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Nigerian art market records N400m from auction sales in 2018

Nigerian art market

The Nigerian art market is looking up as it made impressive sales of over N400 million from over 200 lots sold at auctions across the country in 2018. The figure surpassed previous records in the last 10 years, especially the N286.6 million and N232 million recorded in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Arthouse Contemporary Ltd controls over 70 percent of the sales with its two auction windows of June and November, where over N300 million was realised from the sales of artwork by indigenous artists last year.

Arthouse made the sum of N233.06 million from the twentieth edition of its auction of Modern and Contemporary Art held at the Kia Showroom, Victoria Island, Lagos on June 4, 2018.
The auction, which marked the 10th anniversary of Arthouse Contemporary’s auctions, featured 105 lots of leading master works from the modern period alongside cutting-edge contemporary art from the region’s most celebrated artists.

The star sale at the June auction sales was Ben Enwonwu’s ‘Anyanwu’, a bronze sculpture from circa 1975 that sold for N59,800,000. This was followed by ‘Negritude’, a watercolour on paper from 1990 also by Ben Enwonwu, which sold for N46,000,000.

The art auction house also made N107,113,500 from 100 lots at its November sales in Lagos where works across several genres by master and upcoming artists were on display.
As well, Terra Kuture made impact with its Lagos Art Auction on July 27, 2018, where N28,020,000 was realised from the sales of 69 lots.

Aside from the two major auctions houses, the Nigerian art market is soaring with the springing up of online galleries and art platforms that open the Nigerian art space and offer access to works by Nigerian artists to millions of people across the world.

Inspired by the opportunities in the global art market valued at over $50 billion and auction turnover of $8.45 billion, representing 18 percent increase in 2017, these online platforms are using technology to break market barriers, make art accessible and affordable, and woo many to their trendy offerings.

One of such platforms is the Art635, an online art gallery which is open to painters, sculptors, photographers and artists of all forms in Nigeria and across Africa.
So far, Art635 has featured over 5,000 unique artworks by different artists out of which about 2,000 have been acquired.

Art635, a CSR initiative of Guarantee Trust Bank, also woos buyers of artworks because of the security the bank offers in the transactions. The easy-to-use platform showcases several works, offers payment options and safe delivery as well.

However, Artyrama, a startup, has become the online African art gallery. It has given many people across the world access to a variety of African art, leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide a seamless, carefully curated online experience.
The startup provides advisory services for anyone looking to buy and sell art, drawing on strong industry experience in the African art market.

Sola Masha, Artyrama’s general manager, said the platform is gaining huge mileage today because it has introduced art to people who have never experienced or acquired art from Africa, as well as people who have an interest in the African art world but do not have a user-friendly platform from which to experience it.

Art X Lagos is also making an impact with its yearly art fair in Nigeria’s commercial hub where visitors are allowed to acquire artworks of their interests according to their financial reach.
But while the auctions sales are impressive, many art stakeholders insist that auctions, fairs, and galleries are a small slice of the Nigerian art market, with less than 10 percent share of the entire volume of artworks sold in the country.

“Yes, auctions have become a way to gauge the prices of Nigerian artworks, but they contribute a small part of the volume of works traded in the country in the year. Many people buy art anywhere even in traffic and such records are not captured,” Ade Olakunle, an art collector, said.
Emeka Ossy, an art teacher, said most galleries visit art schools to look for graduating artists who offer their works at giveaway prices, some go to roadside artists and a few visit art studios to do personal bargains that are never recorded anywhere.

“So, the total sales in a year may be over N1 billion. Yes, because nobody captures the ‘black market’,” Ossy said.

Many see a better year ahead for the arts in 2019 with more exciting works, emergence of new artists, consolidations by master artists, more platforms and many new art lovers and collectors.

To boost patronage of arts this year, Kavita Chellaram, founder, ArtHouse Contemporary Limited, said, “We need to do more to educate buyers on the value of African art, so that they won’t just collect artists they are familiar with. They need to realise that they have to go broad in their collection and begin to think world and not just Nigeria when collecting.”