Type to search

Art Auction Market Makes N286.6m In 2013


Art Auction Market Makes N286.6m In 2013


arts2The Nigerian art market is looking up as it made a total sale of N286.6m in 2013, a 21.8 percent increase in sale compared with the N232million sale in 2012.

This, market analysts, say it is not a surprise as interest in Nigerian contemporary art which began some years ago was sustained in 2013.

“We are not surprised at the outcome in 2013,” says Nana Sonoiki of ArtHouse Contemporary Ltd, one of the foremost art auction house in Lagos, there was high expectation so we were not surprised at the result at all.”

At May 2013 edition of the Arthouse Contemporary Ltd auction 82 percent of the lots were sold at N124, 982, 000, a 22.9 percent increase compared to the 2012 figure of N101, 683, 600. At the annual auction organised by Terra Kulture in April 2013, 60 lots were sold at N47, 400, 000 which is also a 24.3 percent increase in sale compared to the 2012 sale of N38, 125, 000.

The Nigerian auction market which is conducted three times in a year between April and December, usually witness two major houses putting lots out for sale. At the May 2013 Arthouse Contemporary Ltd auction, Ben Enwonwu’s Untitled work made of wood was sold at the highest hammer price of N13.2 million as against the estimated price of between N13 million and N15 million. In the second auction in November by Arthouse again, Ben Enwonwu’s 1957 work, Fulani Girl, was sold at hammer price of N17.05 million as against the estimated price of between N12million and N15 million. Also, at the auction organised by Terra Kulture and Mydrim Gallery in April 2013, Kolade Oshinowo’s ‘Royal Procession’ was the highest work sold at N3.9 million.

It is not a surprise that Enwonwu’s work took centre stage at local auction market in 2013 as his works were sold at higher prices at Bonhams’ sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art held in London in May2013.

Enwonwu’s work, a collection of seven wooden sculptures of figures holding newspapers which was commissioned by the UK Daily Mirror in 1961 was estimated to sell for £80,000 to £120,000 but tripled the high estimate to make £361,250. Another Enwonwu work, evocative oil on canvas of The Durbar of Eid el-Fitr, Kano, Nigeria, also broke the artist’s previous best by selling for £193,250. A bronze sculpture, Lot 118, also by Enwonwu, titled ‘Anyanwu’ and estimated to sell for £50,000-80,000, made £133,350. This is a small-scale version of the famous work mounted on the façade of the National Museum in Onikan, Lagos, the current lot is one of Enwonwu’s most significant sculptures. The title ‘Anyanwu’ meaning eye of the sun invokes the Igbo practice of saluting the rising sun as a way to honour ChiUkwu, the Great Spirit.

Enwonwu’s ‘Anyanwu’ is commonly regarded as among the artist’s most accomplished works, not only formally but also in terms of its positioning in Nigerian cultural history. The noble figure, with its lithe bronze torso arising as if from the earth, is considered the pre-eminent expression of the aspirations of the Nigerian nation and Enwonwu’s personal intercession for its survival and growth.

The 120 lot sale made a total of over £ 1.3 million. New world records were also set for over twenty other artists, including Erhabor Emokpae, Uche Okeke, Uzo Egonu and Tshibumba Kanda Matulu.

Giles Peppiatt, head of African Art at Bonhams says with the performance eof Enwonwu’s works at the auction, it showed that African Contemporary Art took another step forward with world record prices achieved. “The national spotlight being cast on African art by Bonhams, the Tate and others has focused increasing interest on African artists and I am delighted to see them getting the recognition they deserve. As the only auction house offering a stand-alone sale of Contemporary African Art for the past five years, today’s result pleases me very much,” he says in a statement.

Although the performance of the art market in 2013 was high yet Sonoiki said cash follow affected art sales last year. “There was high expectation so we were not surprised at the result. We didn’t sell a Ben Enwonwu Torso in May but this is not for us to judge. It is no doubt a good work but just wasn’t what the audience wants. The cash flow also has been affecting collecting lately, a lot more people are tending towards contemporary works in recent time. Our expectation was high on the sale of the El-Anatsui and it went above the reserve price.”

In 2014, says Kavita Chellaram, founder, ArtHouse Contemporary Limited, the arts market will still largely remain unpredictable even collectors diversify their interest in modern contemporary art.

“The market will continue to determine the value of the work in the New Year,” she explains. “We will also do more to educate buyers on the value of the African art so that they wont just collect artists they are familiar with. They need to realise that they have to go broad in their collection and begin to think world and not just Nigeria when collecting.”

In addition, Bolanle Austen-Peters, managing director, Terra Kulture says: “We believe the trend will definitely continue. The Nigerian art is exploding and gaining more awareness and relevance all over the world. The international market will surely embrace contemporary Nigerian art as well as the masters.”

By: Funke Osae-Brown

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *