• Monday, April 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

How +234 Art Fair changed visual art landscape

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While the Nigerian creative industry has impacted the country’s image and economy hugely, many believe that the sector can do more, considering its enormous potential.

One of such strong believers in the sector is Tola Akerele, the founder of Soto Gallery, and an ace design guru.

Read also: Harvest of emerging artists as +234Art fair takes off

Through her many projects in interior design, visual art, and other creative platforms, she has boosted the creative sector with a variety of offerings, skill honing, and support for the practitioners.

Not relenting yet, she has innovated an offering that has revolutionized the visual art sector.

On March 22, 2024, the visual art sector witnessed the birth of the largest art fair in the country. Tagged ‘+234 Art Fair’, the 10-day art extravaganza, courtesy of the creative ingenuity of Tola Akerele, is unique in many ways and has lived up to expectations, according to Ecobank, the lead partner, Soto Gallery, the organiser, the artists, and the general public.

First, the focus of the exhibition is one of the unique selling points and the difference the fair has made. Instead of drawing unnecessary attention to the established artists, ‘+234 Art Fair’ focused on emerging artists, who have untapped potential for the creative industry.

According to Akerele, there is a gap in the market where emerging artists can showcase their works, hence the fair dedicated to them.

‘’The idea is to move the artists from where they are now to where they can contribute to the art ecosystem,’’ she explained.

Speaking further, she said that the focus on emerging artists is because they do not have platforms to showcase their works. ‘’Usually, galleries will take on established and mid-career artists, while very few will focus on emerging artists.

‘’The established artists have galleries and platforms to showcase their works, but emerging artists who are just coming out of school and also those who have been out there for some time now but lack platforms for awareness and growth, need to be taken care of and that is what we are doing with +234 Art Fair,’’ she said.

The fair had a country-wide representation of the 200 artists that showcased their works, a special development, according to Akerele.

From the paintings, sculpture, photography, entertainment offerings, the master classes, among others, the fair, according to her, is unique in all respects.

‘’It is very much an artist-led fair, there were master classes for information sharing, wonderful conversations for both the panelists and the participants, you can also have launch because there is a lounge’’.

She was also excited about the turnout. ‘’The response has been overwhelming, from the master classes, children classes to the VIP events, restaurants, coffee shop, pastry store, and people come back almost every day’’.

She also hoped that the artists gained from the fair and that the gallerists present would pick some of the artists as well. ‘’The idea is to showcase the artists to help them become better.

‘’There is so much talk about grant and residency programmes, the artists should take advantage of the master classes and look to work with galleries for their long-time career progression,’’ she said.

But one of her goals is to ensure affordable art or rather art for every pocket. She was able to realize that goal at the fair as the visitors, collectors, and even corporations had the opportunity to interact with the artists, and their works and also make purchases.

She commended Ecobank for leading others in the successful partnership for the fair and looks forward to continued support, especially from the bank for the next edition of the fair.