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Five galleries to visit while at ART X Lagos

The sixth edition of ART X Lagos kicked off with a physical fair at Federal Palace Hotel on Thursday, 4th November 2021. The fair brings together artists from all over Africa and its diaspora to showcase their works. The physical fair started with a Collector’s Preview, which I had the pleasure of attending. I’ve compiled a list of must-see galleries while you’re at the fair:
Nike Art Gallery
If you’ve ever had the chance to visit Nike Art Gallery, you can attest to the pure joy that exudes from being in that space. This joy is expressed through Chidi Kwubiri’s ‘It’s Harmattan’ and Rom Isichei’s ‘Attitudes of bliss’. If you’re lucky, you get to see Aunty Nike herself, who is walking, living and breathing art, and whose warm energy is worth the entry fee alone.

Chidi Kwubiri, ‘It’s Harmattan’ 2019

Rom Isichei, ‘Attitudes of bliss’ 2021

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Aunty Nike of Nike Art Gallery
Photo credit: Adebayo Quadry-Adekanbi
Septieme Gallery
Head to Septieme Gallery and try to chat with Helena Foster, whose pieces are inspired by scenes from old Nollywood movies; think Owo Blow and Blood Sister. This inspiration gifts each piece with a story and a lesson. With these, Helena Foster communicates experiences that are real and speak to our everyday experiences. If anything, visit this gallery for the nostalgia.

Helena Foster, ‘Abeg, Sir’ 2021

Helena Foster, ‘Divided’ 2021

Helena Foster, ‘Bittersweet’ 2021
Etinosa Yvonne’s ‘It’s All In My Head’
Etinosa Yvonne is the 2019 Winner of the Access Bank ART X Prize. It’s All In My Head is a research-based multimedia project that explores the coping mechanisms of survivors of terrorism and extreme instances of conflict and cruelty in Nigeria. Etinosa Yvonne draws our attention to the dangers of mass hysteria on naming people witches in Nigeria. This powerful piece is uncomfortable and forces us to confront our reality and complicity in upholding violent religious systems and beliefs that lead to these cruel acts.

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It’s All In My Head can be triggering for some viewers, so discretion is advised. This one is a bit hard to spot. It is opposite the ART X Interactive booth. Due to the auditory experience and visual projection, it is located in a dark room behind a curtain. Don’t miss it if you can handle it.

Etinosa Yvonne, ‘It’s All In My Head’
Kelani Abass’ ‘Unfolding Layers of Time’
Through an underlying critique of consumerism and the fickle nature of material possessions, Kelani Abass takes us on a journey of archival sensoria. The personal touch of these archival pieces speaks to women’s roles in writing our histories in the public and private sphere. Kelani Abass undoes the myth of women’s absence through time by spotlighting the presence of women in critical moments in our history. Kelani Abass believes it is time for women to be recognised in more prominent positions in all spheres.
If you can, be sure to speak to Kelani Abass, whose perspectives on women’s presence and roles in history was insightful. Don’t forget to pick up a card with mini versions of your favourite piece as a souvenir when you’re done.

Kelani Abass, ‘Casing History, Unfolding Layers 8’ 2021

Kelani Abass, ‘Fading Vanity 8’ 2021
Galerie Mam
Patrick Joël Tatcheda Yonkeu’s ‘Breathing New (diptych)’ and Bili Bidjocka’s ‘N.O.I.R #1’ are among the most arresting pieces at ART X Lagos.
With Breathing New, Patrick Joël Tatcheda Yonkeu provides a jaw-dropping piece. Pictures do not do this piece justice. Seeing it in person in the wrong light doesn’t do it justice either. You need to get it right to see the details and not be afraid to get closer. From the glowing streams of the tree branches to the abstract representation of the lungs in a colourful aesthetic, we simultaneously experience beauty and discomfort. Conceptualised during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a timely piece to confront our realities.

Patrick Joël Tatcheda Yonkeu, ‘Breathing New (diptych) 2021
In N.O.I.R, Bili Bidjocka provides a representation of what Black is to him. There is a representation of Black as all the colours, and none of the colours; exile; injustice; fertility. It is an encapsulation of all things Black from Bili Bidjocka’s perspective. This piece is perhaps enjoyed more if you have some grasp of French in your arsenal as most of the words are in French. However, not speaking enough French past the basic greetings and a few numbers took nothing away from my experience of what the piece had to say.

Bili Bidjocka, ‘N.O.I.R #1’ 2013
Afriart Gallery
Mona Taha had what was perhaps one of my favourite pieces from ART X – Good Girl. As a friend describes it, it was like watching a tender moment. What made this experience even more impressive was speaking to Mona Taha. Her insight on feminism, womanhood and activism gave the pieces the necessary context for us to feel and understand the emotions and motivations behind these series of self-portraits.

Mona Taha with her self-portraits
Left: Good Girl, 2021
Right: Comfort Zone, 2021
Photo credit: Adebayo Quadry-Adekanbi
ART X Lagos is open to the public for the physical fair on Saturday, 6th and Sunday, 7th November. The fair continues online until Sunday, 21st November. You can purchase tickets here. Don’t also forget to check out the online ART X Talks and ART X Live!

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