Over the years, Nigeria has developed as the continental hub for creativity and talent. This is not surprising, as the country has a long fine art tradition, with seminal 1950s art schools challenging and subverting European modernist styles and conventions by adopting visual cues rooted in Igbo and Yoruba traditions.
In recent years, Nigeria’s contemporary art scene has gained global recognition, leading to a renewed interest in cultivating and supporting modern and contemporary art in the country. Africa's most populous city known for its diverse culture, Lagos is now staking a claim globally as a contemporary art destination. This status was re-enforced with the founding of the ART X Lagos fair in 2016, the first commercial fair of its kind in West Africa. Designed to showcase the best and most innovative contemporary and modern art from the African continent and its Diaspora, it welcomes over 40,000 visitors, which indicates Lagos’ position as a fast-emerging and exciting cultural hub.
A sprawling megacity, Lagos has a generation of artists, gallerists and collectors powering the scene. In 2021, the city will be richer for an artist residency space launched by the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare with a mission to provide opportunities for creative and cultural exchange for African and international artists. Titled Guest Artists Space (G.A.S) Foundation, the residency will also open in Lekki and a farm in Ijebu about two and a half hours from Lagos.
However, the city already has so much to offer in terms of the arts.
Featured image: Art Twenty One, courtesy of the gallery.
Tucked in the Victoria Island, Red Door Gallery mostly focuses on African contemporary art. Explaining they seek to promote "unpredictable art", they have established themselves as a space for the unconventional. They provide artists with a platform for creativity beyond social boundaries.
With one of the largest private art gallery spaces in Nigeria, Red Door Gallery is a place for art lovers, art collectors, consultants, and connoisseurs. Their roster includes Peju Alatise, Cyril Oma, Adewale Fatai, James Moore, Olu Spencer, Lemi Ghariokwu and Victor Ehikhamenor.
Featured image: Red Door Gallery, courtesy the gallery.
Located within the owner Oliver Enwonwu’s home in Lagos, Omenka Gallery exhibits and represents a fine selection of emerging and established artists working in diverse media, whose output resonates strongly with the African continent and her related diaspora.
Founded in 2003, Omenka Gallery also collaborates with other prestigious galleries and organizations across the world, to bring the work of many international artists to Nigeria for the first time. In addition to holding one of the biggest and best collections of art by the renowned artist Ben Enwonwu, they also represent artists such as Abass Kelani, Cedric Nunn, Dominique Zinkpè, Ima Mfon and Nnenna Okore.
Featured image: Omenka Gallery, courtesy of the gallery.
A contemporary art gallery with two locations in Lagos and Los Angeles, ReLe Gallery was founded to connect the African and international art worlds. Located at Onikan, Lagos Mainland, they are well known for their unconventional art salons and installations, triggering the interest of young Nigerians in the visual arts.
ReLe Gallery's roster includes a fine selection of emerging and established artists working across diverse media in Africa and the diaspora, including Ameh Egwuh, Marcellina Akpojotor, Chidinma Nnoli and David Otaru. Their mission is to promote a wider appreciation of art from Africa, making it accessible to both local and global audiences.
Featured image: ReLe Gallery, courtesy of the gallery.
A five floor ultra-modern art gallery/centre at Lekki, Lagos, Nike Art Gallery represents over 500 artist and has over 20000 artworks in display, created by predominantly Nigerian born artists. Established in 2009 by artist and designer Nike Davies Okundaye, the gallery's mission is to provide and sustain an environment for the growth of art in Africa. The gallery is famous for its Adire, Batik, and indigo artworks on fabric, which are also Okundaye’s art mediums.
Nike Art Gallery also has three other branches in Abuja, Oshogbo and Ogidi. For those who want to learn more about Nigerian art culture, the gallery also hosts classes of traditional practices such as indigo dying, sculpting, painting, quilting, African drumming and dancing.
Featured image: Nike Art Gallery, courtesy of the gallery.
Located in Ikoyi, Lagos, Signature Beyond Art Gallery is a goldmine for exceptional paintings, art installations, and sculpture, promoting both young and established African artists. It was founded in 1992 to cater for the preservation and promotion of African art.
Over the years, Signature Beyond Art Gallery has expanded its offer to include furniture, accessories, architectural and interior designs.
Featured image: Signature Beyond Art Gallery, courtesy of the gallery.
Located at the Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island, Art Twenty One is a space and platform dedicated to contemporary art, aimed at solidifying the growing art scene in Lagos. Spanning 600 square meters, the space is designed to make art accessible to a large and growing audience.
Art Twenty One presents and promotes international contemporary art, as well as serves as a catalyst for contemporary art projects and for the interaction of local and international cultural players. It also provides support to local and regional contemporary artists, helping them grow and giving them the tools to position themselves in the local, regional, and international art sphere.
Featured image: Art Twenty One, courtesy of the gallery.
POLARTICS started in 2015 as a blog for African culture and politics, centered on engaging a younger audience. Over the years, the concept has evolved into an online art gallery, with occasional pop-up exhibitions. The pop-ups provide them the space to think outside the box and be creative.
POLARTICS represents exciting emerging artists from Africa and its diaspora, exploring wide ranging themes such as youth, identity, sexuality and socio-economic issues. Dedicated to amplifying young voices, they invite the public to critically engage with its artists. The gallery is known for being more experimental in its approach to curating and representing young and diverse voices.
Featured image: Polartics at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, courtesy of the gallery.
Conceived as an international art platform, SMO Contemporary Art showcases a unique portfolio of modern and contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora to a global audience.
Dedicated to artists of all generations who have been instrumental in shaping West Africa's contemporary art canon and establishing a unique narrative of the continent, they host exhibitions at diverse and unconventional gallery spaces, often affiliated to ecosystems of design, fashion and hospitality. In this way, SMO Contemporary Art seeks to engage with large and heterogenous audiences. Their rich and diverse roster includes Adeyinka Akingbade, Ibe Ananaba, Nii Obodai, Nnenna Okore, Kelani Abass, Billy Omabegho and Ranti Bam.
Featured image: SMO Contemporay Art, courtesy of the gallery.