• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Harvest of emerging artists as +234Art fair takes off


…Huge turnout excites organisers

The Nigerian creative sector, particularly visual art, has been on spotlight since March 22, 2024, when +234Art, a first-of-its-kind international art fair, debuted in Lagos.

The international art fair, which aims at offering platforms to emerging young Nigerian artists, is a strategic partnership between Ecobank Nigeria and Soto Gallery Lagos.

It is further dedicated to nurturing and uplifting the burgeoning art industry in Nigeria by providing a platform to support emerging artists and encourage increased interest in art acquisition, thereby contributing to the growth and prosperity of the local art sector and its international recognition.

Speaking at the opening on March 22,2024 at the Ecobank Pan-African Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, Toyin Laoshe, project director, +234Art Fair, was excited at the huge turnout of artists, art lovers, collectors and the public at the fair.

She promised more excitement, networking and enthralling experiences at the 10-day fair.

According to her, the fair is a must-visit because it

is being hosted in a new state-of-the-art 3800 sqaure meter event space for 10 days, with over 1000 artworks by over 700 emerging artists, making it the largest in the country.

Tomiwa Arimeke, a 24-year-old emerging artist, was also excited to be invited among many artists for the maiden edition of the fair.

He noted that the fair is a huge platform to market his art, as he networks with other emerging artists, look forward to collaborations and also meet collectors and gallerists.

For Temitope Adegoke, a self-taught emerging artist, the professionalism of the organisers, the diverse works and the platform for exchanges being created, are what excite her most at the fair.

The female artist is looking forward to enthrall visitors with her six recent works created along the fair theme of ‘Heritage’.

Meanwhile, Bolaji Lawal, managing director/regional executive, Ecobank Nigeria, is excited that the bank, which is the main partner of the fair, took the right steps in supporting the fair, considering the huge turnout and many young people whose lives are being positively impacted.

He further noted that the partnership is in line with the Pan-African bank’s policy of promoting the creative industry in the country and African continent.

“Our objective at Ecobank is to project Nigerian creatives by highlighting their talents and providing a platform as well as opportunities for them to showcase their works locally and globally.

“The creative industry is an essential driver of economic growth, well-being, and global connectivity. We will continue to invest in the potentials of our young people for a brighter future for Nigeria as a country,” Lawal said.

He was excited that ‘un-galleried’ emerging Nigerian artists responded to the invitation extended to them to submit applications for their participation in the international art exhibition, considering the the wide reaching exposure they are gaining at the fair for themselves and their works.

“Un-galleried artists” typically refer to artists who do not have representation or exhibition opportunities through traditional art galleries. These artists usually face challenges in gaining exposure and selling their creative work.

On her part, Tola Akerele, founder, Soto Gallery, stated that the maiden edition of the event takes the thematic direction of ‘A New Heritage’ and is designed to serve as a melting pot of artistic creativity from different strata of the society.

According to her, the free entry fair aims to be an immersive showcase of painting, photography and sculpture, providing the general public with a closer look at what emerging artists, and photographers in Nigeria today are up to. “The exhibition’s title – ‘+234Art’ is an amalgam of Nigeria’s country calling code, and the all-encompassing word – ‘Art’, indicating that this experience aims to be a thorough exposition of what Nigerian art looks like today, as well as how it interacts with the larger art community in Africa and beyond. Paintings and sculptures for display will be beautifully curated by local and international experts,” the galarist said.

Read also: Supporting creative sector, Ecobank form alliance with AFC, Soto Gallery for +234 Art Fair

Speaking further, she explained that the art fair will among other things seek to create a sustainable platform for young and emerging artists in the country, provides an opportunity to enhance skills and understanding of the industry through workshops that run concurrently with the art fair, adding that it would also showcase the talent of Nigerian art and encourage economic exchange by purchasing of art pieces while moving the artists into a better socio-economic class by giving them tools to earn locally, regionally and internationally.

Akerele further highlighted other benefits of the exhibition as an avenue for cultural resonance, the discovery of emerging art talent, wealth creation, learning experiences, networking opportunities and social Impact.

Credit goes to Ecobank Nigeria for supporting the fair. The bank, which is a key driver of tourism, culture and the creative industries in Nigeria, is behind the yearly Adire Lagos Experience, Photography, Art, and Design Exhibition (PADE), to commemorate World Photography Day in 2022, it also partnered “Songs & Stories” With Cobhams Asuquo; Redbull Dance Your Style; BellaNaija Style Summit and Loosing Daylight (an exhibition of the history of Nollywood organised by Nse Ipke-Etim).

The fair’s main sponsors include; African Finance Corporation, Leadway and a host of others.

The ongoing international art fair runs until March 31, 2024 with exciting activities including seminars, workshops, auctions, live art, music performances, among others.