What to look forward to at Art X Lagos 2023

The annual art fair ArtX Lagos opened yesterday at the The Federal Palace, Victoria Island, Lagos. Themed “The Dialogue”, this year’s event is billed to stimulate a lot more than conversations. It will be a veritable feast of the best of contemporary African art, entertainment, and plenty of moments to be starstruck.

Since it’s launch in 2016, the event which is the largest in West Africa has brought together art lovers and industry players, drinking in the flavourful punch of exhibitions of a broad spectrum of art, seminars and talks, and entertaining performances.

If you will be visiting the festival or wondering if you should, here are some things to look forward to.

“Writing with”

The centrepiece of this year’s event is an exhibition of select work of Nigerian legend Bruce Onabrakpeya, designated a Human Living treasure by UNESCO in 2006.

This exhibition, curated by Missla Libsekal, will draw connections between the worlds of art and literature by exploring the Onabrakpeya’s relationship with important African literary figures including Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi and Amos Tutuola.

Incredible exhibitions

Art X Lagos 2023 will feature a mind-blowing roster of galleries and artists presenting the very best of contemporary African art. You’re looking at Uganda’s AfriArt Gallery, Nigeria’s O’da Gallery, KÓ, Nike Art Gallery (of course), SMO contemporary, and others. Tiwani Contemporary will bring art from the British isles. Gallery 1957 will represent Ghanian interests. And there’s more.

ART X Cinema

The organizers introduce a new programme this year, a film segment of events called ART X Cinema. At it’s premiere, it will present “a screening program of artists’ films and documentaries that consider how artists continue to disrupt, imagine and reinvent writing, and make visible what is emerging or re-emerging through accounts that help us find our bearings.”

Taking inspiration from legendary Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène, the screening will feature Sammy Baloji, Meriem Bennani, Jihan El-Tahri, Binelde Hyrcan, Onyeka Igwe, Goddy Leye, Ibrahim Mahama, Betelhem Makonnen, Zen Marie, Fatimah Tuggar, Ezra Wube and more.

Meet art royalty

Your favourite African art legends will probably be there. Most prominently, the aforementioned Bruce Onabrakpeya, whose name has been cited in books and primary school classrooms for decades, will be holding a talk and also strutting the floors, so this could be your chance for a really cool pic.

Talks

Art X Lagos always features insightful, engaging talks by the industries very best. The following talks have been scheduled for Sunday 5th November.

Leading Contemporaries: In Conversation with Ibrahim Mahama” from 2:30 PM to 3:45 PM, featuring Ibrahim Mahama and moderated by Missla Libsekal.

2. “Writing for the Times with Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya” from 4:15 PM to 5:30 PM, featuring Bruce Onobrakpeya and moderated by Ifeoma Fafunwa

3. “Panel Discussion: Reimagining Patronage as a Form of Practice” from 6:00 PM to 7:15 PM, with Femi Lijadu and moderated by Ugoma Ebilah.

ArtX Prize 2023

Each year, a crowd of talented young artists joust for the ArtX Prize. This year’s top 10 finalists are

The African/Diasporan finalists: Lawrence Mwangi, Edward Prah, Dior Thiam, Asmaa Jama, Anne Mutema

The Nigerian finalists: Wale Matuluko Roanna Tella Julius Agbage Chinwe Chigbu Chidimma Nwafor

These finalists are in the running to win residency opportunities at Gasworks and Yinka Shonibare’s GAS Foundation $10,000 grants each towards exhibitions at ART X Lagos 2024; and mentoring to support their emergence on the global stage.

Finding your way

The event will be held at the Federal Palace, Lagos. You may be wondering how to find your way around the place, so here’s a helpful guide.

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Angry at the modern world for my own lack of taste.

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