Borne out of the desire to upend assumptions about what an art fair should be like – and, indeed, who it is for – ART X Lagos is an art fair with the complex and audacious ambition of “reversing the brain drain,” according to founder, Tokini Peterside.
“It might sound lofty,” she says, “but so many artists have felt they needed to leave the continent. With ART X Lagos, we are showing that the art scene can thrive right here.” Peterside credits her young and passionate team with creating a culture of accessibility for the fair, which filters through from the participating artists to the attending audience. She elaborates, “I think the fact that [we are young] enables us to build the kind of platform that can be simultaneously dynamic and inclusive…
a fair that cuts across all ages and backgrounds and opens Nigeria and the continent up to better engage with the international art scene.”
Intriguingly, Peterside’s own journey started as a creator: “When I was young, we used to have art lessons with friends; painting and working with clay and things like that. I used to make my little sister sit for portraits and my mother would frame them and pretend they were some work of genius,” she adds, laughing at the memory. “However, I grew up with a mother who was and still is an incredible art lover, which meant it was very easy and natural for me to begin to collect art.” Indeed, one can see how her empathy as a creator, collector, and communicator of ART X Lagos’ greater message coalesce. “I bought my first original work of art twelve years ago,” says Peterside, “and once I actively started collecting, I became friends with quite a number of artists. It was from this point that I noticed I could become an actor in the space and bring about change.”
We want to re-introduce an appreciation for art”
Over a decade later, and now the founder of West Africa’s first international art fair, Peterside is keen to posit the fair as part of a larger narrative of shaping culture. “It’s not just about people buying but really looking into appreciation,” she explains. “ART X Lagos is in a very unique position as an art fair because of our diverse programming, from a show and a concert that allows young people to feel that they can take ownership of the space to interactive projects that invite children to play with art – something that would potentially be taboo in other markets.” “We want to re-introduce an appreciation for art,” explains Peterside, “with the emphasis here on ‘reintroducing’, as there is a lot of talk about Nigerians not being artappreciating people, but you only have to research to see that art is in our DNA. It was in everything that we did, it even had a role in farming.” It’s through this celebration of both the historical significance of art and its current relevance that ART X Lagos is democratising participation, as well as future ownership of the African Art story.
An article by Mazzi Odu
Featured Image : Tokini Peterside | Photo credit: Lakin Ogunbanwo
This article was written for The Art Momentum | ART X Lagos 2019 Artpaper. [French version inside]
Articles are published in their original language | Les articles sont publiés dans leur langue d’origine