Nigerians lead $13bn African art market, says Patrons

Keturah Ovio, a director of Patrons Modern & Contemporary African Art, an art advisory and dealership firm, says Nigerians are in the forefront of the African art market which is estimated at $13 billion.

Ovio said this while answering questions on her upcoming miniature art exhibition titled, “small Is beautiful,” billed to take place between October 21 and 23 at Cabaret Avignon, 32 Musa Yar’Adua, Victoria Island, Lagos.

She said Nigerian art is one of the most sought after in Africa and attracts investors from all over the world.

According to her, Nigerian artworks are sold for thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars across the world, which is a testament to the fact that art as a profession can be quite lucrative for those who pursue it.

Ovio further said the Nigerian art industry has matured so much that works done by artists in the country are exhibited in various parts of the world, including London, Paris, Rome, New York, Miami, Valencia and Berlin, which are often regarded as the artistic cities of the world.

“Nigerians are very creative. In October 2021, Jacon Osinachi Igwe was the first crypto-artist from Africa to sell his works at Christie’s auction house in Europe,” she said.

“Three years before, Bob-Nosa’s works had been sold in an exhibition widely described as successful in Europe. In October 2019, $1.4 million was released from Ben Enweonwu’s work during a Sotheby’s auction in London. These are just a few examples of how the Nigerian arts are stamping their feet on Africa and the rest of the world,” she noted.

She explained that artists are not given sufficient attention in Nigeria as some drop out of the way due to lack of patronage and support by the government and the consuming public.

“We need to consume our arts in Nigeria because it has a lot of benefits. Apart from being a big industry globally, it provides excitement, leisure and tells stories of history that can’t be engagingly told in written form,” she said.

“It is a big industry that can help to shore up our revenue. When Nigerians travel out of the country, they visit art galleries, attend exhibitions, and conduct museum visits. They spend the foreign exchange in order to see and watch what we already have locally. Supporting local artists will give them confidence to preserve what belongs to us,” she admonished.

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She said the upcoming miniature art salon will showcase artworks of a well-collected artist, Emmanuel Dudu, who has exhibited and has been featured in several prominent places. His works currently sit in the collections of the King of Morocco – King Mohammed VI Museum. While the private viewing will take place on October 20, the public viewing and exhibition will happen from October 21 to 23.

The event is organised by Patrons Modern & Contemporary African Art in partnership with Liquiditti Platforms and Solutions Limited, which provides access to finance for SMEs, LPO financing, car-backed loans, SME asset acquisition, and other bespoke loans.

She described the event as a miniature art exhibition series meant to spark memorable and inspiring conversations in the art industry through bite-sized art works.

“As humans, our obsession to create great things in small sizes is evidenced since the world’s earliest civilisation. There’s something intricate and mind-boggling about paintings, sculptures, and engravings that come in small sizes.

“Miniature art is a novelty. As an art form, it is extremely detailed as it forces the artist to communicate and engage with the audience in limited space and construct. ‘small is beautiful.’ is a series of miniature art exhibitions that are curated to stimulate one’s mind to lean in, inspire, and connect,” Ovio further said.

She promised that these series would ignite great appreciation of works done by Nigerian artists and would greatly distract attendees from the hurly-burly of Lagos life and the tensions around the society.