• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Art helps us maintain value of our investments- Tim and Carol Gallery’s CEO

Art helps us maintain value of our investments- Tim and CarolGallery’s CEO

Olawale Fasuyi is the Chief Executive Officer of Tim and Carol Gallery located at Ikeja, GRA. In this interview with Anthony Udugba, spoke about the Nigerian art market and why people should invest in it.

Can you tell us what you do at the Tim and Carol Gallery?

Tim and Carol Gallery of Art, is a contemporary art gallery located in the heart of Ikeja GRA, and it is one of its kind on the mainland of Lagos.

Emphasis on the mainland because most other galleries are concentrated on the island, but we dared to be different. We started the business a couple of years ago and moved into this premise about two years ago, and it has been an interesting experience for us.

We’ve hosted the creme de la creme of Nigerian Art collectors and artists like Bruce Onobrapkeya, Rom Isichei Kolade Oshinowo, Kunle Adeyemi, and Bolaji Ogunwo among others. We have also held several high-profile exhibitions.

What inspired the creation of the Tim and Carol Gallery of Art?

I worked in the financial services industry for about 28 years and when I left, one of the business options that came on my radar was the Art gallery business amongst others.

During my stint at the various banks where I worked, I did a lot of travelling and so was able to collect art pieces from all over especially around Africa and had acquired quite a lot of works from Gambia, Ghana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Congo, and South Africa amongst others.

As a startup I had enough work to launch the business and this propelled us to establish the Tim and Carol Gallery to showcase Art. We just turned our passion into business.

Additionally, I come from a family of artists, my father being the first graduate of painting from a Nigerian institution, having graduated from the Nigerian College of Art Science and Technology (Now Ahmadu Bello University) in 1959.

He is the pathfinder of others who have studied painting in any Nigerian higher institution. This had a major influence on my appreciation of Art and the business of Art.

You have works of different artists; what is your relationship with these artists and how many are you currently working with?

We are very close with all our artists and as I said, my father was one of the founders of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) with legends like Yusuf Grillo, Jake Oyewole, Bruce Onobrakpeya, and Demas Nwoko among others.

He was active in the activities of the society until he passed on earlier this year, so by deduction, most of the very senior Nigerian artists are friends of the family. We are therefore quite close to the art fraternity. We don’t take this advantage for granted so we socialise, encourage and most importantly, patronise them.

We have reasonable access to many Nigerian artists. We currently work with over 100 Nigerian artists.

Do you have criteria to determine the artists you work with?

Not really, I mean, if you want to run a gallery, you must tolerate works from different categories of Artists. But from a commercial level, you want to pick sellable works that patrons would readily acquire. Our major responsibility as a gallery is to encourage the upcoming generation of artists too.

We have the younger artists who are just finishing school or some of them who are two, or three years post-NYSC because that is the struggling stage of their career and they need encouragement and support.

We look at the quality of their work and we try to spot talents. We jury their works and when we find value in them, we bring them on board. Most of the works at our gallery have gone through that process of details before our acquisition.

What is your opinion about arts being an investment portfolio?

There are a couple of investment options open to any investor. You can do real estate, precious metals, money market investment, government securities, and a whole lot more. But the one that has not caught up like others in Nigeria is the investment in Arts.

If you check the recent auctions abroad, you will find works of Art, maybe less than 100 years old, some less than 50 years old, some less than 25 years old, and sold for several millions of Dollars. Recently, Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting “Femme à la montre” sold for more than $139 million.

We are going to get to that stage in Nigeria where the works of Nigerian artists too will command a premium. In terms of value, Artworks hold a lot of value especially the works of revered artists. One thing about Art is that it hardly depreciates like most other investment types.

Today, if there’s a major world crisis, the price of gold will start to tank. Today, if you live on Banana Island and suddenly the place begins to have flood issues, it will affect the value of the property. If you buy a new Rolls-Royce, once you leave the car shop and put it on the road, it diminishes the value by about 25 percent.

But works of Art continue to appreciate and it keeps growing in value. So, if you want to maintain the value of your investments, I think Art is one of those investment channels that you seriously look at. Before, the problem investors used to have with art was that people did not know how to go and exchange it for cash, or how quickly they could exchange it for cash. But Art is fast becoming a liquid asset too.

Can Art pieces be a source of value and wealth?

Some banks like, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS have a substantial investment in Arts. Art is increasingly recognized as an asset class, with many wealth managers viewing it as a viable component of a well-diversified portfolio.

Apart from Banks, most successful families like the Rothschild family, Rockefeller Foundation, Royal families in the Gulf and even in England, store a lot of value in art.

Do you think this is something we can start embracing locally as Nigerians?

Yes. A lot of investment in Art is happening from investors with awareness, especially in cosmopolitan areas like Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Kano, we even have a strong Nigerian personality, from the northeastern part of the country, who is also a strong patron of Arts.

For any investor, there must be passion. A relatively good knowledge of the history of the work, the artist, the medium and most importantly the worth and potential.

With what is happening in the economy with the whole ‘Japa’ wave thing. How has this affected the arts sector?

As a matter of fact, at the peak of the Japa syndrome, some investors in arts and even artists were selling off their works, as part of their property to get funds to travel. Some of them could not wait to get the real value of their work so it was mostly done on a fire sales basis.

The flip side is that for talented Nigerian artists who have migrated, no matter where they are in the world, if they associate with their Nigerian roots and expand beyond, they would continue to find a market for their creativity. There are so many Nigerian artists making waves in the UK and America. A couple of them are doing very well. So, no matter where they are established, if they are talented and they have value, they will make waves.

How is the rising inflation impacting the prices of some of these artworks?

Inflation has impacted all segments and sectors of the economy. We are not immune to it. People are still buying artworks, but they are not buying at the frequency they used to buy as they have other things, contending for their funds.

As for exhibitions, we will continue to do exhibitions. That’s the only way we can showcase ourselves and the artist. It’s going to be expensive but we need to keep at it, and maybe reduce the number of outings we have in a year.

We have an exhibition coming up in July, for instance. We have an eight-man exhibition. We will do that and probably do another one or two others before the end of the year. We will continue to commit to doing exhibitions and will not let inflation deter our ability to showcase the artist’s talents.

What are your challenges as a Gallerist?

Nobody is immune to challenges. It’s the same challenges that people in print media, electronic media, banking, oil and gas, insurance, and civil service are going through. The spirit is not to give up but to continue to hope that as we progress with the administration, things will get better. We can only hope.

If you look at the signals now, there’s a lot of frustration in the polity. As artists and Art promoters, we have to be steadfast and we have to believe.

What are your next plans for the gallery?

That will be expansion. When we got here, this place was ideal for us. But with the level of work that we have now acquired, it’s not easy to display all the work we have, so what we do is rotate as frequently as possible. We move works around so that every artist at least gets a chance to be showcased.

But we want to be able to move to a big premises that is large enough to display almost all, if not all of our work.