managed and marketed so that the art industry will have a future.” He said.


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