African art on show

Spotlight on Art X Lagos

Since its inception in 2016, I have diarised attending Art X Lagos as an annual “must do” ritual. In this time I’ve experienced it grow into a larger-than-life event, becoming increasingly pan-African and making its global mark.

I feel especially proud that artists from my home country, Uganda, and from other parts of East Africa have featured at Art X Lagos events – among them, Mona Taha and Saana Gateja – thanks to gallerist Daudi Karungi, Founder of Afriart Gallery in Kampala.

The Ugandans, all pioneer members of the Contemporary Art Society of Uganda, at a previous edition of ArtX Lagos: From left – Daudi Karungi, Samalie Kiyingi, myself and Tio Kauma.

The first edition of ART X Lagos in2016 showcased contemporary art by over 60 established and emerging artists from 10 countries in Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Mali, and was artistically directed by Bisi Silva.

Access Bank is a longstanding Gold Sponsor of Art X Lagos.

Artist Polly Alakija (with me at the first edition of Art X Lagos in 2016.

And this year, it was high time to gather again to appreciate beauty, expression and what it means to be African. Held 4-7 November, Art X Lagos 2021 was the continent’s first in-person art fair since 2020 – and Art X Lagos’s most ambitious.

A truly, proudly African affair

Daudi Karungi of Afriart Gallery (Uganda), had this to say:

“ART X Lagos is very important for the furthering of contemporary art from Africa. It’s on the continent, and it means a lot for the art of Africa to be appreciated and traded in Africa. And the fair has the majority of collectors from Africa. This is the only fair in the world that has ninety per cent black people at the opening. And if you don’t fully understand that statement I just made – you better think about it. Look anywhere in the world, tell me the place in the world with more black people gathering over a weekend and collecting art or dealing with art than right here.” 

From left: Ugandan artist Mona Taha with Daudi Karungi (centre) and Atedo Peterside (Chairman of Art X Lagos).

This year’s event brought together 30 leading galleries from around the world – showcasing 120 artists from over 30 countries including Angola, The United States, Morocco, Martinique, Egypt, and South Africa. 

Quoting the Art X Lagos official website, the event saw “strong sales, enthusiastic collector attendance” and “phenomenal installations”.

Of the 30 exhibitors, 15 joined ART X Lagos for the first time – marking a period of growth despite the challenges wrought by COVID-19. –

For a taste of this experience, visit the Art X Lagos site.


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