UGOMA ADEGOKE, trained as an economist and corporate finance professional, co-founded Lights Camera Africa. Film Festival. Today she is a creative entrepreneur and foremost cultural curator. Ugoma is a community builder, adventurer, and creative force. She is the founding director and chief curator of BLOOM Art, through which she has curated and produced art exhibitions with the most exciting and accomplished visual artists, including Muraina Oyelami, Rom Isichei, Gerald Chukwuma, Uchay Joel Chima, Lemi Ghariokwu, Tony Nsofor, Gbenga Offo, Victor Ehikhamenor, Ibe Ananaba, Jumoke Sanwo, Marcia Kure and Olu Ajayi. In this interview with BusinessDay Weekender, she discusses her recent collaboration as the curator of the Coronation art gallery.
What makes Aig Imoukhuede unique as a collector?
What makes Aig Imoukhuede unique as a collector is, at least from my very from my experience with him, which has spanned a few years, his highly keen eye. He’s a very, very bold sense of what he considers to be beautiful and what he considers an effort. It’s like EagleEye precision. I think this makes him unique. Because of course, knowing him personally, not just in the current function of, of his, his, of working with him on to art, but through art, and through his collection, you can tell about him. And most collections reveal the personality, and this is a trick that I have come on, come around to know, people collect themselves. And people collect the way they conduct themselves. And so when you look at everything as a melange, you look at the entire pieces as a collection. It tells you a bit about the collector. And as I said, it’s representative of EagleEye’s focus, a very determined and clear view of what one considers to be beautiful, what wasn’t supposed to be effort, and what one believes to be worth celebrating because he’s about celebrating excellence. And he’s about, you know, assisting and enabling good stories and practices to be not just told but also sustained and celebrated. I think this makes him very exciting. And also one thing that I find unique is that he’s also very fluid with his errors. You know, he’s, he collects wide. He’s very democratic about how he collects, from age to age. I think this is amazing.
What inspired the collection with Coronation?
The Coronation collection is inspired really by the personality, politics, and philosophy of the collector, Aig Imoukhuede who was so kind to lend us excerpts of his long, long, nurtured, and vast collection, which spans artists from all over the continent and the world and spans eras of art history from antiquities to modern modernism and to now the contemporary time. I believe it’s inspired mainly through, as I said, his interests, his philosophies, his position, and his experiences, which is what most collections reflect. This is a passion-based collection and a purpose-built purpose-based collection.
Many perceive the art to be solely for the ultra-wealthy. How can we democratize access to art and collecting?
I was called to serve. I work as an independent curator and proudly as the Coronation consultant curator. Let me say that every curator is looking for a dream collector or artist to work with. In this case, the principle of Coronation, Aig Imoukhuede has built an impressive and inspiring collection over decades, reached out to me to assist with contextualizing the collection and contextualizing the plans for the group as it makes its visual expressions and help to educate the broader ecosystem of budding art enthusiasts and even novices. So it’s a perfect place for me to express that shared passion that I have with the collector. And the, you know, essentially the principle of this entire project, the gallery, the collection, and the exhibition. It’s more honor and a dream come true to curate alongside a visionary and determined collector as far as the things he wants to say and how he wants to tell them through his art.
How can the public interact with the exhibition?
The public can interact with the exhibition. Of course, by appointment, we have a reception desk, which welcomes our staff and our clients. People with pre- booked appointments will be received and toured through the exhibition. We intend to have a series of exhibitions each year. So the coronation gallery will be a vibrant and active platform for the propagation of art interest, art appreciation, and art development. Hopefully, it will give the feeling of much more accessibility to a space or a habit or hobby that most people tend to associate with being inaccessible. So the public can contact us via our front desk over email or website and book appointments via the curator and the facilities team at Coronation, and they can also which is very proud of this innovation. The public can also interact with the exhibition virtually. There’s a virtual room and virtual tour on a website, which gives you the illusion of being physically in the room’s spirit. So virtual reality technology that we’ve used to give people who are locally accessible and locally present and able to attend the exhibition, but people who are traveling people who are far away can log on to the website and visit our virtual gallery.
Do you have any advice for African artists struggling to get their work noticed?
I would give the same advice I would give to any professional; any professional trying to make a success of their work their vocation, must live by elementary principles. The first is fully understanding why you want to do the work you want to do. Once you’ve connected with that reason, why is to commit completely, commit entirely to knowledge, to learning, be perceived to be persevering, collaborate, and devote yourself to constructive criticism, which may help you grow. Don’t take things personally and work hard, work very, very hard. The art world is very glamorous, and it looks gleaming. Many people sometimes misconstrue this to think that it’s all fun and games, but it’s gruesome. It’s gruesome work to create, present, curate, and even collect. So, in summary, you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. And follow through. Learn, work hard, and see collaborations where you can be resilient and just work hard and expect good things.
What inspired you to take on the role of curator for this exhibition?
The correlation gallery is precisely the kind of intervention that more and more organizations and individuals, and institutions can make to democratize access to art. And, of course, it’s the access to art and the interest in art and the understanding of art, and the potential to fall in love with the art that can lead to the last time that we all know as collecting. So making it accessible, creating multiple opportunities or multiple platforms where people can engage and see and wonder and ask questions and be curious in a safe space, nonthreatening or nonintimidating space. These are the efforts that can be made to democratize access to art; I have a full view, which is that to love art, is the most important thing. And being able to buy it does not negate being able to love it. Being able to purchase art is a function of your purchasing power. But loving art and being affected by other means inspired by art is free and accessible to all notions. And I hope that more and more people discover this secret which has been somehow kept.
For the audience, are the pieces for sale? If so, how can interested buyers connect?
No, the pieces are not for sale. The pieces belong to a very passionate and loving owner. They are to be shared for enjoyment, education, context, and conversations. But they can’t be bought. They are not for sale.
The correlation collection is inspired really by the personality and politics, and philosophy of the collector, who was so kind to lend us excerpts of his long-nurtured and comprehensive collection, which spans artists and collections from all over the world and spans eras of art history from antiquities to modernism and to now contemporary time. I believe it is inspired by his interest, philosophies, position, and experiences, which is what most collections represent. This is a passion-based collection and which is what most collections mean.
Coronation is a leading African financial services partner that helps build enduring legacies which result in sustainable wealth creation in Africa – going beyond the ordinary to deliver the best products and services to clients and markets.
Having established a 30-year record of achievements in banking across Africa and globally, Coronation’s founders established a Pan-African platform focused on building a better financial future for Africa.
Coronation’s philosophy is that of shared prosperity, of collectively finding solutions to Africa’s problems, with a strong foundation of best-in-class talent that have the confidence and drive to apply innovative thinking and resourcefulness in meeting the needs and aspirations of all clients.
The deeply embedded values of trust, innovation, and leadership – added to experience, strategic partnerships, strong corporate governance, a robust capital base and world-class risk management practices – set us apart.
To find out more about Coronation, visit www.coronation.ng