ArtxLagos an International Art Fair was able to unite Africa in one building as it was the first of its kind in West Africa. The event took place in Civic Centre located at Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island Lagos on the 4th to 6th of November, 2016. Art xLagos featured the works of 65 African artists from various African countries with 14 exhibitors. The three-day event saw artists, patrons, collectors and lovers of art from all works of life. It also saw over “30 local and International speakers delivering talks and conversations on the unwavering growth of African art in the global art scene and how African creative economy can lead to the rise of reshaping the African narrative” http://www.artxlagos.com
I was privilege to attend only one day of the event which was encompassed with beauty and depth of African culture. Some of the artworks made me value the little things Africa has to offer more, to see African culture from the vantage point of an artistic and creative side. Lately, my love for culture (s) has increased so much that I just want to have every taste of it, also to experience and have a feel of some elements that form these cultures.
To understand fully what the artworks mean and how they form, influence and aid African culture, I had to interact personally with the three creators (Obi Okiagbo, Bright Ackwerrh and Stacey Okparavero) of some of the works showcased at the event which caused a bit of delay as most of them were still very busy but I am glad that they responded to the questions regarding the relationship between art and African culture.
From the very talented artists, Art means existing and representing truth, it is life and it covers all walks of life. According to Obi Okigbo, her artworks tell old stories, that is, a re-told story through changing civilizations. Her works tend to evoke a more personal response. She personally believes that ArtxLagos was a platform for promoting African culture as well as boosting the economy of Lagos State if only the baton of hope is passed on to the next generation by holding on to the integrity that lies in African culture and minds of the people because when civilization is long gone, Art remains a testimony of our evolution as a continent, also in the throws of deep recession, Artx has successfully proven that African culture is a viable investment and the way forward to construct the future.
Ghanian artist, Bright Ackwerrh’s (@Brightackwerrh) works displayed at the event pushes a very crucial agenda. He sees art as a tool for building a nation, art in sublime or violent ways does the job of rewiring people’s conscience. Some of his works like ‘Being bad’ and ‘Kitchen attack’ measure the effects of negative assimilation and unneeded culture borrowing or the general views of the African woman. He however had nothing but good comments to say about the event Artxlagos as it was the highlight of his life and career.
Last but not the least is a young Nigerian female artist, Stacey Okparavero (@staceyokparavero) whom I happened to see start a piece of artwork from scratch says her artworks explores humanity, and reflects her reality. It also explores experimental artistic forms, texture and colors and how they interact with each other, which I love to compare with the different societies that make up the African culture. Her works reflect African culture but beyond this, it exists within the context of a global narrative, given the influences beyond Africa, it is reformative. It confronts the viewers to think, and challenge the beliefs and norms that for the popular culture. ArtxLagos was able to provide the platform for talented artists retelling the rich history and culture to showcase their artworks. As regards the economy of Lagos State, artxlagos was able to bring and will still bring key players in the global art market together, as it evolves and grows. It is going to be a huge economic driver.
There were so many other artists that I did not get to meet or could not even get their contacts but their works were really amazing such as Barthelemy Toguo, Victor Ehikhamenor. Just being at the event made me realize that Africa is not a country but a home that is packed with raw talents, rich history and fundamental stories. I love Africa and despite all odds, I keep falling in love with it over and over again. There is so much art in Africa and its culture #iamtheartofafrica.
Photo Credit : Artxlagos .
Bibiana Ossai © 2016.