Scramble for contemporary Art from Africa

Anyawu by Ben Enweonwu at the National Museum Lagos

Art house contemporary art auction ended Monday with “Anyawu” a 1955 work by Ben Enweonwu closing the evening with 54,000,000 naira breaking auction record of the most expensive piece ever sold in Nigerian auction. The piece which its original gracefully adorns the entrance of the National Museum of art Lagos is one of Enweonwu’s earliest pieces and still remains a landmark work in the history of his entire career.

Chike Okeke Agulu, a popular U.S based historian describes the piece in 2016:

“Anyanwu’s formal significance lies in its dramatic combination of movement and stasis, realism and abstraction, anthropomorphic and vegetal forms, grace and power. Though anyanwu literally means ‘the sun’ in the Igbo language, this bronze is of a 6ft 10in woman dressed in the royal regalia of the Bini people: a ‘chicken-beak’ headdress, heavy coral necklaces and bracelets. But nothing in Bini or Igbo traditional sculpture explains Anyanwu’s distinctive body. A Nefertiti-type neck – seen here in Anyanwu – is a clear indication of feminine beauty in both cultures, yet her skinny, near-emaciated limbs are reminiscent not so much of traditional representations of powerful female deities as modern-day haute-couture models.”

In the 1960s, the United Nations’ Anyanwu’ was commissioned by the Nigerian government, giving the work more prominence. The value of Enweonwu’s works have risen tremendously over the last decade. It would be recalled that in July of 2004, at the 10th anniversary of the death of the artist, 55 of his works were valued and insured for a Hundred million naira “100,000,000” .

Speaking to an eye witness of the auction mr Chukwuma Cowries Okoye, he said:

“It went well, there is hope for Nigerian Art, and with its demand internationally (for) most of the collectors are foreigners. (Even though) the harsh economy played down on the sales expectations” he concluded.

Proving his point;

Sotheby’s held its first auction of modern and contemporary African art on Tuesday, where 83 pieces by artists from Cameroon to South Africa sold for a total of nearly $4 million. The star of the sale was the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui’s sculpture made from discarded aluminum bottle caps and copper wire that went for about $950,000. (source NYT, May 20, 2017)

The Arthouse auction also sold an el Anatsui wood panel for 13,000,000 naira taking second place after Enweonwu.

We could also remember Ndjideka Akunyili Crossby’s work “The beautiful ones” sold at a whooping amount of 2.5 Million Pounds at Cristies in March.

crossby beautiful ones
The beautiful ones by Njideka Akunyili

CHIKA OKEKE-AGULU on May identified the beauty of this new improvement, he said:

“This is very good news for the African modernists who will benefit from the increased visibility. They were, some say, the postcolonial avant-garde, who set out to create new art for independent Africa during the mid-20th century. African contemporary artists have also moved beyond nationalism and are more likely to sound off about globalization and complex identities.”

But he also pointed out the implications of this new trend:

“The continent’s masses will be the biggest losers. They will be denied access to artworks that define the age of independence and symbolize the slow process of postcolonial recovery. That’s because whole countries in Africa cannot boast of a single art museum of any renown. On other continents, you might expect to see at least one public art museum in any city big enough to have a sports team. But good luck trying to find a museum in Lagos, one of the world’s largest cities, that displays the work of a big-name Nigerian artist. A child there is even less likely to learn of the art in the classroom.” (Source NYT)


These raises some questions; are Africans collectors afraid to invest in their own? And do you think it would be right for posterity to demand the return of these works to Africa after now?

In the middle of a plate- Things that inspired us.

“Every Child is an artist, but the problem is how to remain a child  once we grow up” Pablo Picasso.

You may have forgotten, quite an unfair world. You know the story of our artistic rise to masters was moulded by little things in and off the classroom environment. Half way down the line, we grew up. The sad thing about our growing up is not just our excessive grub for Money . No, its our forgetfulness, especially of where we are coming from. 

If we can remember how far we came then we must not forget the little things that inspired us. Before we knew the names of the big artists and masters that we quote as a source of inspiration we had other little things that kept us going.

Plates: I can remember getting so drawn to ceramic plates because of the beautiful paintings inside. I would most times find myself redrawing and copying them. Its unfortunate that most of the new glass and ceramic plates have less or no painted drawings in them anymore.

Awake – I’m not a witness but I was drawn to copying images from that book. Especially of animals and people in Paradise.

Textbooks- illustrations on textbooks was a bomber, it did the magic.

Cars- oh yea. Cars got us rolling. Most times drawing the da** thing with 6 or 8 tires. I wonder why that has still never been invented.

There are other little Inspirations, and its relative to our unique experiences.

Never forget.

5 things you should not say to an artist.

