By Emmanuel Akintade
The Miniature Art Fair Lagos, scheduled to hold from April 8-10, 2023 at the Mega Plaza Carpark, 19 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, is Nigeria’s largest exhibition of portable artworks. The 4th edition of the fair, which opens in April, is a reiteration of its long-term commitment to making art accessible to everyone. The fair will showcase the latest works of miniature art by established and emerging artists working within the Nigerian art ecosystem and beyond.
The fair has become a leading brand in the small art segment of the burgeoning Nigerian art market, a departure from the art scene dominated by the craze for large-sized works. Beyond the matter of size, another importance of the fair is that it seeks to introduce established and emerging generations of local and global art dealers and collectors to become aware of the wide range of innovative art represented in this annual show.
The progress that has been made from its inception in 2018 to date is that the Miniature Art Fair has engendered a greater awareness among artists, collectors and art enthusiasts in Nigeria of the treasure and metaphorical importance embedded in this genre of art. Appreciation and sales are increasing as more stakeholders’ interests are ramping up. Our network of interested established and upcoming artists has quadrupled with the prospect of more artists joining the movement.
The evolution of the fair over the years has led to the development of more meaningful connections as it relates to the democratization of art patronage and the exchanges between Nigerian artists (Africa) and artists in other continents like Europe, America and Asia. The fair is also initiating educationally and historically relevant contexts towards the development of Nigerian art. To this end, an artist talk titled “Presentation of art, storage and cataloguing,” will be presented by the renowned art scholar Kunle Adeyemi, MFA, PhD, FSNA.
Some artists whose works will headline the 2023 edition of the fair include Prof Bruce Onobrakpeya, Chief (Mrs.) Nike Monica Davies-Okundayo, Tola Wewe, Jerry Buhari, Duke Asidere and Dr Kenneth Njoku.
In 2021, the fair transitioned to the virtual space. In a sense, this brought about increased participation in the events. This format continues this year with the promise of even more diverse participation of artists and audiences. It will present a plethora of choices for collectors.
For the first time, since its inception, the two organizing galleries will have separate booths. According to Adeolu of Ogrikan gallery, “the artworks that will be on display span artworks classified under the traditional and modern art genres, naturalistic and abstract art forms. We also have artworks made with found objects, discarded objects such as works made from aluminum cans and pieces of fabrics.”
Speaking about the fair, Professor Jerry Buhari, a well-known proponent of miniature art, noted that “Art fairs and exhibitions in Nigeria are accompanied by large-sized artworks and large spaces. They present us with a certain air of intimidating cultural arrogance. But on the other hand, the beauty of miniature works, by their size, appeals to the individual on a quiet, deep and personal dialogue.” Based on this trajectory, the miniature art fare fills a void that helps to complete the circle.
On the journey so far, Femi Williams, the co-host of the fair and the CEO of Iwalewa Gallery of Art, noted that “the 2023 Miniature Art Fair will be a huge success, considering what has been put in place for its organization.” He thanked the artists who will be showcasing their incredible talent and skill in creating such beautiful miniature works of art.