Lagos has been all over our newsfeed, and for good reason. Over the past few years, the city has attracted increasing attention on a global scale for its thriving art scene. Here’s why we think it should be your next art destination, and possibly your favorite!
The city made a big splash in the art world with the launch of ART X Lagos in 2016. Described as “West Africa’s premier international art fair,” it is dedicated to exhibiting the art of Africa and the Diaspora. This fair experience not only showcases the vibrant, visual landscape of West African art, but has also been called “an immersive, multi-sensory experience.” In past editions, visitors have even witnessed artists at work, who in some instances painted and sculpted alongside musicians themselves composing new works. Widely popular both within the city (when asked what first time visitors can’t miss in Lagos, local artist Ayobola Kekere-ekun named the fair) and internationally, it’s worth keeping fair dates in mind when booking your flight!
Given the scope of its contemporary art community, there is no shortage of art spaces in Lagos. Likewise, there are many lists of must-visit galleries in the city to consult before your trip. There are, however, a few recurring names that demand attention:
Rele Gallery has been around since 2010, making a name for itself as one of the city’s hottest art spots. With a dynamic exhibition schedule and a dedication to stirring local interest in the arts, it’s been called “the sexiest place to see and be seen by young Nigerians.”
Art Twenty One is a few years younger, but just as exciting. The gallery’s goal is not only to promote local art, but to actively foster its interaction with the global art community. Its large, welcoming space also fulfills its promise to the city: “to make art accessible to a large and growing audience.”
Lagos is the biggest city in Africa by population. Naturally, there is a richness in the diversity of the city’s artistic practices. Artists are working in every medium, from hyperrealist paintings to sculptures inspired by the wares of street vendors. It’s too simple to attribute this range solely to the number of practicing artists in the city. As seen in the efforts by local institutions to nurture art engagement, it may just be that the atmosphere is one that not only allows, but encourages innovation and individuality. Kekere-ekun perhaps puts it best, saying “Lagos exemplifies one of my favourite things about art, which is, there’s room for everyone.”
The creativity and vigor within the city’s art community is inspiring, and it’s about time the world started to pay attention. We can’t wait to visit!
Featured Image: Detail of The Balance of Three (Younger), by Ayobola Kekere-Ekun