By Tajudeen Sowole
Lagos as an emerging art hub in Africa is being confirmed as 11 artists from four Francophone countries are currently in the city showing their works, which include paintings and and sculptures.
Described by the promoters as "unprecedented," on the Lagos art landscape, the exhibition, simply titled Francophonie and currently showing at Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, features artists from Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ivory Coast. One of the aspects of the exhibiting artists that may interest Nigerian art followers is the identity of the visitors: attached to their real names are what one may describe as signature names. Among the Francophonie artists are Dominique Zinkpe, Francis NicaiseTchiakpe (Tchif), Charly D’Almeida, Yves Miduahen (Midi), Basille Moussougan (Bamousse), and Eunock Hounkpevi (Nock). Others include Djedje Mel Meledje (Djedjemel), Samuel Tete Katchan, Ayeva Medjeva, Yaffa Kanfitine and Kwami Da Costa.
In the last one to two years, the expanding art scene of Victoria Island has been hosting quite a number of artists from West Africa, particularly at Art 21, a new and vibrant space inside Eko Hotel and Suites. But George Edozie, co-curator at Alexis Galleries insisted that "this is unprecedented, being the first time such a number of artists from Francophone countries are showing in Lagos."
Beyond being boastful about showing such a long list of artists, the risk of collectors' apathy cannot be ruled out, particularly given the conservative texture of the art appreciation circle of Lagos. Apart from Zinkpe and Miduahen as well as one or two other artists whose works are known on the Lagos art scene, quite a lot of the exhibiting artists may have to depend on the contents of their presentations to lure connoisseurs. For example, Tete-Katchan, whose cubic style implores simplistic basic art forms has quite a lot to share in works such as Bus Station, Market Women and Yellow Bus. Also, in semi abstraction, Tchiakpe's brush strokes swipe across environmental and ecology themes such as Rainbow, Roots, Yellow Blues and Yellow Symbols.
Patty Chidiac, curator at Alexis was excited that with the supports from brands such as Litho-Chrome Limited, Veuve Clicquot, Ponsardin, Cobranet Internet Service Provider, Nigeria Info, Cool FM, Wazobia FM, Cool TV
Wazobia TV, Chocolat Royal, Arra Wines, The, Avenue Suites, Art Cafe, The Homestores limited and Correct Corporate Catering Ltd, the hosting of Francophonie will further expand the art market. She also disclosed that the exhibition, specifically, “is in honour” of a quiet individual supporter of African artist, HRM, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, The Obi of Onitcha (Agbogidi). "These artists and their 55 works make the right honour for the Obi of Onitcha, Achebe for his support and patronage on the West Africam art scene."
The artists, according to a statement from Alexis Galleries are "well known" across West African countries. "Most of the artists in this group are well established, with over 20 years of practices to their credit. They have exhibited extensively in West African Countries and abroad." The gallery stressed that Francophonie presents "the largest collection of artists' works of Francophone origin ever exhibited in Nigeria."
The journey towards the exhibition, it was disclosed started two years now, and it is finally here."
Recall that two years ago, one of the exhibiting artists, Zinkpe, showed a solo titled Mystery at Alexis Galleries. The exhibition stressed a common factors among traditional African beliefs, particularly, in the spiritual context.