Things you should not say to an artist.
You probably have an artist friend and wondering why both of you don’t get along pretty well. You may have used any of these words mistakenly or you must be really bad at getting along with people. Either way, if you are trying to buy an artist’s heart, avoid these words.

  1. it’s not Fine.
    Yes, that sentence can sentence an artist to death. Naturally, every artist want to be appreciated for his works, no matter how bad the works are. More so, there is really no good or bad art. So next time you want to talk about an artist’s work, don’t use the word “Not Fine”. Some works are not fine but make for a good aesthetic quality. A good appraisal would help the artist to become better. P.s tell him its fine even when he doesn’t want to hear it, and watch the magic.

Continue reading “5 things you should not say to an artist.”

4 Jargons Artists use frequently.

Artists are simply complicated people. They switch on and off at anytime. Yes, its that bad. But they are the most lovable people around town, look around.  So if you have been around an artist a long time, you must really be getting used to these his unpredictable culture.

1. Untittled

Artists can be very lazy people. Yes. They are hardworking when it comes to creating and giving life to an idea, but goes all lumpy at the simple idea of naming their creation. And so they found a short cut; “Untitled”. A lot of work bears more untitled than works named. However, the negative aspect of this is that it makes the works harder to stick. Example, you can actually remember works like Da vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ and ‘Mona Lisa’, Picasso’s ‘The Meal’, Michelangelo’s ‘David’, Demas Nwoko’s ‘Adam and Eve’, Ben Enweonwu’s ‘Anyawu’, Damian Hirsts ‘For the love of God’ etc. It would also be noted that most of this masters have works titled “Untitled “. One question, How many untilled works can you remember?

Continue reading “4 Jargons Artists use frequently.”


VIC in partnership with Weave and co gallery sets for August show. Vision in clay is a new platform for artists who work with clay. It was founded in November of 2016 by Ace ceramists Ato Arinze in Lagos. According to him, its aim is to promote the art of ceramics and works of members who are drawn from all over the African Continent.

It would be noted that the award winning late ceramists Ladi Kwali graces the back of the Nigerian 20naira currency and one of the first artist to be immortalised that far. The new generation of potters have moved on to more sophisticated and highly creative approaches to clay manipulation.

In Nigeria universities, the specialization in ceramics is declining by the number and many who choose the path, have been in most cases, out of consequence. The group through its activities which includes: annual exhibitions, workshops, seminars and publications would renew new interest in pottery and clay sculptures among students and professionals alike. Inte

The Exhibition would be featuring 7 artists;

Chineneye Emelogu

May okafor

Nathalie Djakou Kassi

Afam Okwudili

Chris klay Ekuafeh

sheriff ojekunle

Ato Arinze.


Opening- Saturday August 5th, 2017.

Venue- Moorhouse Hotel, 1 Bankole Oki Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Exhibition runs till Thursday 17th August, 2017.

Art24now gathered that the group is open to both young and old, however it is your uniqueness and high quality work that would buy your ticket in. The group could be reached on their Facebook group “potters in town”. If you are or would be in Lagos by the 5th of August, 2017 there wouldn’t be any better “sightseeing” than art born from nothing but dust.



Free concert for world music Day.

Joyeuse Fête de la musique ! Happy World Music Day!
Tomorrow, Thursday the 22nd of June at 6pm, in partnership with Institut Français Nigéria, Aaf Lagos and Showgearonline, Alliance Française de Lagos will be hosting a unique free concert with French rapper Leeroy of the legendary Saïan Supa Crew, French DJ Aleqs Notal and renowned Nigerian percussionist Wura Samba at the Aaf Lagos, in Victoria Island.

If you are in Lagos Tomorrow, this is another chance to ease off the stress of the busy city.

Date: Thursday 22nd June


3b Isiola Oyekan close

Off Adeleke Adedoyin Street

Off Kofo Abayomi Street

Victoria Island, Lagos

Time: 6pm to 10pm

The 2017 Life in my city (LIMCAF) art competition.


Application is open for the 2017 limcaf art competition, and artist and art students in Nigeria are to apply.



-All artist who are not more than 35 years of age as at October 30th 2017.

-Artist must be studying or leaving in Nigeria for at least 5 years.



All medium are accepted.

Application process:

-All application must be submitted online

-An application fee of 1,000 should be paid to designated banks (see poster for full details)

-Download application form from or request it via email

-fill the form and submit at

Application fee:

1,000 naira


Overall winner- 500,000 naira

Best painting/mixed media/drawing-250,000 naira

Best sculpture/installation/ceramics- 250,000

Best graphics/multimedia/digital art/photography/video- 250,000

Best textile art-250,000

Other consolation prices worth of 1,000,000 naira


July 20th, 2017.

For further information

please call 08033328030 (Art director)

Or visit