Bold, edgy works of art stared me in the face as I ascended the first floor at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos for the second edition of ART X Lagos. The white walls accentuated the pieces hanging on them. I joined other art lovers to move from one art piece to another savouring their sheer beauty and admiring the level of creativity of African artists.
Rahima Gambo’s piece are quite poignant. She chronicles the effect of poor education in the north. Her collection of photography aptly titled ‘Education Is Forbidden’ highlights the effect of unacceptability of western education in north eastern Nigeria.
The eleven pieces in the collection are a part of her larger body of works sourced from photographs, illustrations from text books, films and other sources. The photography gives insight into the complexity of personal testimony and their effect on storytelling. She uses filmic textures which suggest how weather has affected the images including chalk marks to evoke dusty blackboards creating the right ambience for a classroom setting.
Moving on, I encountered the works of Ghanaian artist, Yaw Onwusu. He uses hundreds of copper coins to highlight issues of imperialism, racism, economic and political blunders in Africa. The work, ‘One-Pesewa Coin’ is an installation made with his native Ghana currency, Pesewa, to show the nearly worthless loose change as structural material to consider the state of his country’s political and economic independence.
A metaphorical work made from hundreds of the small copper coin introduced in Ghana in 2007 as a cure to the country’s economic inflations, ‘One-Pesewa Coin’ depicts how the nation still wallows in penury and high inflation ten years after the Pesewa was introduced.
Another work I love, exhibited by Gallery 1957, is ‘Kelechi, Dynamics of Power’. A 2017 piece by Ghanaian artist, Jeremiah Quarshie, depicts ace Nigerian photographer, Kelechi Amadi-Obi sitting confidently on a power generating set with another one by his side. This work is a poignant reference to the epileptic power supply synonymous with the Nigeria state. Budding entrepreneurs like Amadi-Obi must rely on power generating sets of various sizes to power their businesses in a country where poor power supply has crippled many promising ventures.
After moving around the upper floors, I returned to the ground floor to fully soak in a rare collection of the ‘Seven Wooden Sculptures of master artist, Ben Enwonwu, commissioned by Daily Mirror in 1960. The figures carved out of African hardwood, was sculpted specially for the newspaper by the artist, to show how the news of the media organisation will fly all over the world.
Indeed, Art X, an initiative of Tokini Peterside, holds a lot of memories and great promise for lovers of African art. It is an art fair that has succeeded in bringing African art together under one roof in an age when Africa art is providing alternatives to other art forms.